When a person dies in a car accident because of another person's actions, there are people who may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the driver who caused the accident. It is important to understand what a wrongful death claim is and who may bring one. It is also equally important to know who can and cannot be sued for wrongful death.
Wrongful death happens when a person's legal fault causes the death of someone else. If the person who caused the death was acting negligently or intentionally, he may be sued. This is important because unless there is legal fault, no claim for wrongful death can be brought even if a death resulted. If the person was acting lawfully and caused someone's death, he is not liable.
Usually the surviving spouse can bring a wrongful death claim. However, there are some circumstances where this is not the case. If the deceased and the surviving spouse were going through a divorce, for example, the surviving spouse may not be able to bring the wrongful death claim. When this is the case, the court may appoint another family member who can bring the wrongful death claim instead.
Other people who might be able to bring wrongful death claims include: children of the deceased, parents of the deceased, the executor, or the administrator. But, only one wrongful death claim can be filed. So, it is important to know whether someone else has already brought a wrongful death claim or if you have more of a right than someone else to bring a wrongful death claim. If several wrongful death claims are filed, the court will decide who will have control over the claim.
For wrongful death claims, people, companies, and government agencies or employees may be sued. However, sometimes government agencies or employees are immune from lawsuits. This means that even if the government agency or employee acted negligently, they will likely not be liable for wrongful death claims. It is helpful to know this before filing claims for wrongful death against an agency you might not be able to recover against.
For more information on wrongful death, please contact Ms. Crossan at Bouchillon-CrossanLaw.com. Ms. Crossan practices in the area of civil litigation. She works in West Virginia and has an office in Huntington, West Virginia.