If you are a parent and a child dies due to the negligent, unlawful, or willfully malicious actions of someone else, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. Your rights to sue over the death of a child, however, vary by state to state. It depends partly on factors like your child’s age and marital status at the time of death.
If your child had not yet reached the age of 18 at the time of his or her death, the laws of most, if not all, states affirm your right to file a wrongful death suit. The damages that you can claim as part of a wrongful death action on behalf of a minor child include the following:
- Loss of love and companionship
- Costs associated with the child’s burial and funeral
- Expenses related to medical treatment of the injury that ultimately caused your child’s death
If your child did not die right away, you may also be able to make a survival claim on your child’s behalf for the pain and suffering that he or she endured after the injury but prior to death.
While states overwhelmingly support the right of parents of minor children to sue for wrongful death, they are not at all in agreement as to whether parents can file a lawsuit over the death of a child who was over the age of 18. It depends on the laws of your particular jurisdiction.
The right of a spouse to file a wrongful death suit often supersedes that of parents. Therefore, if your child was married, you may not have the right to file a lawsuit, but your child’s spouse does. The same may hold true if your child had children of his or her own; the children have the right to sue, but you may not. However, if your grown child was not married and did not have kids, you typically have the right to file a lawsuit for wrongful death.
If the laws of your state allow you to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a grown child, you may be able to claim additional damages in addition to those already discussed. These may include loss of care and nurturing that your child would have provided and loss of expected income if your child supported you financially. A good lawyer can explain the laws that apply to your particular situation. Arrange a consultation by contacting a law office today.