Like all states, Massachusetts has its own set of laws and statutes governing how wrongful death lawsuits are handled. These suits are designed to compensate family members when they lose a loved one due to the negligence, irresponsibility, carelessness, or deliberate actions of another person or party.
Collecting on a wrongful death case can be tricky, and only specific people can file the suit. In addition, there’s a specific time frame under which the suit must be filed. Understanding how these things work can avoid critical mistakes. Discover the information you’ll need on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Massachusetts, and how the right wrongful death lawyer can help.
Wrongful Death in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, to file a wrongful death suit, the defendant may only be held liable if the death was caused by negligence, wanton or reckless acts, or a breach of warranty. Generally speaking, if the death occurred due to any circumstances that would normally allow a personal injury case, a wrongful death suit may be filed. This also means that such cases proceed in a similar fashion.
In this state, you may not file a suit against an employer if an employee dies on the job, a railroad if a deceased person is killed near (or on) train tracks, or a streetcar company if the deceased was killed on or near the tracks, and also not at a road or sidewalk crossing.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Under Massachusetts law, only the executor of the estate, or another administrator of the estate, may file a wrongful death claim. This is the person who is generally held responsible following the instructions in the will. Damages recovered from the suit are thus paid to the estate.
It’s important to understand that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed regardless of the process of any criminal charges. This civil suit is separate and distinct from a criminal case, and the progression of one does not affect the other in any way.
There is a range of damages you may recover from a wrongful death case. These include the value of the deceased’s potential earnings over the course of their life, the value of lost companionship, care, guidance, counsel, care, advice and comfort the deceased could have provided, and any reasonable expenses related to funeral and burial expenses. In some extreme cases, punitive damages may be avoided if the death was caused by willful, wanton, reckless or malicious actions or truly gross negligence.
Timeframe for Filing a Claim
Just like every other state, there’s a limit to when you can file your claim, called a statute of limitations. In Massachusetts, this statue requires any claim to be filed within three years of the decedent’s passing, or the date the executor should have known a case could be filed.
It’s crucial to file in a timely fashion to build an effective case, and this can require the help of an experienced and qualified Massachusetts wrongful death attorney. If you need help or more information about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Massachusetts, contact Jim Glaser Law today at 781-689-2277 or fill out our online form to request a free case evaluation.