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Laws surrounding wrongful death lawsuits, including who can file one and who receives the payout varies by jurisdiction. However, if a person dies as a result of the negligence or a careless act of another, he or she can be considered as having suffered a wrongful death. The family of the deceased individual can file a wrongful death personal injury lawsuit for financial compensation for their losses. Filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit is a complex legal process. If you lost a loved one to a needless accident or under other, avoidable circumstances you may be best served by speaking with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Here is a brief overview that may clarify the process of getting justice for your loved one.

Wrongful Death Limitations

In some states, there is a cap, or maximum amount, on the amount of money that can be recovered from a wrongful death lawsuit. In other states, there is no cap, and families may not be entitled to compensation for grief, emotional distress, or loss of love and affection. In most instances, survivors may receive monetary compensation for:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Child support and retirement income

Statute of Limitations

Wrongful death lawsuits filed on behalf of the deceased’s family must be submitted to the court within a specified timeframe after their loved one’s death date. That statute of limitations timeframe varies by state and your wrongful death lawyer can tell you how it applies in your case.

Civil Suit Litigation

A civil wrongful death lawsuit is filed separately from any criminal charges pending against the defendant for his or her behavior. Note that it is not a requirement that criminal charges are pending, or that the accused was convicted, in order to file a wrongful death suit.

Wrongful Death Compensation

If you lost your loved one due to a wrongful death, you may not want try to negotiate with employers, insurance companies, and defendants by yourself unless you have experience in this. Instead, you may benefit from the services of a wrongful death attorney who will strive to recover the maximum possible compensation for your losses. Wrongful death litigation may be filed in response to:

  • On the job injuries
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Trip and fall liability
  • Defective products

Accident Attorney

A wrongful death accident attorney can build a case based on evidence and eyewitness testimony to show who was at fault for your loved one’s death. An experienced attorney may have a network of professionals he or she works with, such as a forensic accident investigator. In more complex wrongful death cases, there may be more than one defendant based on what the evidence shows.


The surviving spouse or domestic partner of the deceased is very often the person who files the wrongful death suit. Not anyone can file the suit, and the person who does must be approved by the court. When there is no surviving spouse, the plaintiff may be the deceased’s

  • Child
  • Parent
  • Sibling

Wrongful Death Award

Wrongful death award amounts are determined by the judge or jury based on the merits of the case and the losses suffered by the designated family member who brought the suit. In some states, the award is paid directly to the plaintiff. In other states, the award is paid to the deceased’s estate and distributed to the heirs as designated in the will. If they died without leaving a will, then the wrongful death award is distributed to the victim’s family based on a predetermined percentages to the spouse, children, and/or parents.

If you lost a spouse, parent, or child and believe you have a wrongful death case, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Contact what many consider one of the best attorneys Folsom California has for your needs, and receive a free one-time consultation that can provide more information about wrongful death litigation in your state.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning.