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Who Files the Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Published on March 11th, 2020

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

If your loved one died because another person or entity was negligent, a wrongful death lawsuit might be on the horizon. Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and when does it need to be completed? The following goes over some basic information about wrongful death lawsuits.

Filing the Lawsuit

Every state has different regulations that determine who can file the wrongful death lawsuit after someone wrongfully dies. There are different procedural rules that may apply to the case of your loved one. The following are a few to consider.

  • When the deceased was married at the time of death, the surviving spouse is typically the person who brings the lawsuit.
  • If the deceased had adult children, one of the children could bring the lawsuit.
  • When a minor dies, the parents have the right to a wrongful death lawsuit.
  • Only in some states, a domestic partner or member of a civil union can bring the lawsuit.
  • If there are no lineal relatives, others can file, such as siblings, cousins, aunts or uncles.

Most courts only allow for one wrongful death lawsuit to be filed per person who passed away. If there is a dispute between which family member can file the lawsuit, the court will make that determination.

When Someone Dies With a Will in Place

If your loved one had a will, there will generally be an executor of the estate appointed. In some states, the executor is the only person allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. He or she would then take the settlement and distribute it as the deceased person indicated in the will.

Getting It Done on Time

Every state has a statute of limitations. Whether you’re filing the lawsuit or someone else is doing it, be sure it gets taken care of on time. Most states hover somewhere around two to four years, but there are some exceptions. Be sure you speak with an attorney to truly understand how long you have to file your claim. There are some rare cases in which a judge may allow for an extension, but you would need solid proof that nobody knew about the negligence until a much later date.

Contacting a Wrongful Death Lawyer

It’s hard to handle everything that comes with the death of a loved one. If your family member died because another person or entity was negligent, you might be entitled to a wrongful death settlement. Contact a wrongful death attorney, like a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Salt Lake City, UT, today to learn more and to get started with your case.


Thank you to the experts at Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into wrongful death and the law.


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