An unfortunate reality of car accidents is that death. Not all accident victims survive their ordeal. Even pedestrians are in danger of losing their lives to dangerous, negligent motorists. The law affords accident victims the opportunity to sue those they deem liable for their injuries for compensation. Accident victims who die as a result of their injuries or another’s negligence have no legal voice. However, the law allows certain individuals to act on behalf of deceased victims and may pursue compensation in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Relationship to the deceased matters
Not all families are bound by blood. Some people have relationships with others that they refer to as family members affectionately. The law does not recognize any relationship in wrongful death claims except for designated beneficiaries. A designated beneficiary may be an immediate blood relative, such as a spouse, adopted or biological children and domestic partners. In some cases, distant family members or those who live outside of the deceased’s household may qualify to file a wrongful death suit.
The law determines the right to file
There is an order to follow. There are circumstances where multiple family members may feel they should file a wrongful death claim to help them recover financially from their relative’s demise. While the law ascertains eligibility, by right, having a relationship to the deceased does not automatically place them first in line to file.
Surviving spouses have the first right of claim in wrongful death cases. If there are also surviving children, the courts will split the proceeds between all parties fairly. If there are no children, the right to file falls to the deceased’s parents. In the absence of parents, children and spouses, the next of kin as determined by the deceased’s estate administrator may file a wrongful death suit.