Losing a loved one is never easy, but there are ways that you can make the aftermath a little less painful. For example, a wrongful death lawsuit can help you recover quite a bit of money, which can then go towards paying off medical bills, funeral expenses, and living expenses for the grieving family. Here are some of the key points of how such lawsuits work:

What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

When someone dies, their family and estate has the option of filing a lawsuit against the party that was responsible for the death. As you might expect, this requires that there actually is an identifiable party that is to blame for the death, so if you aren't sure exactly who is to blame or if no one was to blame, then a lawsuit isn't a viable option.

Of course, a wrongful death lawsuit also needs to prove that the death was wrongful, which can be a little harder than you might expect. Proving negligence on the part of the offending party is often enough, but the level of proof required varies from case to case.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

In almost every case, the personal representative of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit on the behalf of the estate. The proceeds will go towards debts of the estate and will generally go to the dependents of the deceased.

In most cases, the children and spouse of the deceased can file as well. In some cases (and most commonly when it was a child that died), the parents may file as well.

Finally, some states also allow other dependents to file such lawsuits (which can include siblings). However, this is not true for every state, so you will want to research the laws in your state before proceeding.

What is the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit?

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is almost always tied to the personal injury statute of limitations. While some states only give you a single year to file, other states can give you more than 5. Due to this massive disparity, it's crucial that you figure out how the laws in your state work before proceeding. If you live in a state that is very generous in its deadlines, then you don't have to rush too much, but the last thing that you want is to accidentally miss the deadline because you assumed that you had more time than you really did.

For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer, like one at Clearfield & Kofsky.