When someone dies because of someone else’s negligence, you have a right to sue them. This is what is known as a wrongful death claim.
What Does A Wrongful Death Claim Entail?
Wrongful death exists when a person dies due to someone else’s recklessness. A wrongful death lawsuit is actually a law that was introduced to the U.S from England. Until a century ago, “common law” did not recognize this kind of lawsuit. So family members, spouses or relatives of people who died because of someone else’s negligence could not recover their losses. Every state in North America now has some kind of law for wrongful death.
A wrongful death claim can range from product liability cases to medical malpractice to simple car accidents. You can hold governmental agencies, companies and even people for acting negligently and even intentionally towards someone else’s death.
Who Can File A Lawsuit For Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim can only be filed by real parties in interest (a representative of the survivors who suffered damage as a result of their loved ones death). The real parties in interest may vary from one state to another but in all states, immediate family members, children and spouses can sue for wrongful death.
Who Can Be Sued For A Wrongful Death Claim?
You can sue a wide variety of employees, government agencies, companies and people for wrongful death. For instance, in a car accident involving a drunk driver and a faulty roadway, a wrongful death claim might be brought against:
- Owner of the property where alcohol was being served
- The person who sold alcohol to the drunk driver and allowed him to drive
- The installer, distributor or manufacturer of the faulty part of the car
- The designer of the faulty road
- The government agent who did not provide enough warnings about the road hazard that caused the accident
- The driver who is found to be responsible for the accident
Immunity For Government Employees And Agencies
There are certain situations where certain people cannot be held legally responsible for wrongful death. This means that you cannot sue them for wrongful death. People who are eligible for immunity vary from one state to another but Rhode Island waived sovereign immunity and that of its political subdivisions.
Damages Available In Wrongful Death Claim
You are entitled to three types of damages in a wrongful death claim.
1. Punitive Damages
These are damages awarded to punish the person responsible for the death especially if it was due to bad conduct.
2. Non-economic Damages
These damages usually have more value than economic damages even if they are less tangible. Examples of non-economical damages include:
- Loss of companionship, love and society from the deceased
- Loss of nurturing, training, advice, guidance, protection and care from the deceased
- Damages for the survivor’s suffering, pain and mental anguish.
3. Economic Damages
These are financial contributions that the deceased would have made to the survivor’s had he/she not died. They include:
- Loss of inheritance because of the deceased untimely death
- Loss of the victim’s expected wages or salary
- Funeral and medical expenses tied to the death
- Loss of benefits such as medical coverage or pension
Statute Of Limitations For A Wrongful Death Claim
Every state has a statute of limitations for filing wrongful death claims. This means that you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit within a certain period, failure to which you might be barred by the court from suing the person responsible. In most states, however, you have to file a lawsuit within two years from the date of discovery of the harm.
Getting Help From A Wrongful Death Lawyer
You don’t have to suffer alone if someone you cared about passed away because of someone else’s negligence. You should consider hiring a wrongful death claim lawyer who can evaluate your case and determine how they can help you.
Our expert Rhode Island and Massachusetts wrongful death lawyers will help you get through this difficult time. We will ensure that as a survivor you are aware of your rights and that you can bring justice to those who are responsible for your loved ones death.
To get in touch with one of our lawyers, call (0800) 200-7752 or fill out our contact form today.