When Should You File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful Death

A wrongful death suit attempts to recover compensation for non-economic damages suffered by family members of the deceased. These damages include loss of companionship, love, affection, and mental anguish.

States determine who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, and most allow spouses and children to do so. After the case is filed, all named defendants are served with copies of the lawsuit.

Preparing a Wrongful Death Claim

Losing a loved one is hard, but it’s especially devastating when you believe another party caused their death. Determining the validity of a wrongful death claim allows families to receive financial support and justice.

State laws vary, but the deceased person’s estate executor may typically file a lawsuit. Sometimes, the dead person’s spouse, domestic partner, or children might sue.

Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the death and gather all relevant evidence. This is usually done with the help of several experts.

Unlike filing a car accident or slip and fall case, wrongful death suits can involve complex legal issues and complicated damage valuations. Pursuing this type of action with a seasoned attorney is wise. You could lose out on a significant sum of your entitled money. In addition, you would be risking your future.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a deadline that sets the maximum amount of time a family may have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Its significance must be balanced as missing the statute of limitations will likely bar any chance for financial compensation.

This period varies from state to state. The clock typically begins two years after a loved one’s death in New York. However, if the potential defendant is imprisoned or otherwise absent, the clock will not start until that person becomes competent to proceed with the case.

The law also allows for a one-year extension if the potential defendant has a criminal case pending that contributed to the accident victim’s death. This is very rare, but it’s essential to speak with an experienced attorney to learn more about the statute of limitations in your case. If a wrongful death claim is filed, it can provide a sense of justice for the surviving family members and help deter similar behavior in the future.


The death of a loved one is always painful, but it can be challenging when another party’s negligence contributes to their passing. Wrongful death claims can help to lessen the financial burdens of the loss and provide a sense of justice for those left behind.

Economic damages are the most common damages awarded in wrongful death cases. These cover the monetary value of the deceased’s lost income, including wages, potential promotions, and pension or retirement benefits.

Non-economic damages can also be claimed. These include the intangible losses that the victim’s family members have experienced, such as love, companionship, support, and guidance. In addition to compensating family members, wrongful death lawsuits can be used to hold negligent parties accountable and deter others from taking unnecessary risks that put the public at risk. Punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant’s actions are especially egregious. This can encourage other companies and individuals to change their practices.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Wrongful death lawsuits can help families seek justice and compensation for their loss. While no money can bring back your loved one, financial judgments can deter negligent parties and help you pay for other expenses related to your loss.

Depending on your state’s laws, eligible survivors may be able to file wrongful death claims. This generally includes immediate family members like spouses and children and sometimes putative spouses and parents of unmarried children. In addition, some states allow for “survival actions,” which are brought by the representative of the deceased person’s estate and will enable that person to recover damages for pain and suffering before the person’s death.

Your attorney must thoroughly investigate the incident and gather evidence, including medical records, accident reports, eyewitness accounts, etc. You must also identify and notify the parties responsible for your claim. Once your attorney has prepared the case, they will likely negotiate with the defendants to settle. If no agreement is reached, the matter will go to trial.