What is Wrongful Death in North Dakota?

Wrongful death is outlined under the state’s statute 32-21-01. The state defines a wrongful death as a death caused by neglect, wrongful act or default of another person or an entity. The act that causes a person’s death may be intentional, reckless or negligent. However, the act would have to cause the untimely death of an individual. This means that if the reckless, intentional or negligent act hadn’t occurred, the person who sustained the injury would be still be living.

North Dakota Wrongful Death Only Allows Specific People to Sue on Behalf of the Victim

One of the first major steps in a wrongful death claim is determining who can file a lawsuit on the victim’s behalf. State law has a specific list of people who can file a wrongful death claim. The order on the list is strict. This means that one person on the list can’t decide to file a claim before another family member on the list. Thus, only the following people are allowed to file a lawsuit in this order:

  1. The victim’s spouse
    2. The victim’s surviving child or children
    3. Any surviving parent of the victim
    4. The grandparents of the victim
    5.A personal representative. This is the executive of the victim’s will.
    6.The individual who had custody of the victim at the time of their death

    Parties Can Lose Their Legal Right to Sue for Their Loved Ones Death

According to personal injury law Minot ND, the person higher on the list has the right to file a wrongful death. For example, if the victim has surviving children and surviving parents. The victim’s surviving children have the legal right to file the claim. However, the situation changes if someone on the list asks an individual higher on the list to file a lawsuit.

For example, a victim’s children ask their stepmother to file a wrongful death claim. According to statute section 31.21-03, if the party entitled to sue either refuses or does not do so within 30 days, they lose their legal right to sue. The person asking for the lawsuit can file. Therefore, if the stepmother fails to file a lawsuit within the 30-day period, she loses her right to sue. The surviving children can then sue.

Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Claim

A wrongful death claim must be filed in a North Dakota civil court within a two-year period. This means that the family has two years from the date of the victim’s death to sue. This is called statute of limitations. If it does not happen, all family members and the personal representative are barred from suing.

Contact a North Dakota Attorney about a Loved One’s Untimely Death

A wrongful death claim is a personal injury lawsuit because the injured individual is no longer able to protect their legal rights. Instead, the responsibility of suing on their behalf is on the victim’s estate. If successful, the estate receives financial justice for the untimely loss of the individual. Starting the process of obtaining financial just begins with contacting a lawyer.