An individual or entity is liable in a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada if that individual’s or organization’s unlawful actions cause another’s death. It does not matter if the death was accidental as a result of negligence or intentional.
Wrongful death attorneys in Henderson, Nevada handle claims that arise out of various circumstances. Some examples include:
- Vehicle and other accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Criminal behavior
- Product liability
- Premises liability
- Death during monitored or supervised care/activity
- Exposure to hazardous substances or conditions at work
While a majority of Nevada claims are settled through English common law and past similar cases, wrongful death is statutory. Therefore, to prove that a defendant is liable for wrongful death, the court would require the plaintiff (the decedent’s family members) to prove the four elements of negligence to be true:
- Duty of care existed: The defendant owed a legal obligation to the deceased (victim) under the given circumstances;
- Breach of duty: The defendants intentionally or accidentally breached that legal duty by failing to act or acting in a particular manner;
- Causation: It was the defendant’s inaction or actions and not some other reason that caused the death of the victim; and
- The plaintiff suffered actual loss or harm as a result of the defendant’s actions.
How best to prove negligence in a wrongful death case depends entirely on the unique facts surrounding it. Common evidence that helps strengthen these types of claims include:
- Medical records detailing the decedent’s medical condition prior to their death as well as the cause of death
- Video surveillance footage or photos of the accident
- Police and eyewitness testimony
- Accident reconstruct and other expert testimonies
- Written or recorded communication between the victim and the defendant
Note that even if the defendant is found liable for the wrongful death of your loved one in a Nevada court, the defendant cannot be sentenced to prison. Instead, the defendant is typically ordered to pay financial damages. This is because wrongful death claims are civil suits and not criminal cases.
Who is Eligible to Lodge a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Nevada?
In Nevada, only two parties are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. They are:
- Decedent’s estate; and /or
- The decedent’s intestate heirs – this is a legal way of referring to the decedent’s surviving family members.
For instance, if a person dies as a result of wrongful death, that individual’s children, legal companion, or spouse would be the heirs. If the deceased was unmarried and childless, then the heirs, in this case, would be (listed in order of seniority):
- The parents of the deceased
- The closest surviving relative who is not a sibling or parent.
To clarify things, below are people who cannot lodge a wrongful death claim in Nevada, even if said people are named beneficiaries in the decedent’s will.
- Best friends
- Foster children or adopted stepchildren
- Significant others or fiancées
Who Can I Sue for Wrongful Death in Nevada? And How Will They Fight Back?
A person, company, or entity can face a wrongful death suit in Nevada for wrongfully causing another person’s death. Examples of possible defendants in wrongful death cases include:
- An individual who intentionally stabbed or shot another with intent to commit homicide or harm them
- A parent who negligently lets his/her kids play with a firearm, which accidentally goes off and kills someone
- Medical malpractice where a physician negligently kills a patient by prescribing the wrong medication
- An employer who lets employees work in a hazardous work site
- A driver driving recklessly or drunk accidentally caused an accident that killed someone
Note: In Nevada, places that serve alcohol may not be held responsible for wrongful death by continuing to sell alcohol to a victim aged 21 or older, even if the victim’s intoxication led to someone’s death.
There are endless defense strategies that defendants can use in an attempt to escape accountability. But in most wrongful death cases, the defendants try to show the court that someone else or something other than themselves caused the death of the victim. Other common defense arguments include:
- The defendant is being mistaken for someone else
- The defendant may have been at the scene but did not contribute to the victim’s death
- The defendant acted the way they did in legal self-defense
- The deceased signed a legally binding agreement taking responsibility for his or her death (this is common in cases involving victims who were participating in dangerous occupations such as car racing or construction)
- The defendant is falsely accused
Therefore, your lawyer’s job is not just about proving negligence; it’s also about casting doubt on the defendant’s defense and showing that their excuses are not relevant to the case or credible.
Plaintiffs usually have only two years from the day the victim passed away to lodge a wrongful death lawsuit in Nevada. This is why the estate representative and the victim’s family are encouraged to consult with a reputable wrongful death attorney right away. The attorney can then file the suit early and use the extra time to compile vital evidence and craft a strong case.
What Financial Damages Can I Recover?
Wrongful death is a serious civil claim; after all, one can never put a price tag on another person’s life. Therefore, it’s only natural that these cases yield significant settlement figures and jury rewards. A perfect example is the Mandalay Bay Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting case – where MGM’s negligent actions allegedly contributed to hundreds of innocent people dying – MGM may end up paying hundreds of millions of dollars as compensation to the victims’ families.
If a decedent’s estate sues for wrongful death in Nevada, it may recover compensation for the following damages:
- Special damages, including the victim’s medical expenses prior to their death
- Funeral expenses
- Any compensatory damages that the deceased would have recovered from the defendant had he or she not passed away
- Any punitive damages that the deceased would have recovered from the defendant had he or she nor passed away
While the purpose of awarding compensatory damages is to approximate and compensate the estate for actual financial losses following the victim’s death, punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and to deter other people or entities from acting is similar conduct.
Meanwhile, heirs who lodge a wrongful death suit can recover damages for the following:
- Grief and sorrow
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship, comfort, society, and loss of consortium
- Loss of financial support
There are many factors that courts consider to determine the financial loss incurred following someone’s death. These factors include:
- The plaintiff’s age
- The plaintiff’s ability to earn income
- The plaintiff’s overall health and life expectancy
However, perhaps the most crucial consideration is that of the victim’s situation at the actual time of death. For example, if an adult employee dies and leaves behind dependents, the primary recoverable damages include loss of parental guidance and income loss. In such a situation, the chances are that the jury would think about the victim’s earnings at the time of death and the victim’s future earnings.
Contact Nettles Morris for Help with Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Nevada
Losing someone you love may be the hardest thing you ever have to deal with. No one is ever prepared for this sort of thing. So, when it happens, it’s best to seek help.
If your loved one passed away as a result of a third party’s negligence, call an experienced wrongful death attorney. They will help determine who was at fault, and they will pursue justice for you and your family so that you can get the damages you deserve.
Call Nettles Morris to schedule your free initial consultation. Let a seasoned wrongful death law firm in Nevada with a proven track record handle the legal side of things.