Did you lose a loved one due to the negligence of his or her medical team? Losing someone you love, whether a spouse, parent, or child, is always difficult emotionally. What many people don’t realize is that it can also be quite difficult financially, especially if the deceased was financially responsible for the home. If you suspect wrongful death due to negligence, you may have a case to gain compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There are laws regarding who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in most states. Oftentimes, to file one, you must be the surviving spouse, parent, or child of the deceased. Someone is considered a spouse if the two are legally married at the time of death, even if they were separated or in the middle of divorce proceedings. A surviving spouse can bring a wrongful death lawsuit even if he or she remarries.
A person is considered the parent of the deceased if he or she is the biological or lawful parent. Step-parents and legal guardians do not qualify. Adoptive parents must have had a finalized adoption before the death, and if there is any evidence of abandonment before death, the parent cannot file a lawsuit. A person is considered a child of the deceased if he or she is a biological or fully adopted decedent, but not if he or she is a stepchild or foster child.
There are rare exceptions, such as if someone was a longtime unmarried partner of the deceased. However, these are much harder to prove and typically only hold up in court if the couple owned property together.
What Damages Are Allowed in a Wrongful Death Case?
The amount of compensation you may gain from a wrongful death lawsuit depends on several factors, including the severity of the negligence. As a wrongful death lawyer at Hayhurst Law, PLLC explains, if you win your case, you can receive compensation for unpaid medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and mental anguish. You may also receive compensation if your family member was the financial support, if you lost prospective inheritance, or for the loss of your family member’s companionship and care.
How Do You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit due to medical malpractice, you must do so within the statute of limitations. Each state has its own regulations, but usually you’ll have between 1 and 6 years. You can start the process of filing your lawsuit by filling out and submitting documents to the civil court. The first document, a complaint, provides information to the defendant about the legal grounds for your suit. You must also file a summons, follow a service of process, and have your claim reviewed.