Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

October 15, 2020 in Personal Injury Articles | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

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Wrongful death refers to the death of someone at the hand of another person’s negligence. Medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, vehicular manslaughter, workplace accidents, and drowning accidents are some of the most common examples of wrongful death scenarios. The survivors of a wrongful death case are those left behind who have suffered damages because of the death. To determine if you are a survivor who can bring a lawsuit, you must first identify how you are affected by the death.


The damages included in the final claim must be things that the survivors have lost, and they must directly relate to the death of their loved one. In addition to proving that the other party was negligent in your loved one’s death, you have to also prove that their negligence led to the death and loss of damages. The following are common damages in a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Medical bills
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of future benefits and wages of the deceased
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of love, guidance and care from the deceased
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of companionship from the deceased

Not every survivor can claim each of these damages. Their relationship with the deceased generally determines what can be included.


Spouses can be awarded damages for several reasons. If the surviving spouse suffers from emotional trauma because of the death, they can claim that. They can also make claims based on financial dependability and the loss of companionship. States determine the definition of a “spouse” differently, so you may want to check your eligibility if you are a partner or putative spouse.


Parents can sue for wrongful death of a child, specifically minors. Certain states allow parents to receive compensation for a fetus depending on some conditions. In general, parents can only get compensated for children in their care and not adult children.


Minors can bring a lawsuit for recovery if they have suffered the loss of a parent. These claims often revolve around the loss of financial support, guidance, care, companionship, and emotional trauma. It usually does not apply to adult children who no longer rely on their parents for support.

A general rule of thumb is that if someone was financially dependent on the deceased, they can bring a lawsuit. If you aren’t sure whether you can make a wrongful death claim, get in touch with a wrongful death lawyer, like Patterson Bray, who can clarify where you stand.

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