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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Can a Girlfriend Sue for Wrongful Death?

Filing a wrongful death suit after an accident is different in every US state. Some allow only family members to do it, while others require a chosen estate representative to handle all matters connected to the case.

What is the procedure in Iowa? Can a girlfriend sue for wrongful death? From filing the claim to seeing it through, here are all the relevant facts one must know.

Wrongful Death Explained

Wrongful Death Explained

A wrongful death occurs when a person loses their life due to another’s negligence or misconduct. It most often happens in traffic accidents, but it is also possible to sue for medical malpractice, manufacturing defects, and so on. (If you want to avoid motorcycle accidents, learn what motorcycle safety gear one should have.)

It is important to note that a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action. As such, it is separate from any criminal charges. It aims to give the family of the deceased compensation for the loss that they have experienced.

For a wrongful death claim to be accepted and tried in court, it must be filed within the state's statute of limitations. In Iowa, that is two years from the day of the passing. After that, people lose the right to file a lawsuit.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Iowa?

According to Iowa’s statutes, a wrongful death claim can be filed by the deceased person’s chosen estate representative. Also called the executor, this representative is someone the late person appoints in their will.

Most commonly, the decision on naming the executor is up to the deceased. It can be a family member, a significant other, a friend, or simply a lawyer. Thus, the answer to the starting question is simple. Yes, a girlfriend can file a wrongful death claim, but only if she is the executor named in the will.

However, not everyone has a will. If someone’s actions cause the death of a child, teenager, or anyone who has not had the chance to write a will, the court has to appoint a representative.

There are only two requirements one must meet to be able to serve as an executor. Firstly, they have to be at least 18 years old. Secondly, they have to be of sound mind. While some states prohibit convicted felons from being estate representatives, that is not the case in Iowa.

In certain cases, the court can reject someone as an executor if it considers the person problematic. For example, it can prohibit someone from being a representative if they have a drinking problem, abuse drugs, or are a spendthrift.

Sometimes, one can also have a corporation as an estate executor. It usually happens if the estate is large. For a corporation to serve as a representative, it has to have the status of a fiduciary. In other words, it has to be legally obligated to put the estate’s interests first.

The Usual Wrongful Death Suit Procedure

To start a wrongful death case, the estate executor has to file a complaint with a court. The suit aims to provide those left behind with compensation for their loss. While money cannot make up for a lost life, it can make recovering and moving on at least slightly better.

In most cases, wrongful death cases settle outside of court, as the costs of a trial often outweigh the potential benefits winning can bring. Thus, lawyers often negotiate between themselves and with insurance companies.

After filing the suit, the plaintiff’s lawyer collects evidence and starts building a case. They may start negotiations with the other party at any point in the process. Since the attorney has their client’s best interests at heart, they will fight for a fair settlement and make sure that they get the money they are entitled to.

The only time a lawyer will willingly take a case to trial is if they are sure they can get a better offer than the one the defendant is offering. Still, this situation is not very common.

The Importance of Legal Support

Filing a wrongful death suit is a long and tiring process. When someone is grieving the death of someone dear, negotiating and collecting evidence is the last thing they want to do. That is why it is best to hire a reputable lawyer to handle the matter in their name.

Experienced Des Moines wrongful death attorneys know exactly how to negotiate with insurance companies and other lawyers. If you want to know if insurance covers wrongful death, they will make sure that the grieving side gets the compensation they deserve so they can start their healing journey.


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