Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim can be filed so that the family of the deceased can recover damages due to the untimely death of their loved one. According to the website of Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, the sudden death of a loved one can have a huge effect on various circumstances in the lives of the survivor. However, the law has put certain restrictions on who can file a wrongful death claim to recover damages.

In the olden days, filing a case against someone in a civil court for the death of another individual was not allowed. Although the defendant could still be put to jail, the family of the deceased could not recover damages. As a result, the perpetrator of the killing was in better shape financially if the victim dies either right after getting injured or any time during the trial.

Times have changed even in the filing of a lawsuit against the perpetrator of the crime. Now, every state has laws that superseded the harsh nature of the old rule. Current laws now allow family members to file a wrongful death case.

Current wrongful death statutes are based on two systems namely the Lord Campbell System and the Loss-To-Estate System. Let us briefly discuss each element of the system:

The Lord Campbell System

Patterned after the Lord Campbell Act of 1846, a wrongful death claim can be filed by a designated beneficiary specified by the statute, based on relationship to the deceased. For example, the surviving spouse can be declared as the statutory beneficiary. Only those identified shall be allowed to exercise the right to sue.

The Loss-To-Estate System

In this system, a personal representative of the estate is allowed to file a lawsuit. While the chosen representative can file the suit under their own name, the proceeds of the case shall first be subjected to a trust fund for distribution to designated beneficiaries. The amount of losses will vary from one state to another.