Wrongful Death FAQs
The untimely death of a loved one is nothing short of difficult in any situation. When death is caused by the negligence of another, victims have the right to pursue legal actions that will hold responsible parties accountable for their carelessness. At Shook & Stone, we have 85 years of combined experience and have used our compassionate approach and aggressive legal strategies to help families and loved ones recover the damages they suffered.
Wrongful death happens much too frequently. Whether a preventable death was caused by a car accident or by medical malpractice, it is important that you know the facts and information that can help you understand the legal issues involved and how you can protect your rights. Our experienced and understanding attorneys have compiled some of the following frequently asked questions and their answers to help you begin learning about the steps you can take to ensure that justice is served and fair and full compensation is awarded.
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim is a legal action similar to the civil lawsuit brought forth by personal injury claims. This area of law was designed not only to hold negligent parties liable for their actions but also to ensure that victims and their families have the legal right to pursue compensation for their damages.
How do I know if I can file a wrongful death claim?
Any time a death that could have otherwise been prevented is caused by the negligence, carelessness, or failure to meet a reasonable standard of care, wrongful death claims can be filed. This means that car accidents, medical malpractice, and other accidents that occurred as a result of someone else's fault are grounds for wrongful death suits. Of course, situations will always vary according the unique circumstances involved. An experienced attorney from our firm can evaluate your case to determine if you have sufficient reason to file a wrongful death claim.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
According to the Nevada Revised Statutes §41.085, heirs and personal representatives can file wrongful death claims. As defined in the statutes, "heirs" are any persons who would be entitled to succeed to the separate property of the decedent if the decedent owns property greater than the sum of their debts. This can include people named in wills, immediate family members, or next of kin, depending on the situation.
Who will wrongful death suits be filed against?
Claims will be filed against the person who caused the death. In some cases, however, the negligent party may be deceased themselves, particularly in cases involving car accidents. When this is the case, suits can be filed against the wrongdoer's personal representatives. Actions may also be brought against an employer, business, or corporation responsible for the wrongdoer's actions, such as in premises liability cases.
What damages are recoverable?
In wrongful death suits, heirs and personal representatives are entitled to monetary compensation for their financial and emotional damages and for the physical damages of the decedent prior to his or her death.
- Financial damages will include any medical expenses incurred before the death of the decedent as well as any funeral costs. If the decedent contributed to the income of a family, relatives can also recover compensation for the loss of financial support. Courts will calculate the amount awarded by taking into consideration a decedent's income, age, and life expectancy just prior to death.
- Emotional damages will also be awarded. Perhaps the most important aspect of wrongful death cases, emotional damages are difficult to evaluate. The court will consider many factors when awarding non-economic compensation, such as the age and life expectancy of a victim and the role they played in the lives of their loved ones. Heirs and personal representatives will be awarded compensation for their grief or sorrow; loss of companionship, society, comfort, and consortium; and the pain and suffering of the decedent.
- Punitive damages may also be awarded in certain cases to further penalize defendants for gross acts of negligence. Whether or not punitive damages will be awarded in your case depends on the circumstances involved. Medical malpractice such as misdiagnoses and cases involving drunk driving accidents commonly award punitive damages.
Do I need an attorney?
You are not obligated or required to have legal representation when filing a claim. However, professionals unanimously agree that having qualified legal counsel is essential to ensuring that wrongful death cases reach a favorable outcome. Disputes made by defendants and their legal teams can be properly handled by an experienced lawyer from our firm, as well as all the technical legal issues and procedures. In cases that reach the trial phase, our aggressive attorneys can provide you with the tough litigation and resources needed to be successful.
Contact Shook & Stone for More Information
If you have any more questions or concerns about wrongful death claims or about how your personal situation may qualify and be affected, we strongly urge you to contact an understanding and knowledgeable attorney from our firm. We know that these are difficult times, and we always do our best to alleviate your legal worries by providing you with the information you need and by working hard on your behalf. Since 1997, we have recovered more than $100 million in compensation for our clients, so you can be confident that our firm knows how to win. If you would like to schedule a free case consultation or speak with a compassionate lawyer from our legal team, contact Shook & Stone today.