The death of a loved one is always painful, but grieving can feel impossible if someone passed as a result of a personal injury. If another’s negligence led to an accidental death, a Brookline wrongful death lawyer could support you by explaining your legal rights and options.
Under state law, certain parties have the legal right to file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased individual, if the deceased could have filed a personal injury lawsuit. If the death resulted because a person or company failed to exercise reasonable care, breached a warranty, or acted recklessly, that party may be found liable. An empathetic personal injury attorney could work with a potential legal action, so you may focus on healing.
As outlined by Massachusetts General Laws Ch 229 § 2, the deceased’s executor or administrator could file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. The executor or administrator is usually a person named in the will of the decedent and is responsible for following their instructions, paying their final debts, and finalizing their estate. This person typically completes this with the help of an experienced Brookline wrongful death lawyer.
It is important for the family of the deceased and the administrator of the estate to know that civil and criminal charges for wrongful death are different. Criminal charges are brought by the local prosecutor and punishable with jail time, fines, probation, and potentially other penalties. However, civil charges are brought by the executor of the estate and defendant liability is expressed in monetary compensation paid to the deceased’s estate.
Under Massachusetts General Laws Ch 231 §85, being found guilty of a crime is evidence against a defendant in civil court. However, it does not automatically mean that the accused is liable in a negligent death lawsuit. Potential plaintiffs should speak to an experienced Brookline wrongful death attorney to determine what types of evidence can be used in their case.
If the jury determines that the defendant is liable for the death, damages available to the plaintiff may include:
A seasoned lawyer could help determine the value of a deceased person’s care, comfort, guidance, counsel, and advice. This value could be used when seeking an adequate damage award.
Massachusetts law allows juries to assign punitive damages for certain defendants. If the jury determines that the death arose out of malicious, willful, wanton, or reckless conduct, or gross negligence, they may assign punitive damages of at least $5,000. Higher amounts may be awarded depending on the evidence presented and the circumstances.
Punitive damages are not awarded to compensate the family or the estate. These damages punish the defendants for their careless or ill-willed behavior and to deter future similar behavior from others.
The death of a family member or loved is always tragic. When the death occurred because of another party’s negligence or intentional acts, the shock runs even deeper. Families may be overwhelmed with grief while facing end-of-life expenses and concerns about how to settle an estate. Once you are ready, allow a seasoned Brookline wrongful death lawyer to offer assistance and help alleviate some of the stresses you face.