Nothing is more devastating to a family than losing a loved one, and when another party’s negligence is responsible for fatal injuries, wrongful death attorneys can help a family get the closure they need. These cases are similar to other negligence claims, in that the family must show that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, and that this duty was violated. As people are expected to act safely whenever they are in public, any recklessness when in public can be grounds for a claim if it results in a fatal injury.


Who is allowed to file a claim on behalf of the victim is determined at the state level, so it can vary from state to state. Some of the people who may be allowed to file a claim include:

  • Members of the victim’s immediate family. This includes the victim’s spouse, their children and the parents, if the child was not married at the time of the incident. Adopted children may file a claim as well. Every state allows immediate family members to file a claim.
  • Financial dependents and life partners.
  • More distant family members. This may include grandparents, if they are raising the victim at the time of the incident.  Grandparents will be more likely to have legal options.
  • Anyone who has been financially affected by the incident. Only some states allow non-blood relatives to file a claim.

There is, however, a statute of limitations on these claims, and the victim’s family may only have a specific amount of time to file a suit.


The loss of a loved one can have major long-term effects on the family – emotionally of course, but financially as well. These damages can be difficult to quantify, but a lawyer will have to do this, as it will provide a starting point for pursuing a settlement. Some of the damages that may be involved in a settlement include:

  • Funeral and medical costs associated with the incident.
  • The victim’s lost wages and future earnings.
  • The victim’s lost benefits, like medical insurance or a pension.
  • The family’s mental pain and suffering.
  • The loss of the victim’s care, guidance, protection and nurturing.
  • The loss of the victim’s companionship and love.
  • The loss of the victim’s consortium.

If the defendant was particularly reckless at the time of the incident, wrongful death attorneys may also push for punitive damages, which are usually rendered when more severe punishment is warranted. Assessing all of these damages is done with the help of experts who will appropriately value the terrible impact of losing a beloved parent, spouse or child.

No settlement can fill the void left behind by a lost loved one, but it can at least provide a measure of closure and help the victim’s family move on.