Accepting the passing of a loved one is difficult. If someone else caused the death through some form of negligence, coping with the situation is even more challenging.
Qualifying individuals can seek compensation through a wrongful death claim, which is a type of civil action.
Defining wrongful death claims
A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought against a person or entity whose negligence, recklessness or intentional act caused someone’s death. It allows surviving family members or representatives to seek compensation for the loss of their loved one.
These claims typically arise from various incidents, including car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents or criminal acts. Every case is different, but if the deceased could have filed a personal injury claim had they lived, eligible survivors may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
Purpose of wrongful death claims
The primary purpose of a wrongful death claim is to provide financial support to the deceased person’s surviving family members who have been negatively affected by the loss. This compensation may cover medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, loss of companionship and emotional suffering endured by the surviving family members.
Immediate family members
Immediate family members, such as spouses, children and parents, have the primary right to file a wrongful death claim in Delaware. These individuals often suffer significant emotional and financial losses as a result of the deceased’s untimely death.
If immediate family members do not pursue a wrongful death claim, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file on behalf of the estate and beneficiaries. This representative acts in the estate’s best interests and distributes any damages awarded according to Delaware’s laws of intestate succession or the decedent’s will.
Dependents and financial dependence
In some cases, individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased may also be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. This can include individuals such as partners or other relatives.
Delaware law outlines specific statutory beneficiaries who may be able to seek compensation in a wrongful death claim. Their relationship to the deceased and their dependency on the deceased for financial support or other forms of care determine these beneficiaries.
Time limits for filing
Typically, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the deceased’s death. Failing to file within this timeframe may result in the loss of the right to seek compensation.
Although financial compensation cannot take the place of your loved one, a wrongful death claim may help you deal with your loss.