When a loved one dies due to the carelessness or negligent behavior of another party, family members are allowed to pursue damages from the liable party through a wrongful death claim. Essentially, this is a personal injury case; however, because the deceased can’t file the claim, the family must do it for them. Usually, this claimed is filed by the personal representative named in the deceased’s will and is often a surviving spouse, parent, or an adult child.
In Rhode Island, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim is three years from the date of the death, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible in order to stay within the time restrictions for filing a claim and to determine if you have a right to file on the deceased’s behalf.
Responsibilities of a Personal Representative
An important aspect of any wrongful death case is proving that negligence contributed to the cause of death. When the deceased’s personal representative files the claim, he must be able to show the following:
- The death of the family member was the direct result of the liable party’s negligence, and the death would not have occurred if it was not for the liable party’s actions
- That they are legally entitled to bringing forth a claim on the deceased’s behalf as a personal representative
- Damages such as financial loss have resulted due to the death of their loved one
The responsibilities of personal representative may include:
- Meeting with and deciding on an attorney to use for the case
- Discussing and agreeing on a fair settlement amount for the claim
- Being active throughout the case by completing necessary paperwork and giving statements related to the life and death of the deceased
- Going to trial, if needed
Recovering Damages From a Wrongful Death
There are many reasons that a personal representative may want to bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit after a loved one has suffered a fatal injury. Some reasons are:
Holding the negligent party liable can help prevent a similar incident from happening in the future and give you and family members closure.
Losing a loved one can come with a financial burden. There may be expenses associated with the death that are now your responsibility. A wrongful death claim can help you recover damages and ease the burden of costs associated with the loss.
To determine a fair settlement amount for the case, there are different factors that will be considered. Under Rhode Island law, a wrongful death claim has a minimum recovery of $250,000, but damages can often be awarded in amounts over $250,000. Some damages that may be compensated for in a wrongful death claim are:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of future wages and income earnings, taking into account the amount of money that the deceased would have earned during their lifetime
- Pain and suffering of the deceased at the time of their death and the impact the death has on the living family members
- Loss of companionship and care
- Property damage
- Punitive damages
To determine who is liable in the case, you will need to prove that the accident that led to the death of your family member could have been prevented, and the responsible party failed to protect your loved one by taking appropriate actions. A wrongful death can be the result of the following:
- Automobile accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Product liability
- Medical malpractice
- Workplace accident
- Negligence at a daycare center or nursing home
- Slip and fall
In addition, wrongful death claims can be filed against an individual, company, government agency, hospital, employer, or even sports organizations.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you want to file a claim for the wrongful death of a loved one, speak to an experienced attorney to determine if you have a case. When choosing an attorney, look for someone who has experience in personal injury cases, specifically in wrongful deaths. An attorney can help with your case by:
- Building a strong case against the liable party by investigating and gathering necessary evidence such as photos of the scene, medical and autopsy reports, testimony from witnesses, and the death certificate that shows the cause and manner of death
- Determining what the case is worth and if you have a right to bring forth a claim as a personal representative
- Handling all negotiations between parties and insurance companies
- Filing paperwork and adhering to deadlines as required by the state
- Representing you at trial if a settlement cannot be reached
- Protecting your interests and rights in the case
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.
- Learn the Damages You Can Recover in a Wrongful Death Case
- Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
- Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations