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Who is Permitted to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim for a Loved One?

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Posted on December 12, 2018

You’ve suffered one of the biggest losses anybody could experience, the death of a loved one. In the midst of losing your loved one, you might wonder what options you have when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim. Luckily, all hope is not lost. However, not just anyone can come along and file one of these highly specialized claims. For instance, a neighbor who happened to be friends with your grandma wouldn’t be able to file a claim on her behalf if she loses her life due to another party’s negligence. Who is permitted to bring one of these claims?

Who Can Move Forward with a Claim?  

Before you move forward with a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one, you want to ask yourself one thing: Do you have a right to bring this claim? If somebody has negligently caused the death of your loved one due to an outright reckless action, you have a right to bring one of these claims if you meet all other requirements. Now we will take a closer look at the individuals who are permitted to bring these claims.

From state to state, the qualifications vary when it concerns who is permitted to bring a wrongful death claim. There are two system that you will typically see used, the Lord Campbell System and the Loss-to-Estate system, in terms of moving forward.

Who is Permitted to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim for a Loved One?Lord Campbell: Under this type of statute, which is widely used in many states, a wrongful death claim can only be brought by a designated beneficiary of the estate. This means that the relationship to the deceased individual is extremely important. Some of the beneficiaries that are most commonly named under this statute include immediate family members, distant family members, domestic or life partners, or financial dependents who are now suffering on a financial level.

If there are living members of that type of class, then the action will only be available for them to bring. If there are no living members, then a wrongful death claim cannot usually be sought.

Loss-to-Estate System: In other states, only the decedent’s estate is able to bring a wrongful death claim to seek damages. Usually, a personal representative will be designated for the job, mostly done before the individual loses their life if they chose to put it in writing. If they have not been designated, probate will elect somebody to handle these aspects for the family. The personal representative would then move forward with a claim under their own name and the money that is received would be placed into a trust. All beneficiaries would benefit from this trust depending on what was left for them.

With so many requirements put in place, you might be confused about the complex process that tends to follow wrongful death claims. Because of this, we want to ensure that your rights are being protected at Katz Kantor Stonestreet & Buckner, where we care about the outcome of your claim. Losing a loved one is a tough experience and one that can bring great stress, so don’t handle your case alone. Contact an experienced attorney you can trust at 304-431-4050.

Note: This post was created with the help of secondary sources operating independently from Katz, Kantor, Stonestreet & Buckner Law Firm. The information used from these sources has not been independently confirmed by our staff. If anything included in these posts is incorrect, please inform us and we will promptly correct the post.

Disclaimer: Our intent with these posts is to honor the victims of these terrible accidents and inform the public about how to avoid these accidents and what to do in the event of one. This information should not be considered legal or medical advice. 

Katz, Kantor, Stonestreet & Buckner, PLLC is located in Princeton and Charleston, WV and serves clients in and around such cities as well as southern West Virginia including but not limited to the counties of Mercer, McDowell, Raleigh, Summers, Monroe, Kanawha and Wyoming.

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