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How Do I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

How to Bring Suit After a Fatal Accident or Assault

A wrongful death occurs when a person loses his or her life due to the negligent acts or intentional wrongdoing of another person. Every state in the United States has a wrongful death law that gives specific family members the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in order to collect financial compensation following this type of tragedy.

Every state’s wrongful death law is unique in terms of who may bring suit against the wrongdoer to collect compensation. Each state is also particular about when a claim may be brought and what damages may be recovered. It is important to ask an attorney very specific questions about your claim, because these statutes of limitations must be followed carefully.

The Wrongful Death Lawsuit Is Filed by the Estate of the Deceased Person

In formal legal terms, the wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the estate of the deceased person and any compensation is distributed via the estate to qualifying relatives. Thus, to file a wrongful death lawsuit, one of the first steps is to open an estate if the deceased person does not already have one. Your wrongful death attorney will coordinate all legal actions with the estate representative throughout the course of the wrongful death claim.

Liability Is Determined and Compensation Is Collected From Defendants

A wrongful death lawsuit must prove that a specific company or individual — or several companies or individuals — acted carelessly or intentionally in a way that caused the death of the family member. This requires in-depth investigation into the facts surrounding the fatal incident. An attorney with significant experience handling wrongful death claims will know how to lead a thorough investigation to uncover all possible causes of the incident. Often, this means speaking to witnesses, finding surveillance footage or even reconstructing the accident. In-depth investigation is important to ensure that all potential defendants are named in the wrongful death lawsuit.

If liability is proved, compensation will be collected from the defendants by the estate’s personal representative. The compensation will then be distributed among the beneficiaries according to the applicable wrongful death statute. In terms of distribution of the settlement of jury award, it does not matter which family member first decided whether to file a wrongful death lawsuit. What matters is what the state’s wrongful death law says about how compensation must be distributed.

Learn More About Wrongful Death Lawsuits

You may want to review the rest of our FAQ section for answers to other common questions about wrongful death claims:

If you still have questions, especially if your questions concern a recent death in your own family, consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Greenberg Stone and Urbano is an AV-rated* law firm with a nationwide reach. We are able to offer our considerable resources to families across the country because we work with an extensive network of local associate law firms. This allows our wrongful death lawyers to provide strategic advocacy along with a deeply compassionate approach and personalized service.

Find out how our approach can work for your family — regardless of where you live and where the incident occurred. Call toll free (888) 893-9846. Your family does not have to face the future alone.

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