Family Court

Can Anyone File a Wrongful Death Claim?

When someone is killed in an accident through the fault of another, their death often impacts a spouse or partner, children, and other loved ones. For this reason, the law allows those family members to pursue damages via a wrongful death claim. While the money awarded in such a case will be divided up among the deceased person’s beneficiaries, the entire family can’t be named as the plaintiff. Instead, the law allows a personal representative to pursue the case on behalf of the decedent.

This leaves many people questioning who can serve as a personal representative. If the decedent left a will, the court may simply allow the executor of the will to serve as the personal representative. Under other circumstances, a family member who has been financially impacted by the death can serve as the representative. Usually, this means the spouse, minor children, or the parent if the decedent was a minor child. Others may qualify, but it’s a good idea to consult a Boston wrongful death attorney to be sure of your rights in this regard.

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Once a personal representative has been selected, it becomes necessary to show that there is grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. This is done by showing that the defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent and that they breached that duty of care, either through negligence or a willful act. This means a workplace accident in which an employee was killed, or a criminal assault in which the victim was murdered can both result in wrongful death claims.

The plaintiff in a wrongful death suit must also be able to show that the decedent’s dependents have suffered financial hardships as a result of the death. Damages in this type of case may include the loss of household income, loss of guardianship for children, the cost of funeral and burial expenses, and the costs of medical care incurred prior to the death of the individual. There may be other damages to recover as well, depending on the specific circumstances of your case.

The first step is to consult an attorney. Like any personal injury case, the initial consultation is free of charge and the attorney will work for a contingency fee. This allows you to get the legal representation you need to pursue wrongful death damages. While monetary compensation won’t compare to the loss of your loved one, it will help your family recover from the financial loss.

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