When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty of any person, and the event would have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages if death had not ensued, the person that would have been liable in damages if death had not ensued shall be liable for damages to the deceased persons estate and legal heirs. Although more than one party may have a claim for compensation in the event of Wrongful Death, the general class of people that have standing (a legal right) to bring an action in court for a wrongful death are those who were wholly, or partially, dependent on the deceased for support and maintenance.
The class defined by statute as “Survivors” includes, but is not limited to, the decedent’s spouse, children, parents and can also include other blood relatives if they were wholly dependent on the decedent. The statute recognizes that children born out of wedlock also may be considered survivors. By statute, children of a deceased mother born out of wedlock are automatically considered survivors whereas children of a deceased father are only considered survivors if the father assumed responsibility for the child’s support.
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