Death is an unfortunate, difficult, and unyielding element of the human experience. When the passing of a loved one is caused by another's negligence or wrongful act, feelings of grief can be greatly conflicted by frustration and anger.
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death is a claim against any person, business entity, or property owner who can be held liable for a person's death because of their negligence, carelessness, or other wrongful act. Similar to a personal injury claim, wrongful death actions are filed as a civil action, while criminal proceedings are a separate legal process.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
According to the Nevada Revised Statutes §41.085, heirs and personal representatives may pursue wrongful death claims. Depending on the circumstances involved, this can include certain immediate relatives or spouses.
How are wrongful death claims compensated?
When it can be determined beyond a reasonable doubt that the negligence or wrongful act of one person directly caused another person's death, the decedent's heirs and personal representatives may be awarded monetary compensation for the following:
- Grief and sorrow
- Loss of probable support
- Loss of companionship, society, comfort, and consortium
- Pain, suffering, or disfigurement of decedent
- Any medical expenses incurred before decedent's death
- Funeral expenses
- Any penalties or punitive damages, if applicable
How are the funeral costs determined?
As funeral costs can vary greatly depending on the location of the funeral, method of burial, etc. the recovery amount for the funeral costs are determined based on what is "reasonable." This seems like somewhat of a subjective standard, which is why it is important to factor in the deceased's Will and their funeral wishes (if they have indicated such).
What is "loss of consortium?"
In general, loss of consortium is a tort claim that involves the loss or deprivation of a familial relationship because of injuries or death caused by the defendant (tortfeasor). Loss of consortium damages are not the same as compensatory damages, and in some jurisdictions, individuals cannot recover loss of consortium after their loved one has passed away.
How are non-economic damages determined?
Emotional damages suffered by relatives and loved ones are nearly impossible to convert to dollar amounts. To determine damages, courts will consider many elements, including the decedents past contributions, their age and life expectancy at the time of death, their health before the accident, habits, occupation, past earnings and future earnings.
Are there limits to the compensation I can recover for my emotional loss?
The United States government has set caps on the amount of noneconomic damages that bereaved loved ones can recover. Noneconomic damage caps are a kind of tort reform that the government has put in place to eliminate excessive emotional damage awards that could potentially harm the economy. The government has not put caps on easily quantifiable (economic) damages, because exact amounts are fairly easy to determine so as to not be excessive.
How do you measure the life expectancy of the deceased?
This is a complex aspect to most wrongful death cases. This type of investigation would attempt to determine how long the deceased would have lived if it were not for the negligent or careless actions of the plaintiff. This life expectancy is hypothetical and may factor in things like the deceased's physical and mental health at their time of death.
How soon should I file a wrongful death claim?
While the immediate aftermath of a loved one's untimely death is not the most favorable time to become involved in legal actions, Nevada has a statute of limitations that requires wrongful death claims be filed no more than two years after the date of a decedent's death. When you suspect negligence played a role in the death of your loved one, contacting a compassionate and patient attorney from our firm can greatly strengthen your case and allow for immediate investigations and the preservation of evidence.
Fighting for Victims' Families
At Shook & Stone, we understand that death is not an easy experience in any form. When negligence and wrongful acts cause the untimely passing of a loved one however, you and your family deserve the justice and compensation that a wrongful death claim can provide. By working closely with you in a compassionate, supportive, and patient atmosphere, you can be comfortable discussing your case and be confident knowing that we will put our experience and legal knowledge to work when fighting on your behalf. With more than 85 years of combined experience and more than $100 million recovered for our clients, we know our client-focused philosophy gets results.