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What Actually is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Accident Attorney Representing Boston Area Families

Personal injury accidents are always tragic, but when someone loses their life as the result of another person’s carelessness, the outcome is devastating for the surviving loved ones. Massachusetts has enacted specific laws that allow the decedent’s estate to seek compensation and damages from the person responsible for the horrific incident. Although it is similar to a personal injury lawsuit in some respects, there are aspects of a wrongful death claim that are different and certain procedural mechanisms that need to be followed. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein and Affiliates P.C., we have over two decades of experience fighting on behalf of personal injury victims and their surviving loved ones. If you lost someone as the result of an inexcusable accident, an seasoned Boston wrongful death lawyer can help you understand your options, and what a wrongful death claim actually consists of.

Understanding What a Wrongful Death Claim Actually is in Massachusetts

According to Massachusetts law, a person or company can be held liable for the death of an individual if the company or person owed the individual a duty of care and failed to act according to that duty, resulting in the death of the individual. To file a wrongful death claim, the person who lost their life as a result of the negligent conduct must have had standing to bring a personal injury claim if he or she had survived the incident. The law has listed some specific exceptions to the wrongful death rule stating that a wrongful death claim cannot be asserted against an employer when the employee loses his or her life on the job. There are also exceptions governing incidents involving railroads and streetcars.

The wrongful death claim must be initiated by the administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate. This person is typically designated in the decedent’s will or trust. If the decedent did not appoint an administrator or executor, the probate court can appoint one. A wrongful death claim can be pursued even if there are criminal charges pending against the person responsible for the death. A skilled injury lawyer can help you navigate this kind of situation.

Recovering Damages Following the Loss of A loved One

When it comes to different types of wrongful death claims, any personal injury matter can serve as the basis for a wrongful death claim if the victim lost his or her life as a result of the incident. Some of the most common examples include motor vehicle accidents where another driver fails to use reasonable and prudent care behind the wheel, causing another motorist or passenger to lose his or her life as a result. Bicycle accidents and motorcycle accidents have higher rates of wrongful death claims because the victim is so exposed to the elements, especially when the accident involves a large truck. Premises liability accidents can also lead to wrongful death claims if a property owner’s failure to maintain his or her property in good working condition or to provide appropriate warnings leads to a death. Fatalities can also result from medical malpractice and defective products.

Although the wrongful death claim must be brought by the administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate, the decedent’s surviving loved ones can seek compensation for certain categories of damages. A surviving spouse or family member can seek compensation for the lost value of the deceased’s income over the reminder of his or her lifetime, in addition to the loss of the decedent’s care, companionship, and comfort. Funeral and burial expenses are also compensable in a wrongful death claim. If the court finds that the defendant engaged in wanton, reckless, or malicious conduct, punitive damages can also be awarded. This category of damages is intended to punish defendants for egregious behavior while discouraging others from acting in a similar fashion.

Wrongful Death Lawyer Helping Families in Boston

Navigating the legal process and bringing a lawsuit can seem incredibly stressful in the face of mourning the sudden loss of a loved one. At The Law Office of Barry Feinstein and Affiliates P.C., our dedicated team of legal professionals can help you understand what a wrongful death claim actually is, and seek the compensation that you may be entitled to with the help of a knowledgeable attorney. We represent individuals and the families of individuals who have been seriously injured or killed as the result of other people’s careless conduct in a broad range of cases. We are available to serve clients in areas around Boston, Cambridge, Waltham, Lowell, Somerville, Newton, Dedham, Norwood, Quincy, Brookline, and Peabody, and we offer a free consultation. Call us at  (800) 262-9200 or contact us online to set up your appointment.

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