What Qualifies As a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- October 28, 2022 |
- Wrongful Death
Unintentional injury deaths are among the top five leading causes of death in the United States. Over 150,000 American families lose loved ones each year as a result of unintentional injuries caused by or due to the fault of another person or entity.
Moving on from the passing of a loved one is extremely difficult, but it’s especially tough when a loved one dies because of someone else’s fault. It is a sudden and tragic situation that can leave the surviving family bearing the overwhelming weight of leftover medical bills and the unexpected loss of emotional and financial support. The implications can be devastating on many levels.
You have a right to be furious when your loved one is taken away early due to someone’s negligence, such as a car accident. But anger won’t give your family the justice, compensation, and closure you deserve. That’s why many families in Springfield turn to Cava Law Firm’s wrongful death attorneys; they know that our wrongful death lawyers in Springfield will stand up for them and their deceased loved ones.
Massachusetts’ wrongful death laws are incredibly complex. Often, procedural traps may complicate a wrongful death lawsuit. For this reason, before you file a wrongful death suit, it’s vital that you understand Massachusetts’ wrongful death laws, how they will impact your lawsuit, and how a wrongful death attorney from Springfield can help.
What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Massachusetts?
Not all deaths lead to wrongful death lawsuits. So, what qualifies as a wrongful death lawsuit in Massachusetts?
Under Massachusetts General Laws Ann. ch. 229, a wrongful death suit may be filed when someone’s death is brought on by negligence (or failure to exercise reasonable care), breach of warranty, or “wanton” or reckless acts.
That said, Massachusetts law also outlines the different types of accidents that can lead to a wrongful death claim. These include:
- Car accidents;
- Product failures; and/or
- Medical errors.
However, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts limits the types of accidents that can lead to wrongful death claims. You do not have the legal backing to bring a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one died due to:
- Car accidents;
- Railroad accidents where the deceased was on or near the tracks;
- Work-related accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents.
A wrongful death suit might only be brought in instances where the deceased could have brought a personal injury claim if they had not died.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts law does not allow relatives of a deceased individual to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their own behalf or on behalf of the decedent.
Any wrongful death lawsuit in Massachusetts must be filed by the person legally appointed as the personal representative of the deceased’s estate. This is the individual who is in charge of fulfilling the requirements of the decedent’s will and otherwise handling other details of their estate, including filing a wrongful death claim and paying off their remaining debts.
The decedent may have already named this person in their will. In such a case, the personal representative is called the executrix or executor. In the absence of a will, the probate court will appoint one, and the personal representative, in this case, is called the administrator of the estate. The estate administrator will also have the right to file a wrongful death suit.
In many cases, the person appointed by a probate court as an estate administrator will be the deceased’s surviving spouse, adult children, or parents. Still, every case and family is different, so it’s best to speak with a Springfield wrongful death attorney to determine who is legally qualified to file a wrongful death lawsuit for the death of your loved one.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts has strict time limits for filing wrongful death lawsuits. Generally, a personal representative or administrator has three years from the death date, or three years from the date they learn of the factual basis of the cause of death, to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. This time limit is known as the “statute of limitations,” and failure to file your lawsuit within this time frame could mean losing the opportunity to get justice and compensation for your loved one’s untimely death.
It’s important to note that, depending on the defendant in your wrongful death lawsuit, the deadline for filing a lawsuit can be different — or even shorter — depending on the facts of your case and who was at-fault for the accident.
Since you have a limited window to file a wrongful death claim, it is best to seek legal representation from an experienced Springfield wrongful death claim attorney as soon as possible.
What Damages Are Awarded in Massachusetts Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
As you begin your Springfield wrongful death lawsuit process, it is vital that you are aware of the types of damages that you can pursue in your lawsuit. Under Massachusetts’ wrongful death statute, the family of a wrongful death victim may be able to claim and recover numerous kinds of damages. These include:
Economic damages are losses associated with the financial costs of the death itself and are based on a concrete monetary amount. Some typical financial losses include:
- Medical expenses related to the decedent’s fatal injuries
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost earning capacity of the deceased
Your family can be compensated for more than just monetary losses. Non-economic damages account for intangible damages and cannot be easily translated into dollar values. Recoverable non-economic damages in a Massachusetts wrongful death claim include:
- Pain and suffering: These damages are the physical and emotional consequences of the fatal injury endured by the deceased before death.
- Loss of companionship or consortium.
- Loss of parental guidance.
Suppose economic and non-economic damages are awarded in a wrongful death case in Springfield, MA. In that case, the estate will distribute the damages according to the deceased’s will or Massachusetts’ intestate laws in the absence of a will.
Punitive damages may be awarded in a Springfield wrongful death lawsuit. But these damages are not intended to compensate the plaintiff. Instead, punitive damages are designed to punish a negligent party for their willful, malicious, wanton, grossly negligent, or egregious actions that caused a wrongful death and discourage future bad behavior.
Generally, according to the Internal Revenue Service, compensatory damages are not taxable. However, because punitive damages are not compensatory damages, they are considered taxable and are subject to the debts, liabilities, and state and federal taxes of the decedent’s estate.
Please contact an experienced Springfield wrongful death attorney from Cava Law Firm to discuss damages relating to your case.
How Much Is the Average Wrongful Death Suit Worth in Massachusetts?
Calculating recoverable damages can be very complicated, especially when dealing with abstract concepts like loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and other non-economic damages. Many families find it hard to put a price on the life of a loved one. Unfortunately, you cannot undo the actions that led to your loved one’s death. The only thing you can do is pursue damages for their death to seek justice and closure in the hopes that your family can move on from this devastating loss.
Keep in mind that each case has its own unique facts and circumstances, and your family deserves to recover fair compensation for the untimely death of a loved one. Talk to a wrongful death attorney in Springfield to discuss your case’s potential damages and worth.
Wrongful Death? Find Out How Cava Law Firm Can Help
The death of a loved one, especially when caused by someone else’s negligence, can be a profoundly life-altering event. You should not have to spend the rest of your life wishing you had been able to get justice and closure. If you’ve lost someone you love and want to understand your options, don’t hesitate to call our Springfield wrongful death attorneys.
At Cava Law Firm, we have helped families secure significant compensation in car accident cases, motorcycle accident cases, truck accident cases, wrongful death cases, and other matters. Our legal team’s commitment extends to working tenaciously and providing sympathetic representation to families struggling with grief and in need of reliable legal advice about moving forward with a wrongful death lawsuit.
Why Choose Us? Benefits of Hiring Cava Law Firm
- Winning is NO accident! We genuinely care about the individuals and families we represent. Our Springfield wrongful death lawyers work diligently, often around the clock, to achieve top case results.
- We prepare each wrongful death case as if it will go to trial.
- We offer free, confidential, no-obligation consultations!
- Our founding partner, Christopher F. Cava, has been recognized as one of the top 4% of lawyers in Massachusetts for communication ability, value for service, responsiveness, and quality, and he received the Client Distinction Award by Martindale.com.
- We have the knowledge, experience, resources, skills, dedication, and tenacity you need when results matter the most.
Call us today at (413) 737-3430 or (413) 781-CAVA (2282) or contact us to learn what qualifies as a wrongful death lawsuit and how we can represent you in a Springfield wrongful death.