Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?

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Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?

By Steven Jensen
July 5, 2023
Who can sue for wrongful death

At Parker + McConkie, we understand the profound impact that the untimely death of a loved one can have on your life. In such challenging times, you need a compassionate legal team who can guide you through your legal options and advocate for your rights. In certain circumstances, a wrongful death claim may be pursued to secure justice and compensation for losing your loved one. It is crucial to understand who may be eligible to sue for wrongful death and provide insights into such a claim’s process and potential outcomes.

Wrongful death lawsuits and wrongful death claims can be complicated, but our team’s experienced wrongful death lawyer will guide you through every step of your wrongful death suit. Learn more about how we can help you below, and reach out to us to schedule a free initial case consultation.

What Are Some Types of Wrongful Death Cases?

What are some types of wrongful death cases

Wrongful death cases are tragically common and can arise from a multitude of circumstances, each with its unique complexities. Several types of accidents could result in wrongful death suits:

  • Medical Malpractice: Medical malpractice arises when a healthcare provider, such as a doctor or nurse, fails to provide the standard level of care, resulting in the patient’s death. This can occur in various ways, including surgical errors, incorrect diagnosis, improper treatment, or neglect in a care facility. Misdiagnosis could result in wrongful death if a patient doesn’t receive timely or appropriate treatment for a fatal condition.
  • Vehicular Accidents: Accidents involving motor vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, trucks, or pedestrians, are a frequent cause of wrongful death cases. In some cases, a third party, like a vehicle manufacturer or a government entity entrusted with road maintenance, may be held liable for the car accident.
  • Workplace Accidents: Workplace accidents can result in wrongful death, especially in high-risk industries like construction, mining, or manufacturing. These accidents could stem from safety violations, employer neglect, faulty machinery, or inadequate training.
  • Product Liability: This pertains to scenarios where a defective or unsafe product causes death. If a product is found to have a design defect, manufacturing defect, or insufficient warnings that result in a user’s death, a wrongful death claim could be made.
  • Premises Liability: Property owners have an obligation of care to guarantee that their property is safe for visitors. If a property’s unsafe condition, such as a wet floor, defective staircase, or inadequate security, results in a fatal injury, it could give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit.

At Parker + McConkie, we bring our extensive experience and knowledge of wrongful death statutes to bear, ensuring the rights of the deceased and their loved ones are vigorously defended.

What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

What are the elements of a wrongful death lawsuit

A wrongful death lawsuit revolves around certain key elements, each of which must be satisfactorily proven for a successful claim. These elements give the case its structure and form the basis for the legal arguments to be made:

  • Death of a Person: While this might seem self-evident in a wrongful death claim, providing official documentation such as a death certificate is a necessary part of the process. The death certificate not only proves that the individual has passed away, but it also provides crucial information, such as the cause and time of death, which may be vital pieces of evidence in the lawsuit.
  • Negligence or Intent to Cause Harm: In the heart of any wrongful death claim lies the need to prove that the defendant’s negligent or intentional actions directly caused the death. Negligence involves establishing that the defendant had a duty of care towards the deceased, that they breached this duty, and this breach directly led to the death.
  • Surviving Beneficiaries or Dependents: To file a wrongful death claim, there must be surviving individuals who have suffered a loss as a result. These are typically immediate family members like spouses, children, or parents, but can also include others who were financially dependent on the deceased person’s estate. Proving the relationship and the resulting loss often requires personal testimony and financial records.
  • Monetary Damages: Lastly, the death must have resulted in quantifiable financial damages. These can entail medical and funeral expenses, loss of income and benefits, and loss of inheritance, among other costs. Determining these damages can be a complex process that takes into account various factors, such as the earning potential of the deceased person, life expectancy, and the needs of the survivors.

The burden of proof in a wrongful death lawsuit lies with the plaintiff (the one filing the lawsuit). Each of these elements must be established to the court’s satisfaction. This task demands a deep comprehension of the law, detailed preparation, and compelling presentation of the evidence. The experienced attorneys at Parker + McConkie can guide you through this complex process, working tirelessly to build a robust case and fight for the justice you deserve.

Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?

A variety of individuals or entities may be held liable for wrongful death, including individuals, companies, government agencies, or employees. The potential defendant(s) often depends on who was responsible for the death and the circumstances surrounding the case.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?

Who can sue for wrongful death?

