If it is suspected that a loved one has passed away due to another’s negligent act, a wrongful death claim may be filed. If the claim is filed, it may provide additional complexities depending on which state the claim was filed. Due to the complexities associated with the claim, it may be beneficial to hire a wrongful death attorney to provide knowledge and guidance through the process.
Can Anyone File for Wrongful Death?
Not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. The claim may only be filed by specific family members in the event that a loved one passed away due to negligence of another party. Each state may have their own specific laws, however, common family members eligible for filing a wrongful death claim include:
- Life Partners
However, under certain conditions an individual may be able to file a claim regardless of blood relation. If the individual was considered depended on the deceased’s finances, they may be eligible to file a claim. If multiple family members or dependents were to file wrongful death, the claims would most likely be consolidated into a single joint claim.
What Damages May Be Recovered?
It is not uncommon for damages to include a variety financial and emotional expenses. Such damages that may be recovered include:
- Future lost wages of the deceased
- Expenses for the funeral
- Emotional damages suffered by the victim
If the deceased did or did not have a will established, any money that is awarded as the result of the claim will be distributed as if there never was a will. Unfortunately, the remainder of the estate is rarely itemized which can impart additional stress on the family. However, formulating an estate plan can help reduce this stress by providing a distinct set of instructions for the allocation of your assets. The loss of a loved one is painful enough without the additional burden of distributing assets. When there is no will or trust established, your assets may be distributed according to the court’s ruling – which can not only be lengthy, but may also not correspond to your wishes. It is highly recommended to seek the counsel of an attorney, like an estate planning attorney O’Fallon MO can count on, for all questions you may have regarding estate. The attorney may be able to devise a plan that supports your wishes. Though, the loss of a loved one will always be painful for the family, you may be able to leave your family with peace of mind knowing that there is a plan in place for your estate.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Legacy Law Center for their insight into wrongful death and estate plans.