who can file a wrongful death lawsuit

It is never easy to cope with the death of a loved one.

This is especially true if the death was untimely and preventable.

If someone else’s negligent action or inaction caused your loved one’s death, you might be entitled to file an Arkansas wrongful death lawsuit

Filing a wrongful death claim in Arkansas provides the opportunity for you to obtain meaningful compensation to help you get through this financial hardship and seek justice for what has been done.

The team at the Cottrell Law Office understands how difficult it can be to walk through the legal process in the midst of grief. We are here to help.

What Is Wrongful Death in Arkansas?

Wrongful death in Arkansas is defined as a death that is “caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another person, company, or corporation according to Arkansas Code § 16-62-102 (2022).

The action that caused the death of your loved one could be accidental or intentional.

Here are some of the most common types of wrongful death cases:

  • Medical malpractice, 
  • Automobile accidents, 
  • Defective drugs or medications, 
  • Accidents involving premises liability, 
  • Workplace accidents, 
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents, and
  • Product malfunctions.

The circumstances of your claim could be similar to any of these or vastly different.

Your wrongful death attorney can help you understand the strength of your case and the best legal strategy for your unique situation. 

Wrongful Death vs. Survival Claim

Wrongful death and survival claims are often confused.

An Arkansas wrongful death lawsuit is meant to compensate heirs for the financial and emotional impact of the loss that they personally experience.

A survival claim is designed to compensate the estate for losses suffered by the decedent prior to death.

Essentially, if the deceased had survived and been eligible to file a personal injury claim, you could still file a claim.

If successful, compensation would be paid to the decedent’s heirs. You can also bring both a wrongful death and survival claim simultaneously. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

To file a wrongful death claim in Arkansas, you must meet certain criteria in relation to the deceased.

It is important to understand who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Ideally, the person to file the claim is the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.

In some states, this is called the “executor.” If there was no personal representative at the time of death, then the “heirs at law” are the people who can file a wrongful death claim.

These are eligible heirs under Arkansas law:

  • The surviving spouse, children, siblings, or parents of the deceased; 
  • A person who is acting in place of a parent, such as a legal guardian. This person is standing “in loco parentis” for the deceased; or
  • A person to whom the deceased stood “in loco parentis” at any time during the life of the deceased. This person would have been a dependant of the deceased.

If you or someone you know is considering filing a wrongful death claim in Arkansas, it is important to know that all states have different rules for who can file a wrongful death claim. 

Damages for an Arkansas Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The exact award or settlement to which you are entitled is dependent upon the unique circumstances surrounding the claim, including who is liable and the extent that others were dependent upon the decedent.

Generally, the heirs are entitled to both economic and non-economic damages

Economic damages pertain to the actual financial impact of the loss, which could include loss of household income, loss of employment benefits like healthcare, and compensation for funeral and burial expenses.

In some situations, compensation could cover the cost of paying someone else to do the things the decedent would have done for their family if they’d lived—like home maintenance or caring for a dependent. 

Non-economic damages are more difficult to monetize and pertain to the mental and emotional components of the loss.

Anxiety, depression, loss of parental guidance, and loss of spousal relations can all fit into this damages category.

To prove non-economic damages, the court will evaluate the nature and extent of your relationship with the deceased. 

Choosing an Arkansas Wrongful Death Attorney

The Cottrell Law Office has over 32 years of experience helping members of the communities we serve to find justice for wrongful death and other personal injuries.

Though we can never take away the pain of losing a loved one, we can help you use the law to its fullest extent and receive the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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