Losing a loved one can be devastating, especially when the death could have been avoided. There is a lot of emotional pain you suffer when someone dear to you passes, and it is difficult to recover from the ordeal. Wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of another person's negligence. Even though no amount of money could be enough to bring back someone you have lost, you are entitled to compensation for the wrongful death.
After filing a wrongful death claim, you can receive compensation to help you deal with the financial setbacks that follow the tragic loss. With the pain of losing a loved one, fighting for compensation can be difficult. Therefore, seeking the guidance of an attorney from the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm is wise. Our competent attorneys work diligently to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your claim.
Overview of Wrongful Death Claims in Nevada
Wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of the negligent activities of another person. Losing a loved one can be devastating, especially when the incident could have been avoided. A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit that the family of a deceased person recovers compensation for the losses arising from the negligent death. Nevada state law (NRS 41.085) states that when a wrongful or negligent act causes a person's death, the heirs and personal representatives of the deceased may each claim for damages they have suffered.
Nevada law has provisions on the individuals who can claim wrongful death benefits. You can seek different damages if your spouse, child, parent, or sibling has suffered death from another person's negligence. Wrongful death in Nevada could arise from the following situations:
- Automobile accidents that result from negligence
- Medical malpractice where a procedure was done wrong or something was omitted
- Workplace accidents and injuries
- Intentional criminal acts resulting from a malicious act or disregard to human life
- Use of defective or mislabeled products
Like the personal injury lawsuit, when you are claiming compensation in a wrongful death claim, you must prove the defendant's negligent acts. Most wrongful death claims are based on negligence. Negligence is the reckless disregard to human life or safety of others and has the following elements:
The Defendant Owed a Duty of Care to the Deceased
The duty of care is the responsibility that each individual has to ensure they do not harm others. Drivers on the road users must operate carefully to avoid accidents. Manufacturers of different products should ensure that their products are safe for the users. When claiming compensation for wrongful death, you need to show that the defendant owed your deceased loved one a duty of care.
Breach of Duty
A person breached the duty of care by acting in a way that puts others' safety and life in jeopardy. In most cases, negligence results in a breach of duty. When a person produces a defective product or acts recklessly on the road, they are considered to be breaching their duty of care. Before you recover damages for wrongful death, the means through which a duty of care was breached should be clear.
The Defendant's Actions Led to the Victim's Injury
When filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada, you should be prepared to prove that the defendant's actions caused injury and death of your loved one. The defendant's actions do not need to be the only contributing factor to the injuries. However, death should be a direct consequence of the breach of duty.
The Victim Succumbed to Death Due to the Defendant's Actions
You can only recover wrongful death damages if you lost a loved one out of the defendant's negligence.
Some of the potential defendants in a Nevada wrongful death may include:
- A doctor who causes the death of a patient after administering wrong medications or dosage
- A driver who killed another road user while driving under alcohol influence
- Someone who intentionally shot and killed someone else
- A property owner who failed to maintain safe conditions and caused the death of an occupant
- A government agency that did not provide adequate warnings on dangerous road conditions
Types of Damages Available for Wrongful Death Claims
If your loved one has died as a result of recklessness or negligence of another person, you can pursue compensation benefits by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. After a successful claim, you can recover compensation for the loss that you suffered from the death of your loved one. There are three categories of wrongful death benefits in a Nevada wrongful death lawsuit.
Economic damages are financial contributions or costs associated with the deceased. Also, the contribution that the deceased would have made to the family could be refunded. Economic damages are usually easy to quantify since the value is in financial terms. Some of the damages calculated as economical in Nevada include:
Medical Expenses resulting from the Deceased's Final Injury
In most cases, wrongful death results from injuries such as car accidents or medical malpractice. Compensation for medical expenses is used to cover all the costs of treatment that the deceased used before their demise. Sometimes you incur medical expenses even when your loved one only receives emergency medical care. This is because the medical bills will start to accumulate when the ambulance picks one up.
Some of the medical costs that are accounted for during compensation in a wrongful death claim are hospitalization, doctors' visits, surgical procedures, medications and rehabilitation. In most cases, the liable parties will not be quick to accept responsibility for their actions. Therefore, you will need to cover these medical bills out of pocket or through the loved ones' medical insurance. Alternatively, you can ask the doctor to wait until you receive a settlement.
