Claiming for compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one is sure to be difficult, not only because it’s a highly technical case, but also because of the emotions coming into play. After all, a wrongful death is a case where the decedent is believed to have been a victim of another party’s negligence or deliberate intent to harm.
As a result of this demise, the surviving family or dependents will have to face the burden of settling the decedent’s financial obligations as well as a sudden loss of income should the decedent be the family’s breadwinner.
Why File a Claim
The law allows the survivors of a wrongful death victim to file a claim as a way to compensate for the losses incurred. While it’s not, in any way, meant to put a monetary equivalent on the deceased individual, it serves an acknowledgment that the victim, as the breadwinner, was crucial to the family’s survival.
Filing for a claim for compensation is one way to alleviate the financial burden that the decedent leaves behind. As a civil case, it doesn’t seek to put the accountable party behind bars. In some cases, however, there are instances where a criminal case can run alongside a compensation claim.
Statute of Limitations
The first thing you have to be concerned about when filing for a claim is the statute of limitations, which pertains to the allowable period to make the claim. This changes from state to state, but in California, for example, it must be filed within two years from the time of injury or death.
Observing the window afforded by the statute of limitations is critical because otherwise, the claiming party may lose their right to file it completely. Once the period passes, there will be no other legal means for the family to pursue the claim.
Continuing Personal Injury Claim
There are cases when the wrongful death occurs after some period from the actual injury or accident. Upon the demise of the decedent, you should then check if there’s an existing personal injury claim that’s been filed before their passing. If there is, then you, as the representative of the decedent’s estate, can step in instead.
While the pursuit for a personal injury case is separate and distinct from a wrongful death case, it is common practice for the two to be tried or heard together. As the new claimant for the personal injury claim, this should make it a lot more convenient.
Determine Right to Represent Decedent’s Estate
To make things clear, the surviving family of the decedent can make a claim for compensation through a wrongful death case. However, the person filing the case must be specifically named in the will as the estate’s official representative. Should there be no will, the natural hierarchy of individuals who can represent the decedent’s estate start with an adult relative, such as a parent or spouse, and then the child.
Do note that it’s also possible for the claimant not to be included in the list of beneficiaries. Check with your wrongful death lawyer to learn who the legally recognized beneficiaries for a claim as there are specific legal stipulations for that. If you are a beneficiary, but are not legally able to file the claim, then you must coordinate with the estate’s executor.
These are just some of the helpful tips to give you a better chance at claiming for a wrongful death compensation. Knowing more about these claims should help you prepare for the forthcoming ordeals you’ll face as a family. Seek the help of wrongful death lawyers, such as those from D&Z Law Group, to get started on your claim today.
How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works, AllLaw.com
How Do You File a Wrongful Death Claim?, SurvivingWrongfulDeath.com