Depending upon the law of the state in which a person dies, it may be possible for his or her survivors to file a wrongful death lawsuit, a survival action, or both. Typically, state law also dictates who has the right to file suit, the appropriate lawsuit(s), the types of damages that may be sought, and how the proceeds will be divided among the various interested parties.
Difficulties sometimes arise in identifying the proper party to bring the suit. When this happens, it is up to the trial court judge to apply the law to the particular facts of the case. If any litigant is dissatisfied with the judge’s ruling, he or she may seek relief in the court of appeals, or thereafter the state supreme court.