Top Law Guide

Who Can Sue for Damages in a Wrongful Death

If someone was killed or died due to misconduct or negligence of another, the survivors can file a lawsuit case for a wrongful death. This lawsuit is seeking for compensation for the loss of the survivors.  Such losses include, but is not limited to, the lost income or salary of the decedent and funeral expenses. A claim of wrongful death exists when someone died because of another person’s fault.

Proofs of a Wrongful Death

The following proofs must be present to have a successful cause of action in a wrongful death case:

  1. Human being’s death
  2. An intention to harm someone or negligence of another person
  3. The survival members of the decedent’s family are suffering a monetary injury because of the death
  4. An appointment of the estate’s personal representative for the decedent

Who Can Sue?

State laws offer recoveries for the immediate member of the decedent’s family including the children, surviving spouse, and even parents. Every state has a set of statues or a civil statute of a wrongful death. This statute demonstrates the process of bringing actions to compensate the loved ones of the victim.However, it should be remembered that the statute of wrongful death will differ from state to state.

Generally, the estate’s personal representative for the decedent will carry the wrongful death suit. The personal representative will also invoke the actions for conscious suffering and pain, personal injury, or the incurred expenses prior to the death of the decedent. The damage awards from the said actions will be under the estate. These can be passed to other parties if specified in the will of the decedent.

Damages for a Wrongful Death

The main measures of wrongful death damages are the financial or pecuniary injury. According to the courts, pecuniary injuries will include the loss of services, support, inheritance prospect, and the funeral and medical expenses. Most laws state that the awarded damages for wrongful deaths should have be just and fair.

The distributees can also recover the incurred expenses. That is if they already paid or were the one responsible for the funeral and medical expenses of the decedent. Lastly, interests from the date of death will be included in the damage award.

Determining Pecuniary Injury/Loss

It is important to consider the character, condition, and age of the decedent in determining the pecuniary loss. His capacity in earning, intelligence and health, life expectancy, and the distributees’ circumstances are also important. The investigation may be straightforward, but it sometimes becomes difficult, especially because pecuniary injury is the measure used for damages. Normally, the major consideration in damage awards is the circumstances of the decedent at the time of his death.


The statutes of a wrongful death differ from one state to the other, but generally, they determine someone that may sue for such death and if there are any limits that may be applied to any damages. In fact, these statutes are made to provide financial support to orphans and widows.