The heirs of a person killed in an accident caused by the negligence of another person did not always have the right to file a claim for damages. Recovering for monetary damages for the loss of a loved one is a relatively recent addition to the American legal system. Personal injury attorney Adam Kutner represents family members suing for compensation for the loss of a relative and the estate representative suing to collect damages on behalf of the deceased. Both claims are brought under the Nevada wrongful death statute.
The American legal system is derived from the common law of England. Under English common law, the relatives of a person who was killed in an accident did not have a right of action against the negligent person who might have caused the accident.
Nevada Wrongful Death Statute
Eventually, states began to enact laws that created a right of action by the representative of the estate of a deceased person for compensation. Under Nevada law, the representative of an estate may sue the person responsible for the death of the decedent for medical expenses, funeral expenses and any penalties, including exemplary or punitive damages.
Included in the Nevada wrongful death law is a separate cause of action that can be brought by the heirs. The claim by the heirs is for the damages they suffer due to the loss of a loved one. Damages include loss of support, loss of companionship and damages for the pain and suffering or disfigurement of the deceased.
Limitations on the Right to Sue
The Nevada wrongful death statute does not open the door to lawsuits by everyone who might have been close to the deceased. Domestic partners, stepchildren and fiancees do not have the right to file a wrongful death action seeking compensation for their loss.
Only those individuals entitled to share in the estate of a person dying without a will are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Those individuals entitled to share in a decedent’s estate include the surviving spouse, children, parents and siblings of the deceased.
Separate Causes of Action
Personal injury attorneys such as Adam Kutner know that it is a common practice to file the claim on behalf of the deceased person’s estate and the claim by the individual heirs as separate causes of action in a single wrongful death lawsuit.
The claim for damages by the decedent’s estate is separate from the claims by each of the heirs. Consequently, settlement of the estate’s claim with the person who caused the accident does not settle the claims by the individuals. If you have a claim for damages arising from the death of a loved one, an experienced wrongful-death attorney such as Adam Kutner can assist you.