Only certain people have standing to sue in court after a wrongful death.

The right to file a wrongful death lawsuit belongs to the estate of the person who died. Thus, it is the personal representative of the estate who has the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Iowa. If the person who died had a will, then the will likely named the personal representative, who will have the legal right to start the lawsuit. If the person who died did not have a will at the time of death, then the court will appoint a personal representative so that a potential wrongful death case can move forward.

If your loved died, then it is important to find out who the personal representative is and to express your opinion about pursuing a wrongful death claim—or to take action if you are the personal representative.

Filing a Lawsuit Is Not the Same as Recovering Damages

While the estate has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the estate is a legal entity, not a person. Thus, wrongful death law allows certain relatives to recover damages in a wrongful death case. This includes close relatives such as spouses, children, and parents—regardless of whether or not they are the personal representative of the estate.

It’s Important to Know Your Rights

If a person who does not have legal standing to file a case attempts to file a complaint in court, then the defense will make a motion to dismiss the case—which the court will likely grant. This will delay your just recovery and be an unnecessary step in the wrongful death process.

For more information about how a wrongful death claim works in Iowa or for help filing your own claim, please contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer. We are available to take your call any time, and we would be pleased to schedule a free consultation with you at your convenience.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.