Can an Unmarried Partner Sue for Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death occurs when a loved one dies due to the negligence or recklessness of another. What this means is that the individual or another party who might be sued in a wrongful death action engaged in actions or inactions that caused or lead to the injury and death of your loved one. Wrongful death claims involve all kinds of devastating and fatal accidents including medical malpractice, simple motor vehicle accidents, and product liability cases. When a wrongful death occurs, in most states, individuals such as spouses, and children and parents of the deceased have a right to pursue a claim against the responsible parties. A wrongful death suit is generally meant to provide for the decedent’s family financially, particularly if the decedent was the primary breadwinner, and to compensate the family for their grief and their loss. But what happens if you were not actually married to your partner or significant other?
Your Rights When Your Partner Dies
Whether or not you have a right to seek compensation in a wrongful death action will typically depend on the state in which the death occurred. In many states, partners who reside in the same home have several of the same property rights that they would enjoy if they were married legally. But usually, these laws are applicable only to those who are separating or breaking up. Thus, if one partner dies, the property rights they enjoyed as a couple may not necessarily transfer to the surviving partner unless the decedent had a will, or if their relationship was legally recognized by the state.
Some Things to Think About
If your loved one was a victim of an accident that caused their death, and you were not married, you likely have many concerns and questions regarding their estate and your rights. Therefore, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer as soon as possible after the death of your loved one in order to preserve any rights you might have to pursue a wrongful death claim.
Some of the things you may want to consider as they may determine whether you have any rights after your loved one is involved in a fatal accident include:
- Does the state in which the death occurred or in which you lived with your partner recognize a domestic partnership and do you have the paperwork/registration to establish this legal relationship?
- Are you listed in your partner’s will?
- Did you and your partner ever create an oral or written agreement concerning your property rights and belongings?
- Will you now suffer financially because of the death of your loved one?
Again, remember that your rights to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim will depend on the state in which the death occurred. Some states do recognize that domestic partners, and/or putative spouses, or those who truly believe that they were married to the victim, have a right to file a claim. Still, other states allow for financial dependents or anyone who will suffer financial hardship as a result of the death to file a claim even if they are not related by marriage or blood to the victim. Accordingly, if your loved one has been a victim of a fatal accident, you should seek the advice of an experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer who can let you know your rights and options under the law.
Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers
If you have questions regarding your potential injury claim, we have answers. Call Zinda Law Group today at 817-769-8442 to get started with a free attorney consultation. We look forward to helping you seek the justice and compensation you deserve.