To receive maximum compensation for the medical bills you incurred, you will be required to show proof of the medical costs. This is done by presenting the medical reports and bills that your loved one incurred before the demise. Seeking compensation for the medical costs of a deceased person could be complicated. Therefore, guidance from a personal injury attorney is crucial.
Reasonable Burial and Funeral Expenses and Out of Pocket Expenses
Out of pocket costs are incurred as a direct result of a loved one's death. This will include funeral costs and burial expenses. Burials and funerals are often expensive and can put a toll on the family's financial life. Fortunately, if your loved one suffered a wrongful death, you can recover compensation for these costs. Burial and funeral costs are related to the preparation of the burial services, which include:
- Obtaining burial permits and a death certificate
- Transferring the deceased to a funeral home
- Planning the funeral ceremony
- Preparation and viewing of the body before burial
- Payment for transporting the body to the cemetery
- Purchase of the cemetery plot, headstones and faults
When you seek compensation for burial and funeral expenses, evidence for these costs should be kept safely for use in the claim.
Property Damage Incurred in the Events that Caused the Death
With the different ways in which a wrongful death could occur, personal property could be destroyed in the process. Sometimes, a person destroys a house to kill another person, or a car is damaged during a negligent accident. In such cases, you can sue for compensation for the property damage in the events that led to your loved one's death.
Loss of wages and Future Income
If your deceased loved one was the primary provider in the family, you could recover damages for lost income. Lost income would be the earnings the deceased would have earned if they were alive according to their expectancy level. Due to the significant economic changes, it could be difficult to calculate lost income for a deceased person. However, the following factors are considered when determining the damages you recover:
- Age of the deceased. If the deceased is older, their earning potential may be reduced; thus, the benefits will be less as compared to a young person.
- The state of Health before Death. Pre Existing medical conditions help in determining the life expectancy of an individual and their ability to earn income.
- Earning capacity of the deceased before death. The more your deceased loved one earned before death, the more compensation you may receive for lost income in a Nevada wrongful death claim.
- Deceased's level of education and training is considered. A more educated person may have prospects of career advancement and earning more income. Therefore, the level of education of your deceased loved one may be considered when awarding damages for lost income.
Sometimes calculating the value of lost income may require input from financial experts to estimate the expected earnings and convert them into a dollar value. These experts can be called upon during the lawsuit trial. Even when your loved one was unemployed, you can recover compensation for the family's services. These services may include housekeeping and childcare. By seeking compensation for these losses, you can be able to pay for the services.
Loss of Benefits to Heirs
You will likely lose benefits such as social security, pension plans, and healthcare after your loved one. This will be the case, especially when the deceased was a working adult. In a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada, you can claim compensation for losing these benefits.
Non-economic damages compensate you for the non-quantifiable effects of death on the family of the deceased. The calculation of non-economic benefits is based on the relationship between the claimant and the deceased. In Nevada, on-economic benefits may include:
Loss of Companionship care and affection from the Deceased Person
Loss of consortium is a loss of love affection and sexual relations you could have gotten from your deceased spouse. Proving the loss of consortium could be difficult and uncomfortable. This is because you may need to disclose intimate details of the relationship between you and the deceased. However, to recover these benefits, you must prove that you were legally married or were a domestic partner of the deceased.
Loss of Parental Care
When awarding compensation for wrongful death to minors in Nevada, benefits for the loss of parental guidance and care may be awarded. However, these benefits are only available for the children of the deceased below the age of twenty-five. If there are other children out of wedlock that the deceased was supporting, they could also receive the benefits.
Pain and Suffering
Losing a loved one can be very traumatizing. Even though there is no specific amount of money that helps you recover from the pain and suffering of the loss, you are still entitled to compensation. If you are a parent who has lost a minor child, you can compensate for the emotional pain. If your spouse dies in a situation resulting from recklessness, you can recover damages for the mental pain you have suffered from the injury to the death of your loved one.
The calculation for pain and suffering is often dependent on the circumstances that led to the death. A person who witnessed the death of their loved one may suffer more psychological pain and recover more damages.
Quantifying the amount of non-economic damages that you have suffered from re wrongful death of your loved one is difficult. Therefore, compensation is decedent on the jury's impression on the value of support, guidance and care the deceased provided. Guidance from a competent personal injury attorney is crucial when seeking such compensation.
