The term, “wrongful death” is used in statutes in Nevada and other states to describe the right of survivors to file a lawsuit when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act of another. A typical example is a motor vehicle accident caused by a negligent driver which results in the death of one who was not at fault (or whose fault was lesser in comparison). However, wrongful death laws also apply to deaths caused by defective products, professional malpractice, inadequate security at casinos and any number of other situations where a death can be attributed to the negligence of another person.
In Nevada, the “legal heirs” of the decedent have the right to assert the wrongful death claim. The legal heirs are those who could inherit from a deceased person who did not have a will. A spouse and all children are legal heirs, and parents or siblings can qualify if the decedent was unmarried and had no children. Unmarried domestic partners do not have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim unless the couple officially registered with the State as a domestic partnership.
The legal heirs may recover monetary damages for their grief and sorrow plus their loss of probable support and loss of the care, comfort, companionship and consortium which was part of their relationship with the deceased person. Medical and funeral expenses, as well as the decedent’s pain and suffering, are also elements of the claim.
Limiting factors are the amount of the applicable liability insurance and the strength of the case in terms of which party was at fault. In recent years, I have handled several wrongful death cases. Settlements have ranged from $250,000 to well over $10,000,000. Retain an experienced attorney when faced with any such tragic situation.
Bruce L. Woodbury is an attorney with the law firm of Jolley Urga Wirth Woodbury & Standish. The firm has offices in Boulder City and Las Vegas. To contact Bruce, call him at 293-3674 or 699-7500, or visit his website at www.juwws.com.