Accidents and negligent actions occur on a daily basis, in different manners. In most cases, people are left with severe injuries and need a long time to recover. Unfortunately, in the worst-case scenarios, a person dies either immediately after the accident or as a result of the catastrophic injuries they have suffered. In this instance, the victim’s bereaved family needs the assistance of a wrongful death attorney in Las Vegas to understand their legal rights.
Many people do not understand the concept of wrongful death. They believe that, in the absence of criminal charges, they have no legal options to seek justice and find relief from the financial burdens caused by their loved one’s death. For this reason, in this article, the experienced Nevada personal injury attorneys at Nettles Morris will explain this matter in detail.
What Is the Legal Definition of Wrongful Death in the State of Nevada?
We find a brief but clear definition of wrongful death in Nevada Revised Statutes 41.085. The legislators describe it as “the death of a person, whether or not a minor, is caused by the wrongful act or neglect or another.” Thus, in this understanding, wrongful death is not necessarily connected with criminal charges and prosecution.
The person who caused another’s death needn’t have acted with malicious intent (assault or murder). The wrongful death attorney in Las Vega simply has to prove that the defendant was negligent or committed an unintentional wrongful act, such as a car accident.
Further Differences between a Wrongful Death Action and Criminal Prosecution
The most important difference between a wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal homicide prosecution is the legal classification of the two actions and their outcomes. Wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions heard in civil courts. Criminal prosecution lawsuits are heard in criminal courts and are filed by the state against the accused.
Secondly, at the end of a wrongful death lawsuit, Nevada personal injury attorneys will win financial compensation for the deceased person’s family, payable by the defendant. Whereas, if a defendant is found guilty at the end of a criminal prosecution, the punishment is jail or prison time and fines paid to the state (not the decedent’s family).
Finally, in a criminal case, the accused person’s guilt must be established “beyond any reasonable doubt”. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the bar is not set as high. The plaintiff must prove the defendant’s negligence “by a preponderance of evidence”.
Common Examples of Wrongful Death Cases in Las Vegas
To clarify the matter further, our Nevada personal injury attorneys will discuss some of the unfortunate situations which may lead to a person’s death and give their family the right to file a claim:
1. Motor Vehicle Accidents
Unfortunately, traffic accidents are the number one cause for most wrongful death lawsuits across our state and the rest of the US. This term covers several types of accidents:
- Passenger vehicle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bus/Uber accidents
- Bicycle accidents.
In any of these instances, the bereaved family has to prove the other driver’s negligence under the same conditions as for a personal injury lawsuit – that is, the defendant must be more than 50% at fault for the accident.
2. Medical Malpractice
We put our lives in the hands of doctors, nurses, and hospital staff. Sadly, in some cases, they are negligent and the result is a patient’s death. Medical malpractice errors are defined as:
- Error in diagnosing a life-threatening condition
- Medication error
- Surgical error
- Birth defects
- Defective medical devices.
Depending on the circumstances, the liable party in a wrongful death lawsuit may be the person who committed the error, the healthcare institution, or a producer of defective medical devices.
3. Workplace Accidents
Employees are not always performing their duties in a safe workplace, as they should. Accidents of all kinds happen on construction sites, in workshops, warehouses, production facilities and other workplaces. When a worker dies as the result of the injuries suffered in a workplace accident, their employer is liable to pay economic and non-economic damages to the bereaved family.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death attorney in Las Vegas will instruct any of the following eligible persons to file a claim:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse
- The deceased’s children
- The deceased’s parents, if there are no surviving children or spouse
- The deceased’s siblings, if there are no surviving parents, children, or spouse
- The deceased’s personal representative (or executor).
If there are no surviving parents, siblings, children, or spouse, the next closest family member has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Types of Damages You May Seek in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit is sometimes called a surviving action, because the deceased person’s family is seeking compensation on behalf of the person who suffered as a result of another’s negligence, but can no longer seek justice.
Just like in the case of a personal injury lawsuit, Nevada law allows plaintiffs to seek economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are defined as:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical care costs (if the victim spent time in hospital before death)
- Lost wages and benefits that the deceased would have been reasonably expected to earn
- Loss of personal services and guidance.
Non-economic damages include:
- The deceased’s pain and suffering before losing their life
- Loss of companionship, affection, and care
- Survivors’ sorrow and grief.
If the defendant is found to have acted with malicious intent or gross negligence, the jury may also award punitive damages.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
According to Nevada Revised Statutes 11.190 – 4(e), the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases is 2 (two) years after the person’s death. This is not a very long period of time, given the fact that many families are in shock and overwhelmed by grief during the first months after a loved one’s death.
Although it may seem difficult to think of practical matters, you should contact a wrongful death attorney in Las Vegas as soon as possible to make sure that you will get the compensation your family deserves.
Hire an Experienced and Compassionate Wrongful Death Lawyer in Las Vegas!
At Nettles Morris, you will find a team of Nevada personal injury attorneys who will treat your case with maximum professionalism, and with human compassion for your suffering. We are here to make sure that you have a sense of justice being done and to ease your financial burdens.
We work on a contingency fee basis, so you do not have to pay us any upfront fees. We encourage you to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys as soon as possible by calling 702-410-6239!