In June, the United States Supreme Court ruled that there is a federal constitutional right to same sex marriage. The 5-4 decision negates 31 state marriage amendments and requires every state to recognize and license same-sex marriages. This monumental decision has an immense impact on the lives of same-sex couples, including: couples’ right to adoption; immigration sponsorship; tax, social security and insurance benefits; inheritance; and other financial benefits.
In addition, this landmark decision will greatly benefit same-sex couples when it comes to access to claims or benefits of a potential personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit. Before this ruling, unmarried same-sex couples frequently did not have standing to file a personal injury lawsuit arising out of the death or serious injury of his/her partner. Additionally, same-sex couples that were married, but living in a state that did not recognize their marriage, did not have standing to file a lawsuit on behalf of their partner.
However, in response to this ruling, married same-sex couples will now be able to file a lawsuit, as a surviving spouse, on behalf of their partner. According to the Law Firm Newswire, a same-sex spouse now can recover damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship and protection, and loss of support and services. Furthermore, a surviving spouse may also file a wrongful death claim even if his/her partner dies without having made a will. The same-sex spouse can be selected as the personal representative of the deceased spouse’s estate. Once the same-sex spouse is a personal representative, they have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This ruling also is extremely important because it allows same-sex couples the equivalent legal right as heterosexual couples in regards to filing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of their partners.