If someone you love died as a result of negligence, you may be able to get justice and compensation through a wrongful death claim. However, the law only allows certain parties to file this type of lawsuit and determines who benefits from the damages.
Who Can File and Benefit From a Wrongful Death Claim?
Each state creates its own laws for civil wrongful death cases, including which people can legally file a claim. In Rhode Island, the executor of the deceased person's estate must bring the wrongful death claim to court. If the deceased person did not name an executor, certain surviving family members may file the wrongful death claim instead.
While it is the executor’s duty to bring the wrongful death claim to court, any damages will be awarded to the deceased’s surviving family members. Under Rhode Island law, relatives may benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit in a specific order of preference:
Spouse and children.
If the deceased person was married with children, half of the damages will be awarded to the surviving spouse, and the other half will go to the children.
If the deceased person was married without children, all of the damages will be awarded to the surviving spouse.
Parents or grandparents.
If the deceased person was not married and had no children, the parents or grandparents may claim the damages. However, any parent who is six months or more behind in paying child support is not eligible to recover damages in a wrongful death suit for a child.
Other legal heirs.
If the deceased person was not married, had no children, and the parents and grandparents are not living, the grandchildren or other surviving next of kin may make a claim.
Although Rhode Island law gives surviving family members three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit, the executor of the estate has just six months to bring a wrongful death claim. These time limits can pass quickly, so it is vital to have an experienced injury attorney at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum advise you as soon as possible.
Has Your Loved One Died To The Negligence Of Others?
If your loved one died to due the negligence of others you need to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help families in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.