Losing a loved one is always difficult, even when the person dies from natural causes after a well-lived life. The death of a family member can be traumatic, though, when the death is not the result of natural causes and the individual dies well before their time. If you are the surviving family member of someone whose death was caused by the negligence of another, you may have the right to bring forth a wrongful death claim in our state. Here’s what you need to know–
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in MA?
As found in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 229 Section 2, only the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate maintains the right to seek damages via a wrongful death action. However, most of the time, the administrator or executor is a family member–often a spouse or adult child. If no administrator is named in the decedent’s will, the court may appoint one. The damages that are collected via the wrongful death action will be paid to the decedent’s estate, and then distributed to beneficiaries as appropriate.
Types of Damages Available
A wrongful death action in our state can be used to recover compensation for both economic and noneconomic losses. Examples of types of damages that may be recoverable in a wrongful death action include:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- The value of the decedent’s lost wages, earning potential, and benefits;
- The value of the lost services of the decedent;
- The value of lost protection, care, assistance, comfort, companionship, guidance, and counsel; and
- Any medical expenses incurred prior to death related to the accident.
Additionally, punitive damages may be available in some cases. Punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant rather than compensate the plaintiff, may be sought when the death of the decedent was caused by the defendant’s gross negligence or willful, wanton, or reckless conduct.
Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Death Actions
Like all civil actions, there is a strict limit on how much time may pass before a plaintiff will be barred from pursuing a wrongful death action. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is three years from the date of death. The statute of limitations may be extended from three years from the time that the executor or administrator of the estate knew or reasonably should have known of the basis of a cause for action, rather than from the date of the decedent’s death.
Get Help with Your Wrongful Death Action
Our lawyers sympathize with what you’re going through and know the pain and anger that you’re surely experiencing if your loved one’s life has been taken by someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. To learn more about your right to file a wrongful death claim and seek monetary damages, please call our Massachusetts personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at The Law Offices of Alan Hildreth King & Associates immediately. We offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. Reach us by phone at (781) 284-2900 or send us a confidential message online today.