A wrongful death occurs when a person loses their life due to the negligent, accidental or intentional acts or omissions of another person. The death can be the result of many types of incidents or accidents including a traffic collision (pedestrian, bicycle, motorcycle, car, truck, train, airplane, boat), a dog attack, nursing home abuse, product defects, work place safety violations or a slip and falls. When a wrongful death occurs, the decedent’s heirs, family members and other specified beneficiaries may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim against the person at fault for the death.
The West Seegmiller Attorneys has been handling case of wrongful death in Las Vegas, Nevada for 30 years. Our expert trial lawyers including founder West Seegmiller have a wealth of experience in this area of the law. Our expert legal team is compassionate with our clients, but our attorneys are aggressive in the courtroom and work tirelessly to settle lawsuits against negligent defendants responsible for the loss of our client’s loved ones.
So What Exactly is a Wrongful Death?
It is a Tort action found under Nevada Civil Code 1708, “Every person is bound, without contract, to abstain from injuring the person or property of another, or infringing upon any of his rights.”
A tort action for wrongful death can be either 1) intentional 2) negligence (not intentional) or 3) strict liability
- Intentional – A wrongful death lawsuit brought against a party under an intentional tort would have to prove that the defendant knew his actions would cause injury or death, but he or she willfully or recklessly disregarded safety. Also, as a result of the defendant’s actions, another person was killed.
- Negligence – This involves a defendant whose careless acts hurt another person, but they didn’t set out to hurt them rather it was an unintended consequence of their bad behavior. Some examples are a driver who falls asleep at the wheel or a homeowner who fails to enclose a swimming pool.
- Strict liability – This is imposed on some defendants regardless of how careful they were or their degree of fault because they are engaged in very hazardous or activities that are inherently dangerous to others such as owning vicious animals, storing explosives or dangerous chemicals.
Why Do People File Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
The Nevada legislature created wrongful death statutes to provide financial support to the widows and orphans of people killed by another person’s actions. Criminal charges are a separate charge and its outcome against a defendant does not preclude a family member from filing a wrongful death lawsuit against that same defendant if they are freed. One famous example was the case of O.J. Simpson who was charged with murdering his wife Nicole Brown. Simpson was acquitted of the murder charges, but Brown’s family was successful in its civil suit against Simpson with a Nevada wrongful death claim.
When to File a Wrongful Death Case?
There are strict limitations set under Nevada law that define how much time you have to file this type of lawsuit. Our helpful attorneys and legal staff can answer any of your questions about wrongful death claims in Southern Nevada, Northern Nevada or Nevada.
- Statutes of Limitation: (Within 2 years for both Las Vegas, Nevada) Under Nevada Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1 a plaintiff has two years to file a wrongful death claim against a defendant in the case of a death resulting from “an assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.” If a claim is not filed within two years the plaintiff loses the right to file an action.
- Claims against Government entities (Cities, Counties, State, Federal) Lawsuits filed against the government can vary and can be complicated. Some require 30 to 180 days notice prior to a lawyer filing a lawsuit. Failure to notify a government agency may preclude a plaintiff from the right to sue them. Specialized attorneys who handle wrongful death claims know how to abide by these deadlines, but delaying contacting an attorney can hurt your chances of a wrongful death settlement.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Las Vegas, Nevada, claims for wrongful death are strictly regulated. The Nevada Code of Civil Procedure Sections 377.60 provides that certain individuals with a relationship to the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit based on an order of priority. First on the list are the decedent’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, children and issue of deceased children, or, if there is no surviving issue of the decedent, the persons, including the surviving spouse or domestic partner, who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession.
Additionally, others may file a lawsuit if they can prove they were dependent on the decedent at the time of death including the putative spouse, children of the putative spouse, stepchildren, or parents. The “putative spouse” refers to the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who is found by the court to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was valid. Also, another potential claimant, is a minor who may not be related to the decedent, but can prove they resided for the previous 180 days in the decedent’s household and was dependent on him or her for at least half or more of the minor’s support.
Compensation for wrongful death can include:
- Funeral and Burial Expenses
- Survivor’s Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Companionship, Care, and Affection
- Loss of Future Anticipated Earnings
- Medical Expenses
- Loss of Benefits to Heirs
- Punitive Damages