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When the Worst Happens: How to File a Wrongful Death Claim

Sadly, sometimes your worst fears come true. A loved one may have died tragically. Even worse, the death may have seemed preventable. Another party at your loved one’s workplace may have acted in a way that caused the death or not acted at all to prevent it from happening. If this is the case, however, you may be able to seek compensation by filing a wrongful death claim. Below are some steps to take if this holds true for you and your loved one.

Determine If You Can File a Wrongful Death Claim

The law for who can file a wrongful death claim is different in each state. In all states, spouses and children can file a claim. Extended family members, however, may have more difficulty. Siblings and grandparents can file in some states. The family members in question must also be able to substantiate that they suffered damages caused by the death that can be measured.

Determine If Negligence Occurred

For a wrongful death claim to be successful, it must be shown that the defendant demonstrated negligence that resulted in the death occurring. You must be able to demonstrate some level of causation. If your family member died of natural causes that were unrelated to his or her work, your claim will probably be unsuccessful. Instead, an action or lack of action by some other party that created a foreseeable danger must have led to the death.

Open a Probate Estate

To seek a wrongful death claim, you must have legal standing to do so on the behalf of your deceased loved one. In many states this requires opening a probate estate. This is a complicated and technical process. It will involve following your loved one’s last will and testament, naming an executor, determining who inherits what assets and more.

Work with an Attorney

While you could technically represent yourself and your loved one in court, it’s typically not wise to do so. The case law and legal code regarding wrongful deaths is vast and complicated. If you want your case to be successful, you should consider working with an attorney like Wells and McElwee or someone similar. Choosing an attorney who has successfully presented similar claims in the past is usually a good idea.

The death of a loved one can be a very traumatizing thing to have to endure. However, sometimes such a death could have been prevented. If that is the case for your loved one, certainly consider hiring an attorney and seeking the compensation you deserve in a court of law.

Author information: Kare Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max. You can find Kara on Facebook and Twitter.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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