When an individual is killed in a preventable accident caused by another person’s negligence, the victim’s family may have a legal right to pursue compensation for financial and emotional damages by way of a wrongful death lawsuit. There are specific rules for filing this type of lawsuit, including who can file and how much time an individual has to file suit before they no longer have recourse. In this blog, our Reno wrongful death attorneys have answered four of the most frequently asked questions about this area of the law. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Fahrendorf, Viloria, Oliphant & Oster L.L.P. to request a free initial consultation. We’d be happy to review your case and inform you of your options.
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1. When Should I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
It is wise for family members to contact seasoned legal advocacy as soon as possible. This will allow the selected attorney to begin examining the case right away, providing more time for a lawyer to gather witness reports, evidence to prove the fault of another party, and other facts that can be crucial in the pursuit of financial compensation. Since there is a statute of limitations for wrongful death cases in Nevada, it is important not to delay in contacting a lawyer, because if you wait too long, you may lose your right to seek compensation.
2. What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases in Nevada?
Nevada laws state that family members must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of the individual’s passing. However, the sooner a family member and legal counsel file the lawsuit, should he or she choose to hire one, the more likely the case is to succeed in court. Wrongful death cases can be filed concurrently with criminal cases; for example, you may file a civil lawsuit for the wrongful death of a family member in a drunk driving accident at the same time the defendant is facing criminal charges for DUI. You do not have to wait until a decision is made in the criminal portion of the case.
3. Which Family Members Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
Wrongful death lawsuits are considered civil lawsuits and must be filed in court by one of the following family members in order to pursue financial compensation:
- The surviving domestic partner or spouse
- The children/child of the deceased individual
- The parents of the deceased person, if no surviving children or spouse exist
- The personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
It may be possible for other individuals to file a lawsuit if they can prove that they were dependent on the deceased person when he or she passed away. For example, a stepchild or another non-related child may be able to file a successful claim if it can be showed that they relied on the deceased person for financial support.
4. What Types of Damages Can I Recover?
Nevada Revised Statutes section 1.085 govern the types of damages that are available in wrongful death claims. Generally, these damages fall into one of two categories: penalties and special damages. Special damages are those actually suffered by the deceased individual, the surviving family members, or the estate. Special damages include awards for losses such as:
- Medical costs resulting from the deceased person's final injury or illness
- Reasonable burial and funeral costs
- Property damage incurred in the accident that caused the fatality
- Loss of care, affection, and companionship of the deceased person
- Loss of benefits to heirs
- Lost benefits and wages (This includes those the deceased person could reasonably have earned if he or she had lived)
Punitive damages may be available in some cases. However, unlike special damages, punitive damages are awarded as a way to penalize the at-fault person’s wrongful conduct.
Consult a Reno Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Compensation for a wrongful death is not automatic and needs to be sought promptly with the help of an experienced lawyer. If you have suffered the loss of a loved one and believe another person should be held liable for your loss, we encourage you to get in touch with our Reno wrongful death lawyers at Fahrendorf, Viloria, Oliphant & Oster L.L.P. right away. We can examine the details of your case and determine which legal strategies can best help you pursue monetary compensation. We understand that no amount of compensation can replace the life of a loved one, but we believe in the fight for justice on behalf of our clients. That is why we stand ready to fight for your rights.
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