If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence or misconduct of others, you may have a wrongful death claim under Massachusetts law. Wrongful deaths may occur due to medical mistakes, motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and many other situations. In addition to the pain and grief that is inherent in the loss of a loved one, your family may be left with significant unanticipated expenses, including final medical bills, funeral expenses, and burial costs. If the deceased was the primary source of income for the family, additional financial pressures might exist as family members struggle to replace the loss in income.
If you believe that you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, you may wish to seek help from a skilled injury attorney. A compassionate Massachusetts wrongful death lawyer understands how difficult it can be when the unthinkable occurs and may be able to help you shoulder some of the burdens.
Who can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Massachusetts?
Deaths that occur due to the negligent, reckless, willful, or wanton acts of others may merit the filing of a wrongful death suit. In Massachusetts, the executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased is the proper party to bring a wrongful death action. Therefore, the assistance of a wrongful death attorney in Massachusetts is necessary to establish an estate before the ability to file a wrongful death claim.
Typically, the surviving spouse and children of the deceased are the beneficiaries of the estate. One or more of these persons may serve as administrator, as well, or a third party may serve as administrator in some cases. For individuals who were unmarried at the time of their deaths, his or her next of kin would be the beneficiaries of the estate.
Deadline to File a Claim
Estate administrators should file wrongful death actions within three years of the date of the death, or of the date on which the administrator knew or reasonably should have known of a basis for the wrongful death suit. If the administrators fail to file a lawsuit within that timeframe, or statute of limitations, they would likely be unable to file the wrongful death claim or seek any damages from any responsible parties. Therefore, consulting with a Massachusetts wrongful death lawyer to determine the possibility of promptly filing a wrongful death suit can be essential to recovering compensation.
Damages in Massachusetts Wrongful Death Claims
Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 229§2 outlines the damages that may be available to surviving family members of the deceased through a wrongful death action. Some of these damages may include:
- Final medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of future income and earning capacity
- Loss of consortium, including the loss of advice, support, companionship, care, and comfort
In some cases, punitive damages may also be available. These damages may be relevant when individuals engaged in wanton, willful, or criminal conduct in causing death. Since punitive damages are designed to punish persons for their misdeeds, the amount of the damages may depend on the economic wealth and status of the persons responsible for the wrongful death.
Some cases in which punitive damages may be available include accidents that occur as a result of drunk or impaired driving, texting while driving, or other illegal conduct. In these cases, legal counsel must present evidence that the illicit behavior led directly to the death of the decedent. As these cases may be involved, individuals should consider the merits of getting advice from an accomplished lawyer.
Contact a Massachusetts Wrongful Death Attorney for Advice
Losing a loved one may be one of the most challenging situations to handle. While you may not think of contacting legal counsel right away, you may wish to consider doing so if you lost a loved one to a preventable accident. Not only could you be awarded a compensation amount, but a Massachusetts wrongful death lawyer may be able to hold negligent parties accountable for causing the death of your loved.
Waiting too long to pursue possible compensation can result in the dismissal of your claim. Be sure to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible to get started on your case.