If your family members are injured by the negligence of others, they may have a personal injury action against the responsible parties for the costs of their injuries. When an accident causes injuries so severe that they are fatal, however, surviving family members may have the right to bring a wrongful death claim against the negligent parties. Through a wrongful death action, a Boston wrongful death lawyer can seek compensation on your behalf for various losses related to the loss of your family member.
The attorneys and staff at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, know how traumatic and overwhelming the sudden death of a loved one can be. While you might not think initially to call an attorney, you should take steps to educate yourself about your legal rights. You can reach us by phone at 800-959-1444 to learn more about the legal representation and services that we provide our clients.
Defining Wrongful Death Under State Law
When negligence leads to the death of a loved one, surviving family members may have a claim for compensation according to the state’s wrongful death statute. Under G.L. c. 229, § 2, a wrongful death claim arises when individuals take any of the following actions:
- Negligently cause the death of others.
- Exhibits willful, wanton, or reckless behavior in causing the death of others, which could have been the basis for a personal injury suit had the victims lived.
- Operate a common carrier negligently so as to cause the death of a passenger
- Operate a common carrier in a willful, wanton, or reckless manner so as to cause the death of others, which could have been the basis for a personal injury suit had the victims lived.
- Take responsibility for a breach of warranty that leads to the death of others.
Essentially, if individuals are involved in a fatal accident in which they would have had personal injury claims against others had they survived their injuries, their surviving immediate family members may have a valid wrongful death claim.
A Boston wrongful death lawyer can assess the circumstances that led to the death of your loved one and determine whether you have a valid wrongful death claim.
For a free legal consultation with a wrongful death lawyer serving Boston, call 800-593-3443
Parties to Wrongful Death Claims
The only parties who are entitled to bring wrongful death claims are the executors or administrators of the estate of the deceased person. Typically, the will of the deceased person names the executor or administrator of the estate. If the person dies without a will, then the surviving family members usually agree upon a family member or attorney to handle the estate. Once the probate court formally appoints one or more persons as the executors, that person or persons can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of surviving family members.
The executors or administrators of the estate of the deceased bring wrongful death claims on behalf of selected family members, as listed in G.L. c. 229, § 1. In other words, any award of damages from the wrongful death suit goes to immediate family members, as follows:
- If the deceased had no children, the award goes to the surviving spouse.
- If the deceased is survived by a spouse and one child, or any child or children of a deceased child, the award goes one-half to the surviving spouse and one-half to the child, or if deceased, to his or her child or children.
- If the deceased is survived by a spouse and more than one child, or any child or children of deceased children, the award goes one-third to the surviving spouse and two-thirds to the children and if one or more children are deceased, to their child or children.
- If the deceased leaves no surviving spouse, the award goes to the next of kin of the deceased, which in most cases would be children or parents, if the deceased had no children.
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Damages in Wrongful Death Claims
The state’s wrongful death statute lists several different forms of damages that might be available through a wrongful death claim. For instance, surviving family members can claim the reasonable monetary value of the loss of their deceased loved one, including compensation for expected income, services, guidance, protection, companionship, and advice. Reasonable burial and funeral expenses also are typically available in a wrongful death claim.
Time Limits for Wrongful Death Claims
The state’s wrongful death statute also places a time limit on the filing of a wrongful death claim. The executors or administrators of the estate of the deceased person typically must file the wrongful death suit within three years of the date of death. Alternatively, the executors must file a wrongful death claim within three years of the date on which they knew, or reasonably should have known, of the facts supporting the wrongful death claim.
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Learn More About Whether You Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim
Deaths of an immediate family member are likely to be highly traumatic for you and your family. When negligent or reckless behavior causes you to lose your loved one, a Boston wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you hold the responsible parties liable for their behavior. You also may wish to seek the compensation that your family may need during this challenging time in your life.
Ben Crump Law, PLLC, handles wrongful death claims at no cost to you upfront. You pay legal fees only if you receive an award from your claim. Reach out to our office at 800-959-1444 today, and explore your available options for legal recourse.