Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult experiences in life. Losing a loved one in a preventable accident caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of another can make the experience even more devastating. Fortunately for families in Nevada, state law recognizes the need for wrongdoers to be held accountable when their actions result in the loss of life.
At Fahrendorf, Viloria, Oliphant & Oster L.L.P., our Reno personal injury lawyers are dedicated advocates for the injured and the wronged, including families who have lost a loved one due to wrongful death. By helping families ensure their voices are heard in the civil justice system and working to hold at-fault parties accountable, we play a major role in helping secure the justice and financial compensation they deserve.
Wrongful death cases are not easy cases, but they can be effectively handled with help from proven lawyers who know the law. Our legal team has an in-depth understanding of Nevada’s wrongful death statute, and we use this insight to help clients not only understand their rights, but also efficiently navigate the legal procedures needed to hold a person accountable for their misconduct and liable for the damages families suffer as a result of their family member’s passing.
To help you gain a better understanding of wrongful death claims, who can file them, and how they work, we have put together the following general overview:
What is Wrongful Death?
Under the Nevada Revised Statutes, wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of another’s negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct. Families whose loved one was killed by a drunk driver, for example, can pursue a wrongful death case, as drunk driving is a known and highly negligent act. Just as with personal injury claims, victims – in this case certain eligible family members of the deceased – have the right to bring a wrongful death action when they believe death was caused by these factors.
Statute of Limitations
Families only have a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit following the passing of their loved one. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations, and in Nevada, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of a victim’s death. Waiting too long can bar plaintiffs from filing claims and recovering compensation, which is why it is important to take swift action and speak with an attorney as soon as you can.
Not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Under Nevada law, the following parties have a right to bring legal action in connection to a wrongful death:
- A spouse, domestic partner, or children
- Parents, if there is no spouse or children
- A representative of the victim’s estate
There are some limited exceptions to this, and certain parties, such as stepchildren or stepparents, may be able to file claims if it can be shown that they were dependent on the decedent when they passed. If you are unsure as to whether you can file a wrongful death claim, our legal team can review your situation and help you understand your eligibility.
Burden of Proof
One of the common misconceptions people have when it comes to wrongful death cases is that they are similar to or the same as criminal cases for crimes such as murder or manslaughter. The truth is that wrongful death actions are conducted in civil court, and are conducted separately from any criminal proceedings. If there are criminal charges filed in connection to a death, they concern only whether a person is guilty of committing a crime. Civil wrongful death claims, on the other hand, concern whether a person is liable for the death of another. Additionally, the burden of proof is different in both cases. In civil wrongful death actions, families must prove that a defendant more likely than not caused the decedent’s death, whereas in criminal matters the burden of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, is a higher burden. This is why families can still file, and win, wrongful death cases even if the at-fault party never faces criminal charges, or even when they are found not guilty.
When successful, wrongful death claims secure a further sense of justice for family members that want to hold at-fault parties accountable for the harm they cause. These cases can also raise awareness about dangerous forms of negligence, and can set examples that deter others from committing similar acts that put other innocent people at risk. Additionally, a successful case can allow victims to recover financial compensation for damages they incurred as a direct result of their loved one’s accident and death, including:
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Lost future financial income and benefits
- Loss of companionship and affection
- Mental and emotional anguish
Our legal team at Fahrendorf, Viloria, Oliphant & Oster L.L.P. provides the caring, compassionate, and committed representation families need during difficult times. We also possess the extensive experience required to satisfy all elements of a wrongful death claim and ensure at-fault parties are held liable for the losses of victims and families. By drawing from decades of experience and working personally with clients, we aim to maximize their compensation as much as possible.To discuss a potential wrongful death case with a member of our legal team during a FREE consultation, contact us today. Our firm handles wrongful death and personal injury cases on contingency fees, which means there are no fees to hiring us and no fees unless we win your case.