A wrongful death occurs when the wrongful or negligent act of another results in a loss of life. The victim of a wrongful death is referred to as the “decedent.” Wrongful death actions are different from other types of personal injury cases. Unlike other tort claims where the victim files suit against an alleged wrongdoer, the decedent's estate or a member of the decedent's family files suit in a wrongful death action. The purpose of a wrongful death suit is to provide relief to family members who have been injured emotionally and financially as a result of the family member's death.
To file a wrongful death suit in Massachusetts, you must show that:
Only certain individuals can file wrongful death claims, and those that are allowed to sue do so on behalf of others. In Massachusetts, the executor or administrator of the deceased may file a suit on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, or parents. Siblings and cousins of the decedent have no right of recovery so long as there is a surviving spouse, child, or parent of the decedent. If there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent, however, siblings and cousins may participate in the recovery through the estate. M.G.L. Ch 229, § 1