Many catastrophic accidents end in the death of one or more persons. Fatal car, workplace, slip and fall, and medical malpractice accidents can cut lives short. If one of your loved ones recently passed away in a personal injury accident, the Billings wrongful death attorneys at Ragain & Cook, P.C., are compassionate and sympathetic; we will fight on your behalf for fair compensation.
We know this is not an easy time for your family, but you should know you’re doing the right thing by investigating your options. Here’s what you need to know about wrongful death claims in Billings.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Montana state code section 27-1-513 defines wrongful death as injuries to and the death of one person caused by the “wrongful act or neglect of another.” A wrongful death claim is like a personal injury claim in many ways. The goal of both types of claims is to compensate one party for the harmful negligence of the other party.
A wrongful death claim can lead to the same types of compensation the injured victim could have recovered had he or she survived, plus additional awards for the pain, suffering, and losses of the surviving family members. Only certain people can file wrongful death claims in Montana:
- The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
- The deceased person’s parents or legal guardians if the deceased person is a child under the age of 18.
The court will appoint a representative of the estate if one does not already exist within your family. Your attorney can help you with this aspect of wrongful death claims. If a representative of the estate secures compensation on a deceased person’s behalf, it is the representative’s responsibility to distribute the award among surviving families as appropriate.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
The types of damages a party may recover in a wrongful death claim differ slightly from those in a typical personal injury claim. Potential compensation includes recovery for:
- Economic damages. These are losses that have a concrete dollar amount tied to them, such as medical bills, lost wages and benefits, and funeral and burial expenses. Economic damages may include the wages and benefits the deceased person would have likely earned in his or her lifetime if it weren’t for the premature death.
- Non-economic damages. These losses are more difficult to quantify. They are intangible losses that are nonetheless valuable to surviving family members. These damages include loss of the deceased person’s companionship, parental guidance, love, and care. It can include spousal consortium and caregiver responsibilities to children or elderly parents.
Do not hesitate to file your wrongful death claim. In Montana, the statute of limitations (or deadline for filing) is three years after the death of your loved one. If your loved one’s death stemmed from a criminal homicide, you have ten years to file. The sooner you file, the sooner your family can receive the compensation and justice it needs to heal after the loss of a loved one.
Speak to Caring, Capable Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
After the traumatic death of a loved one, you have the right to ask questions. You are entitled to determine the cause of the accident and the possible parties responsible. There may be a distracted driver, negligent manufacturer, or careless employer whose actions contributed to your loved one’s fatal accident.
Enlist the help of Ragain & Cook, PC, to find out. Our team will take care of the paperwork and negotiations process so your family can focus on what is most important – being together during this difficult time. For a free case evaluation, please contact us today.