Losing a loved one is always difficult, but losing them suddenly as a result of an accident is devastating. It can be especially difficult to deal with if you know that the accident was someone else’s fault. You may experience anger, blame, and frustration. The person at fault can be held responsible to some degree through a wrongful death lawsuit.
In this type of lawsuit, the person at fault must pay money damages to the family of a wrongful death victim. Although you may not be thinking of money immediately after the death of your loved one, things like medical expenses, funeral expenses, and loss of income can take a serious toll on your family. Understanding Massachusetts wrongful death law to some degree will help you determine whether you may have a legal claim for damages based on the loss of your loved one.
What is Wrongful Death in Massachusetts?
Wrongful death is a legal claim where you assert that your loved one was killed due to the fault of another person. This is usually called negligence—where a person or entity failed to act with reasonable care and that failure resulted in the death of your loved one. Generally, if your loved one would have been able to file a personal injury case if they were alive, then you may be able to file a wrongful death suit on their behalf.
Who Files a Wrongful Death Claim?
The executor or administer of the deceased’s estate can file the wrongful death claim. If the person had a will, then the named executor would be the one to assert the claim. If, however, your loved one died without a will, then the court may appoint an administrator to deal with their estate. Usually this person is a family member, but that is not always the case. This administrator can also file a wrongful death suit in Massachusetts as well.
When Must We File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Massachusetts, you must file a wrongful death claim within three years of the death of your loved one. If you fail to file within this time frame, then your claim is forever barred, with very few exceptions. This time limit may be extended in some circumstances if the executor or administrator did not realize that a wrongful death claim was available.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Suit?
Expenses add up quickly after the death of a loved one. Damages in a wrongful death suit can help with these expenses. You may be able to recover:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses
- Lost expected income
- Loss of companionship, comfort, care, and advice that your loved one would have provided to his or her family members
Punitive damages are also available in Massachusetts in some very serious cases. Punitive damages are designed to punish wrongdoers instead of just compensating the victims. Usually, the wrongdoer would have to be grossly careless, or added deliberately to obtain these damages.
How Do I Know if I Have a Wrongful Death Claim?
Generally, if someone else caused your loved one’s death, you likely have a wrongful death claim. The best way to find out for sure is to arrange a free consultation with Jim Glaser Law. In this appointment, an experienced wrongful death attorney will evaluate the facts of the case and determine if filing a wrongful death claim is the right option for you. Call 781-689-2277 to schedule an appointment.