Two recent cases have highlighted an interesting question about wrongful death lawsuits: can they continue when there are no beneficiaries involved?

For example, in Chicago, two sons have asked to be removed from a wrongful death lawsuit against their father for the murder of their mother in 2004. Although the father was recently found guilty of the murder, both sons have asked to be removed from the case, ostensibly filed on their behalf by their mother’s estate.

Another example comes from Virginia, where the husband of a woman shot by police died, apparently of natural causes, while his $5.35 million lawsuit is still in progress.

In both cases, the lawsuit is going forward. How can the lawsuits go forward without plaintiffs? In these states, as under Ohio wrongful death law, the lawsuit is filed on behalf of the estate of the victim, not for the individuals who may be beneficiaries of that estate. Decisions about the lawsuit are made by the executor of that estate.

In the case of the Chicago murder, both sons were under 18 when the lawsuit began, so the estate’s executor is a lawyer who remains in charge of the lawsuit. The lawyer has stated he believes the sons were pressured by their father or their half-brother to withdraw from the lawsuit.

In the case of Virginia shooting, the man was the administrator of his wife’s estate, but he is being replaced in this role by his son. As long as the administrator of the estate decides to continue the lawsuit, it can go forward despite the protestations or death of potential beneficiaries.

Have you lost a loved one? You may be able to seek compensation with a wrongful death lawsuit. Please contact Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA in Columbus, Ohio today for a free case evaluation.