The loss of a loved one is never easy, especially when that person’s death is not natural. If the loss is due to medical malpractice or someone’s else negligence, it can add a significant amount of grief and confusion to the family members left behind.
Like most states, Nevada has its own set of laws regarding wrongful death claims. Contact a Las Vegas personal injury attorney today to find out if compensation is warranted in your case and how you can protect your legal rights.
What Is Wrongful Death?
In Nevada, wrongful death refers to a situation where one person’s negligence causes the death of another person (§ 41.085). Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe a negligent act that results in someone’s death, although it is commonly used to refer to any loss of life due to a negligent accident or violent crime.
Some examples of wrongful death cases include:
- A drunk driver kills someone while driving under the influence (DUI)
- A store employee causes a fatal accident when they fail to put up a “Wet Floor” sign after mopping
- A building inspector fails to properly inspect an apartment complex, causing the structure to collapse during an earthquake
- A driver makes a left turn into oncoming traffic and hits another vehicle head-on
Common Reasons for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim and is filed in court by a personal representative. However, a wrongful death claim is only filed when an individual dies due to negligence.
Some common reasons for a wrongful death claim include:
#1. Motor Vehicle Accidents
When someone dies in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence (such as drunk driving), their family members may be eligible for compensation through a wrongful death claim.
Examples of negligence in a motor vehicle accident include:
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving (e.g., texting)
- Defective brakes or tires
- Poorly maintained roads
#2. Medical Malpractice
If a doctor or other medical professional fails to provide adequate care and causes a patient’s death, their family members may be able to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim.
#3. Premises Liability
If someone dies on property owned by another party due to unsafe conditions, the owner may have a legal obligation to compensate surviving family members for their loss of income, companionship, and more.
Assault is an intentional act where one person unlawfully uses physical force against another person, creating an apprehension that the victim will suffer immediate bodily harm or offensive contact (NRS 200.471).
An assault that leads to death carries criminal penalties (including fines and jail time) as well as liability for compensation.
#5. Workplace Accidents
In Nevada, family members can sue an employer for wrongful death if their relative died as a result of their employment. This includes construction workers, factory workers, restaurant workers, and other employees who suffer injuries and die on the job.
#6. Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcyclists are more likely than other motorists to be involved in fatal crashes. These accidents may occur when other drivers fail to yield the right-of-way or fail to see motorcyclists on the road, among other negligent behaviors.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims in Nevada may be filed by anyone who was financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death.
Heirs and personal representatives can file a wrongful death claim against the responsible party or parties. An “heir” is anyone who will inherit from the decedent if they do not have an estate plan established. Heirs typically include the decedent’s spouse/domestic partner, children, parents, or siblings. Nevada’s laws of intestate succession (NRS 134.030-NRS 134.210) govern which individuals can legally file a wrongful death suit.
Compensation in Wrongful Death Claims
A family member filing a wrongful death claim, such as a surviving spouse, can seek various types of compensation. These may include:
#1. Sorrow and Grief
Grieving families want closure on their loved one’s passing and justice for their loss. They deserve compensation for their emotional suffering after losing a loved one through no fault of their own.
#2. Loss of Support
When someone dies, they often leave behind financial obligations and unpaid debts. In many cases, these obligations cannot be met without help from family members who were dependent on the deceased person’s income or savings prior to death. If that person dies unexpectedly due to someone else’s reckless behavior, family members can file a claim for loss of support.
#3. Loss of Companionship or Consortium
This type of compensation covers the costs associated with losing time spent with loved ones. For example, if you lost your spouse and now have to pay for childcare, this expense may be covered by loss of companionship damages.
#4. Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages can include the mental anguish caused by witnessing an accident or losing a beloved spouse, parent, or child.
#5. Financial Compensation
If the decedent’s estate files the wrongful death claim, they may be able to recover compensation for:
- Final medical expenses
- Funeral and burial or cremation expenses
- Punitive damages for any gross negligence that led to the decedent’s death
The amount awarded for a wrongful death claim depends on many factors, including:
- The type of case and its complexity
- The extent of damages suffered by surviving family members
- The earning capacity of the deceased person
- The degree of financial impact on surviving family members from losing their income
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims
Every state has strict limitations on how much time family members or estates have to file a wrongful death claim. In Nevada, the statute of limitations is two years, meaning the claim must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death.
If the claim is not filed by that time, the defendant can file a motion to dismiss and the court will most likely grant their request. A Las Vegas personal injury attorney can help ensure that your claim is filed on time and all legal deadlines are met.
More Key Facts about Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death cases are often very time-consuming and expensive. First, your Nevada personal injury or wrongful death attorney will need to determine how much insurance coverage (if any) is available to cover damages. In some wrongful death claims, there may be multiple claimants, each with separate counsel – especially if the decedent has a large family.
If there is limited liability coverage or limited assets, your lawyer may need to pursue the individual or entity in litigation to obtain a judgment against their assets.
It is important to understand that criminal charges have nothing to do with civil actions in a wrongful death claim. A person can still be found innocent in a criminal court but held liable in civil court, and vice versa.
How a Las Vegas Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
Your attorney will play a crucial role when pursuing your wrongful death claim. If you hire a Las Vegas wrongful death attorney from our team, we assist you by:
#1. Filing Your Claim
Your lawyer will ensure that all legal requirements are met before filing a wrongful death claim. This includes gathering all necessary documents, filing them with the court, and requesting discovery from opposing counsel.
#2. Negotiating a Settlement
Legal action is not always necessary to receive compensation for wrongful death damages. In many cases, our Las Vegas wrongful death lawyers are able to successfully negotiate with insurance companies, so clients receive a fair settlement without going through any court proceedings.
#3. Filing a Lawsuit if Needed
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit will not be necessary if the party responsible for your loved one’s death has already settled out of court or through their insurance company. If this is not the case, you still can fight for compensation for wrongful death. Hiring an experienced attorney is essential so they can file a lawsuit in court on your behalf.
#4. Fighting for Your Legal Rights
In addition to gathering evidence and offering guidance to support your claim, a Nevada personal injury attorney can represent you in court if negotiations do not work out favorably and the case must go to trial.
#5. Representing You Every Step of the Way
Your lawyer will represent you at every step of the process, both in and out of court. They can also prepare all the necessary documents for your case and negotiate with opposing counsel to make the litigation process as smooth as possible.
Do Not Wait Too Long to File
There is no guaranteed time period for receiving your damages, although if you wait longer to file, it will take longer to get compensation as well. You can file a wrongful death claim immediately after your loved one passes away.
The sooner you file, the sooner you can get damages. Therefore, start working on your case as soon as possible. Our personal injury lawyers can help file your claim on time based on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death.
Speak with a Las Vegas Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, you may have a valid wrongful death claim. However, wrongful death claims in Nevada are very challenging to navigate on your own. A wrongful death lawyer from our team can help you navigate the claim process and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Contact the attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group today and schedule a free consultation by filling out our online form.