The emotionally devastating announcement of the sudden and unexpected death of a family member or friend presents a void that words cannot fill. We understand families and friends need time to digest and mourn their loss. Simple everyday tasks or common events become difficult and confusing. As part of your healing process, surround yourself with loved ones. Make an effort to eat and sleep, which are monumental tasks, but important to those left behind.
One of the natural first thoughts a family has is “what happened?” This is a critical question from a legal standpoint and requires an independent investigation. We gather all of the facts, talk to witnesses, co-workers or others surrounding the unfortunate event. An exploration and methodical analysis by our team of legal and analytical experts in the immediate stages is of the highest importance to determine fault and finding facts to hold the negligent party responsible. A proper inquiry sets the foundation for financial compensation and justice.
A wrongful death claim is not a criminal charge brought by the state to find someone guilty for causing the death. Wrongful death alleges negligence in causing the death, but it does not allege an intent to kill or harm the person. When a person is killed intentionally, the state prosecutes the case, and guilt or innocence is decided in criminal court.
Wrongful death claims, however, take place in civil court rather than criminal court. The state does not prosecute—people who have suffered harm because of the death file their claims against the responsible parties. In Nevada, heirs of the deceased and personal representatives of the estate can bring a civil claim for damages resulting from the death, both economic and non-economic.
Eligible individuals may file a wrongful death claim even if a criminal trial is proceeding or expected to proceed. Criminal and civil cases are completely separate. You can also bring a wrongful death claim if there is no criminal charge or trial.
If your loved one has died and you believe another party was responsible, talk to an experienced Las Vegas wrongful death attorney at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers today. Wrongful death is complex. We can explain Nevada law concerning it, advise you on your case, and fight to see that justice is done.
You may feel great emotional pain and experience financial duress due to the loss. We have helped families recover just compensation for both, including $2.9 million in damages in a wrongful death case, $425,000 for a wrongful death accident in a parking lot, and $300,000 in a case with policy limits. That money didn’t bring our clients’ loved ones back, but it gave them the resources to seek help in overcoming their emotional losses and recovering their financial losses.
Under Nevada law, a deceased individual’s heirs and personal representatives can bring a claim for wrongful death. The law defines “heir” as a person who would be entitled to the deceased person’s property under state law if the decedent died intestate (that is, without a will). In Nevada, that could be the spouse, domestic partner, parents, children, and siblings of the deceased person. Heirs are discussed more here.
A family relationship is not necessarily sufficient, under the law. For example, parents may not be able to bring wrongful death claims if their child has a spouse or children.
Often, families feel overwhelmed navigating the appointment of a personal representative or guardian of the decedent’s estate. We will assist and file the appropriate documents with the courts to establish an estate, which has the right to collect funeral costs and medical expenses. Furthermore, an estate should be established to obtain important medical records and autopsy reports if available. In certain circumstances we will have an independent autopsy performed.
Specifically, who can bring such claims is covered under NRS 134 or “succession” statutes. This outlines who is a legal heir and had rights to bring a lawsuit. Family relationship may not be enough, and each family member has vested rights. For example, Under NRS 134 parents may lose claims if the deceased child is married or has children. Therefore, it is important to recognize who has legal rights to pursue the wrongful death claims under NRS 134 as a first step in the wrongful death analysis.
The law is complicated, so consult an attorney to determine your eligibility to file such a claim.
If an estate brings a wrongful death claim, it can recover damages for all medical expenses related to the death (for example, emergency responses, ambulance, any medical treatment before death). The estate may also recover damages for funeral or burial costs.
The heirs can receive a different set of damages. They can recover economic losses and prospective economic losses related to the deceased person’s lost wages, loss of financial support, and expectations of future earnings. The law recognizes that families are often dependent upon breadwinners for food, shelter, and other basic necessities of life. Future earnings take into account estimated earnings and life expectancy.
Heirs can also recover damages from multiple non-economic damages under Nevada law, including pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and sorrow and grief.
At times, heirs and estate representatives may be the same individuals. It is highly advisable to seek legal advice about whether or not you should set up an estate following the death of a loved one.
At Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC, we retain economic experts to help ascertain the full value of a family’s loss. In certain cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the negligent party or to deter the defendant from engaging in similar conduct that formed the basis of the lawsuit. NRS 41.085(5)(a) & (b) (see below) cover the rights of the estate to collect such damages.
If your family member or spouse was deprived of life as the result of an individual’s or company’s negligence, contact our firm. The experienced legal team at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC, can assist navigating the critical facts leading up to decedents passing, implore investigators and accident reconstruction engineers, and establish an estate. Our team of compassionate and highly qualified attorneys is prepared to assist your family through these difficult times. Call us today for a no obligation consultation wherein we will evaluate your claim and guide you with clarity through these difficult times.
Definition of Wrongful Death
The law has a specific definition of wrongful death. The death needs to have occurred as a result of the negligence or misconduct of a third party to qualify as wrongful. People and other entities, such as companies and government bodies, owe a duty of care to other people. Drivers, for example, must drive safely and obey laws. Companies must make sure the products they manufacture are safe. They must make sure their premises are safe. Government bodies must make sure they don’t cause harm to the public. If these entities don’t fulfill their duty of care, they may have legally breached their duty of care under the law.
There is also a “reasonable person” standard. If conditions, products, or premises are unsafe, or a reasonable person would believe that they are unsafe, the responsible parties must fix them as soon as possible. If they can’t fix the problem quickly, they must properly warn the public with signs. In other words, if a construction company knows that there are not enough safety harnesses for the workers it has hired to work at tall heights, they need to supply an appropriate number. Failure to do so breaches both the duty of care and reasonable person standards.
More specifically, in Nevada, a lawsuit may be filed for the loss of a loved one, family member or friend when the decedent passes away due to the negligent acts or misconduct by a third party. Any deviation by the responsible party to act as a reasonable prudent person may result in a wrongful death claim. To file a wrongful death claim, the wrongdoer does not have to have the intent to cause death, but rather has to have acted negligently. A wrongful death claim can be brought by the decedent’s heirs to hold those legally liable responsible for the death.
Under Nevada law, wrongful death is separate statutory claim that can be pled in conjunction with negligence, recklessness, or another theory of liability. This is codified in NRS 41.085.
(a) Any special damages, such as medical expenses, which the decedent incurred or sustained before the decedent’s death, and funeral expenses; and
(b) Any penalties, including, but not limited to, exemplary or punitive damages, that the decedent would have recovered if the decedent had lived, but do not include damages for pain, suffering or disfigurement of the decedent. The proceeds of any judgment for damages awarded under this subsection are liable for the debts of the decedent unless exempted by law.
(Added to NRS by 1979, 458; A 1995, 2667; 1999, 1354)
Wrongful death can occur as a result of accidents, unsafe conditions, improper training, carelessness, failure to follow established safety protocols, and more.
The Las Vegas wrongful death attorneys at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC, have a proven history of successfully pursuing various types of wrongful death claims. The list below is an example of the scenarios in which we have experience working on behalf of families:
Death is tragic, and a death that occurs as a result of someone else’s negligence compounds the tragedy.
Wrongful death cases are not only devastating to survivors, but also they are complicated. An experienced wrongful death attorney can give advice about the case, including who has the right to bring a claim, what the claim can include, and whether to set up an estate. The experienced attorneys at Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers have offices in Las Vegas and deep roots in the community.
Contact us today online or at (702) 382-9797. Our initial consultation is always complementary.