In a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada, economic and non-economic damages are awarded to compensate for the losses resulting from your loved one's death. However, in extreme cases, punitive damages could be awarded. Punitive damages are extra funds paid by the defendant if they acted in extreme reckless or malicious intent. These damages are aimed at punishing the wrongful acts of the defendant and discouraging them from taking similar actions in the future. When determining the value of these damages, the presence of negligence in the situation is considered.
Allocation of Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim in Nevada
With all the categories of damages available to the family of a deceased person, you may be wondering how the settlement is divided among different claimants. In most cases, the division of these benefits is determined by the jury. However, these factors may be considered:
- The presence of minor children or dependents of the deceased helps determine the allocation of benefits. The court often protects minors when it comes to such civil battles. Therefore, when a minor is involved, the court will appoint a guardian who ensures the settlement is divided with the minor's best interests.
- The relationship between the claimants and the deceased is significant. Several individuals could be allowed to recover different damages in a wrongful death claim. This will include the children, dependents, spouse, parents or siblings of the deceased. The relationship and role that the deceased played in your life is a significant factor used to determine the commendation you will receive.
- Whether or not the adult survivors can amicably settle the matter among themselves. When the claimants are all adults, the court may leave it upon them to divide the settlement. This could be done by doing a written agreement to keep it official. If you cannot agree with yourself, you can hire an attorney who will work together with you.
Frequently Asked Questions on Damages Available for a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is similar to the personal injury claim, where negligence must be proven before you get compensation. The difference between the two is that the victim is not around to bring the claim to court for the wrongful death. The times following a wrongful death of your loved one can be financially difficult and emotionally draining. Therefore, you need to have some legal guidance. The following are some of the frequently asked questions about wrongful death compensation benefits in Nevada:
Can a sibling file for compensation in a wrongful death claim in Nevada?
Several factors affect the rights of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Before a sibling can recover wrongful death damages, the relationship between the claimant and the deceased need to be established. Also, the heirs of the deceased will be identified before determining the individuals who claim compensation. If the deceased was married and had children, a sibling may not be able to bring on a claim. Guidance from an attorney when you are facing such a situation will be crucial.
How much can I recover from a wrongful death lawsuit?
Nevada operates on comparative negligence when it comes to compensation for personal injury or wrongful death. As a result, the amount you receive for your loved one's wrongful death will be equal to the percentage of fault for other involved parties.
What steps should I take in a wrongful death lawsuit
Many things can be involved in a wrongful death claim. A full investigation must be done to establish negligence and liability for your loved one's wrongful death. Also, the damages and suffering that the deceased underwent before their demise is considered. You will need a competent attorney to help you analyze your wrongful death claim to ensure it is legitimate before you bring it to court. Once the case is evaluated, the procedures that follow are informing the insurance companies of their liability, collecting relevant medical evidence and preparing a lawsuit.
How long does it take to settle a wrongful death claim?
Although some wrongful death cases could resolve within a matter of months, the lawsuit could take up to four years. Even when the case doesn't go to trial, settling, ay take quite some time. Your attorney will need time to do their research to ensure you recover the compensation you deserve. Also, the insurance providers of the liable party will need time to find their evidence.
What is the statute of limitation for a wrongful death claim in Nevada?
Every state sets time limits within which you can file a wrongful death claim after your loved one's demise. In Nevada, a wrongful death claim should be filed within two years of the date of misconduct that resulted in death. After the two years have elapsed, your claim may not be accepted.
How is wrongful death damage calculated?
No amount of money can compensate you for the pain of losing a loved one through negligence. In Nevada, there is no specific formula for calculating wrongful death. However, when determining the amount of compensation you deserve, the jury will consider factors such as the earning capacity of the deceased, their age, and their health before the death among others.
Does motor vehicle insurance cover wrongful death?
Yes. If your loved one dies in a car accident, the negligent party's vehicle insurance could compensate you for the wrongful death. However, you will be required to successfully prove that the driver of that vehicle was careless or negligent in a manner that led to your loved one's death. When dealing with insurance adjusters after a wrongful death, it's crucial to have competent legal guidance.
Find a Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
A wrongful death claim allows you to recover compensation when your loved one dies from the intentional, negligent or reckless behavior of another person. There are several ways a wrongful death can occur, including medical malpractices, defective products or even traffic accidents.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit could be a complicated process to navigate. Therefore, it is crucial to seek the guidance of a competent personal injury attorney. At the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we will provide you with the relevant guidance and representation you need for the best outcome for your case. If you are in Las Vegas, Nevada, contact us today at 702-996-1224 to discuss more details of your claim.