Losing a loved one can be devastating. However, losing a loved one because of another person’s negligent, reckless, or intentional actions can be a traumatizing and overwhelming ordeal that can leave families emotionally broken and dealing with extensive financial hardships that can forever change their lives. Yet, before these individuals can take legal action against the wrongful party that killed their loved one, they first need to determine who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Rhode Island.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If an individual is killed because of a person’s negligence or misconduct, their surviving family may sue for “wrongful death.” These types of lawsuits are in place to help the decedent’s survivors seek compensation for their losses, including lost wages from the deceased, funeral expenses, and loss of companionship. Examples of incidents that can lead to wrongful death include medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and/or neglect, and car accidents.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Rhode Island?
In Rhode Island, the executor of the decedent’s estate has six months from the death to file a wrongful death claim. If the estate does not have an executor, or if they do not submit the lawsuit within this period of time, the decedent’s loved ones may pursue a wrongful death claim in the name of the beneficiaries. However, it is important to note that once the beneficiaries file this lawsuit, the executor cannot also pursue a claim.
What’s more, the state’s laws also allow the deceased’s parents, spouse, and children to submit a separate wrongful death lawsuit, which, if successful, enables damages to be awarded directly to them. For instance:
- The decedent’s spouse can obtain compensation for loss of consortium due to their spouse’s death.
- The decedent’s children can obtain compensation for loss of companionship and parental society.
- The decedent’s parents can obtain compensation for the loss of their child’s companionship and society.
What Types of Damages Can You Pursue Following a Wrongful Death?
If a wrongful death case is successful, the deceased’s survivors may be awarded certain damages. In Rhode Island, these damages include compensation for the following types of losses:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial costs
- Medical costs associated with the decedent’s final illness or injuries
- Lost benefits
- Lost wages, including the value of the wages the decedent would have reasonably been expected to earn had they survived
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of guidance the deceased offered the surviving family members
- Loss of services the decedent provided their family
- Loss of homemaker services
In addition, punitive damages may also be awarded, but only in situations where the defendant’s actions were extremely or grossly negligent and the deceased would have personally been awarded these damages had they survived the accident.
Time Limitations to Submit a Wrongful Death Claim in Rhode Island
Every state has time limitations when it comes to filing a legal suit following an accident or alleged offense. This time period is known as the statute of limitations. As a result, a wrongful death claim in Rhode Island must be prepared and submitted within three years of the individual’s death. However, as discussed previously, the estate’s representative has much less time to file since the regulations indicate they only have six months to bring a claim.
Why Should You Reach Out to an Experienced Rhode Island Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Wrongful death suits are generally complex and tedious claims, meaning that before you can obtain compensation for the losses you endured following your loved one’s death, you not only need to prepare strong legal arguments that can help show what happened and who was at fault for the accident that claimed your loved one but also secure detailed evidence proving your case. However, after losing a family member in an accident, this is probably the last thing you want to worry about.
Fortunately, with an experienced Rhode Island wrongful death lawyer on your side, you will not have to take on this legal fight alone. Once hired, these lawyers can:
- Evaluate your claim and determine if you have a viable wrongful death case
- Figure out the legal options you can pursue
- Investigate your loved one’s accident that led to their death and obtain the evidence needed to prove fault and damages
- Hire experts to validate your case, such as doctors, accident reconstructionists, and financial specialists
- Make sure that legal documents and motions are appropriately prepared and filed with the correct court before time expires
- Prepare a strong case on your behalf and fight for the maximum compensation you and your family deserve
If you lost a loved one in a Rhode Island accident due to another person’s wrongful actions, do not wait to get the legal help you need. Instead, contact an experienced Rhode Island wrongful death attorney today for a free consultation and let these lawyers show you how they can help you.