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Who has the right to file a wrongful death claim in Iowa?

Fatal car crashes, slip-and-falls and other accidents happen every day across the state of Iowa. Many of these situations are not truly accidents because proper care or appropriate behavior could have prevented them from occurring.

In a situation where negligence or willful misconduct contributes to someone’s death, the people who loved the deceased individual may have a statutory right to take legal action against the responsible individual or business. Wrongful death lawsuits allow surviving family members to hold people and businesses accountable for actions that caused the death of someone. There are limits to the right to file a wrongful death claim, and one of those limits involves who has the right to file such a lawsuit.

Immediate family members typically have the right to file a wrongful death claim under Iowa law. Parents, spouses and children are the family members specifically mentioned in state law.  However, the rights of parents are secondary to the rights of children and spouses.

In a scenario where the person who died didn’t have children or a spouse, their parents could pursue action against the responsible party. However, if the victim had a spouse and children, they have primary rights. This statute makes sense when you consider the fact that it will be the immediate family members who have the most impact from a wrongful death as opposed to the parents or more distant family members of the deceased who may not have been immediately dependent on their income and household services.

If you think that you might have the right to bring a wrongful death claim, discussing this scenario that led to your loved one’s death with an experienced attorney can give you a better idea of what rights you have.

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