Wrongful death claims are established under state law. That same authority also dictates who is allowed to file a claim for wrongful death. In many states, that eligibility list includes more than just the spouse or partner of the deceased; it can include multiple parties, all of whom feel injured or negatively impacted by the loss of a loved one. The parties also don’t automatically need to be related to each other either. The typically included categories are:
- The spouse who survives the deceased if still legally married when the deceased passed.
- A domestic partner who was in a registered domestic relationship at the time of death.
- A person entitled to the property of the deceased absent a will or estate tool directing otherwise.
- A former spouse or children who, by relationship severed in a divorce had a prior marriage confirmed by the court.
- A minor who was under the support and care of the deceased for at least six months (varies by state).
- A proxy legally empowered to represent the decedent.
Obviously, with this many potential parties able to file a wrongful death claim for the same deceased person, things can become very complicated quickly. Unresolved claims can cause complications in probate, retirement death benefit distributions, Social Security benefits, and more. And when this kind of confusion occurs, it can take an experienced wrongful death attorney to make sense of the matter and find clarity again.
Obtain The Right Legal Help Versus Just Legal Help
Technically, any attorney can take on a wrongful death case if licensed by the state bar to practice, but experience makes a big difference in the outcome. Representation by experts in wrongful death litigation, like those at Killian, Davis, Richter & Kraniak PC as well as similar law firms stands out, both in their knowledge and practice, including being recognized by the local court system for the specialization in the matter. That kind of depth can avoid technical problems with local court rules and procedural pitfalls, and it can also help with proactively reaching out to other parties to find common ground.
An Objective Expert Can Help
The passing of a loved one will always be disruptive. It doesn’t need to be made even more complicated by competing legal wrangling to hold the party responsible for wrongful death. An experienced attorney team can be extremely helpful in arriving at a coordinated approach toward pursuing accountability, especially when the harm has affected multiple eligible parties.