The right to file a wrongful death lawsuit is typically restricted to a representative of the decedent’s estate, acting on behalf of surviving family members who have a direct interest in the case. However, laws can vary by state, so discussing with an experienced wrongful death attorney is crucial. Generally, those who can sue include:


Given the shared financial and emotional ties, a surviving spouse often has the most direct claim in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Surviving Children

Surviving minor children may sue for the loss of parental guidance and financial support. Depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances, adult children may also have a claim.


The parents of minor children can typically sue for wrongful death. The parents of adult children may also be able to sue, particularly if they are financially dependent on their child.


In some cases, siblings may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, specifically if they were financially or otherwise reliant on the departed.

Other Family Members

Extended family members like grandparents or legal guardians may also have the right to sue if they were caretakers of the deceased.


Those financially dependent on the deceased, even if not related by blood or marriage, may be eligible to file a claim in some jurisdictions.

Domestic Partners

In certain states, a domestic partner of the deceased may have the right to bring a wrongful death action.

Life Partners

Depending on the state laws, a life partner may be able to bring a wrongful death claim.

Financial Dependents

Individuals who were financially reliant on the deceased, even if they’re not directly related, might be able to sue for wrongful death.

Putative Spouses

In some states, a putative spouse (a person who had a good faith belief that they were married to the deceased) may have the right to file a wrongful death claim.

How Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit normally commences with a thorough investigation of the death and consultation with an experienced attorney. Once the liable parties have been identified and evidence collected, a legal claim outlining the case’s details and the damages sought is filed in the appropriate court.

It’s crucial to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney like those at Parker + McConkie to navigate the legal complexities involved and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

How Long Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Take?

How long does a wrongful death settlement take

The timeframe for a wrongful death settlement can vary widely depending on the intricacy of the case, the number of parties involved, the readiness of the parties to settle, and court schedules. Cases can resolve in a few months or take several years if they proceed to trial.

What Damages Are Awarded in Wrongful Death Cases?

In a wrongful death case, the objective is to compensate for the losses associated with the untimely passing of a loved one. Various damages may be awarded depending on the case’s specifics. Here, we delve deeper into each category:

  • Medical and Funeral Expenses: This includes the cost of any medical care the deceased required as a result of the incident leading to their death. It also covers the expenses associated with their funeral and burial. These are immediate costs often borne by the family, and therefore, they can be reimbursed through the wrongful death claim.
  • Loss of the Deceased’s Expected Earnings: This refers to the financial contributions the deceased would have made to their family had they lived. Calculating this figure can be complex, as it takes into account the deceased’s age, health, life expectancy, earning capacity, and other factors. An experienced attorney can help determine a fair estimate.
  • Loss of Benefits: The loss of benefits involves compensation for the benefits the deceased provided to their dependents, such as health insurance, pension plans, or other retirement benefits. The value of these lost benefits can add up significantly over time, and it’s important to include them in your claim.
  • Pain and Suffering, and Mental Anguish Experienced by the Survivors: This pertains to the emotional distress caused by the loss of a loved one. While no amount of money can truly compensate for such a loss, the law recognizes that survivors deserve to be compensated for their emotional suffering.
  • Loss of Care, Companionship, and Guidance: The loss of a loved one’s love, care, companionship, guidance, and nurturing can be one of the most difficult aspects of a wrongful death. These non-economic damages attempt to quantify the intangible elements that the deceased contributed to their family’s life.
  • Punitive Damages: These damages are granted in cases where the defendant’s actions were particularly severe or reckless. The aim here is not to compensate the family but rather to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future. While not awarded in every case, they can significantly increase the total compensation in cases where they apply.

Calculating and proving these damages requires thorough legal knowledge and expertise. The dedicated team at Parker + McConkie can meticulously evaluate these factors to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve in your wrongful death claim.

Schedule an Initial Consultation With Our Wrongful Death Attorney at Parker + McConkie Today

Schedule an initial consultation with our wrongful death attorney

The loss of a loved one is an emotionally devastating experience, and the prospect of a legal battle can feel overwhelming. At Parker + McConkie, our compassionate and experienced attorneys are here to guide you through this challenging time. We are committed to securing justice for your loved one and ensuring you receive the financial compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

How Can We Help You?

Schedule a Free Consultation Now By Contacting Our Team at (801) 980-9708