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Wrongful Death

Wrongful DeathAs Boston wrongful death lawyers, our firm is committed to obtaining full and fair compensation for the decedent’s surviving family members. We aggressively pursue all available people and companies that had a role in causing the decedent to die.

Nothing can be more devastating than suddenly losing a loved one. Frequently these tragic losses are the result of a person or company’s negligence, which means they can be sued and held liable for all losses and damages the death caused.

We hold whomever is responsible by thoroughly investigating the case to find out what exactly happened, and identifying who is legally responsible, and why, and all damages that are available to the decedent’s loved ones.

What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death is the taking of a life through negligence or willful misconduct. These are civil claims and lawsuits intended to obtain full and fair financial compensation from a person or company that  negligently caused the death.

They are designed to recover financial compensation to the survivor’s family. This compensation is based on all losses, financial and otherwise, that the death caused to the decedent, and his/her family.

Who Can File a Massachusetts Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The wrongful death statute in Massachusetts allows for either the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate to file the lawsuit. The executor is named in the decedent’s previously made will.

The administrator is appointed by a Massachusetts Probate Court when there is no will. These individuals are two types of personal representatives.

The case can be brought on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, or parents. The party bringing the lawsuit is the plaintiff and the one being sued for damages is the defendant.

These cases are filed in Superior Court. It is wise to have legal representation since these cases can be confusing and difficult.

They can be very complicated as there are frequently many parties involved in these cases. It can take years between the date the lawsuit is filed until an actual trial.

What Does the Litigation Process Involve?

If the case does not settle then a lawsuit needs to be filed. The lawsuit is started with the filing of a complaint. Once service of the complaint is made upon the defendants, an answer will be filed by their attorneys.

During the litigation of these cases the discovery phase involves the exchange of interrogatories and requests for production of documents between the parties.

Also, depositions are taken of the parties, witnesses, experts. A pre-trial conference is held, as well as various pre trial motions. At times, these cases do settle prior to trial.

What Damages are Recoverable?

These type of lawsuits are civil lawsuits, rather than criminal prosecutions that are brought by the state. Civil wrongful death lawsuits are intended to recover financial damages against the responsible party. On the other hand, criminal prosecutions are focused on judicial proceedings against the accused for an alleged crime.

Some of the damages that can be pursued by the personal representative and the decedent’s family in wrongful death cases are:

  • Loss of future financial support
  • Loss of companionship
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Punitive damages (in specific situations only such as reckless or malicious conduct)
How are These Claims Investigated and Prosecuted?

The first step for a lawyer handling these claims is to collect all medical records pertaining to the decedent’s death. During this time, all witness statements should be secured, as well as identification of all available parties.

Next, claims are presented to the insurance companies that insure the people or companies involved in the decedent’s passing. Upon receiving the claim, the insurance company will conduct its investigation. They will deploy adjusters and investigators to determine their possible exposure should the matter be tried to verdict.

A demand package is usually submitted by the attorney(s) in hopes of settling the case. If the insurance claim does not settle, then a wrongful death lawsuit is brought to hold whomever is responsible liable in a court of law.

Generally, for cases in which the liability is strong, and the policy limit is modest, the case can resolve rather speedily without the need of a lawsuit.

What are Some Common Causes of Wrongful Death?

Of course not every death gives rise to a wrongful death case. In order for there to be a case to pursue, it must be shown that negligence was what brought upon the death. If the death was merely an unfortunate event, not due to negligence, then a wrongful death claim will not be viable.

For cases that are viable, there are various potential causes of negligently caused wrongful death. Here are some common types:

Massachusetts Workers Compensation and Third-Party Claims

If an employee loses his life at work, the estate of the decedent cannot sue the employer. What can be filed though is a workers compensation claim by the family of the deceased worker for survivor benefits. However, the employee can file a third-party lawsuit if a person or company not affiliated with the employer caused the wrongful death. Unlike a workers compensation case, this would be a case of negligence against whomever was responsible for the wrongful death.

Who Can Be Held Liable?

There are many possible parties that can be held responsible. Here are some of them:

  • Motor vehicle operators
  • Homeowners
  • Property owners
  • Bars and nightclubs that over-serve
  • Doctors, and other medical providers
  • Construction contractors and subcontractors
  • Truck accident companies
  • Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
  • Daycare center
  • Nursing home facilities
  • Cities and towns
  • Product designers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers
  • Third-parties that cause workers compensation deaths
What is the Statute of Limitations for Massachusetts Wrongful Death Claims?

A wrongful death case, like most personal injury cases in Massachusetts, must be filed in court within three years of the date of death. However, with these cases, it is advisable to not delay in bringing a case. The reason is that important evidence can be lost. Additionally, witnesses can disappear with the passage of time.

We are Boston, MA Wrongful Death Attorneys That Can Help You

This process can be long, confusing, and hard to go through when you don’t have legal representation. Don’t go through this process alone. Hire us to fight for the losses the passing of your loved one caused. We are compassionate and determined to get each and every one of our clients a full cup of justice.

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"Very professional team. They took care of us and the case, keep us informed all time about the updates in the case. We highly recommend Chris Earley and his team. They really know the value of their clients. Thanks." Claudia T.