Who Is Eligible to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Hawaii?
In cases of preventable death, the laws of Hawaii allow for a type of personal injury lawsuit known as a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims are based on negligence or intentional actions and stem from incidents and causes such as:
- Auto accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slips and falls
- Defective products
- Helicopter accidents
- Construction accidents
In bringing actions based on negligence, the family of the deceased must prove that the defendant had a duty to avoid harming the victim and that this duty was breached. They must also show that this breach led directly to their loved one’s death.
State law specifically states which family members are allowed to participate in this claim. The claim is brought by one person, but the damages are divided between all eligible parties. Under the law, the proper parties to bring a claim for wrongful death damages include:
- The legal representative of the estate (the executor of the will)
- The deceased person’s surviving husband or wife
- Any “reciprocal beneficiary” (in an arrangement similar to domestic partnership)
- The parents of the deceased
- The children of the deceased
- The deceased person’s financial dependents
It is important to understand that different family members have different rights. Typically, the spouse or surviving children are the ones who can bring a claim. Generally, the right to make a claim only passes to others when immediate family members do not exist or choose not to bring a claim.
In addition to limiting who can bring a wrongful death claim, the state of Hawaii places limits on how long those parties have to file such a claim. These cases typically must be brought within two years of the date of your relative’s death.
Here at Shim & Chang, we assist families during their time of mourning by working to get them the justice and compensation they deserve. If your family has suffered a loss due to the negligence or intentional actions of another, call us at 808-524-5803 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation in our Honolulu office.