It is a common misconception that when criminal charges are filed against an individual for an accident a civil lawsuit cannot be filed too. In an instance of wrongful death—where an individual is responsible for the wrongful death of another—criminal charges are often initiated by law enforcement if drinking or other substances played a role. However, families can also financially recover in these cases by filing a wrongful death lawsuit too. Every state has different requirements for a wrongful death lawsuit, and Massachusetts is no exception.
Recently in Leominster, there was a multiple-vehicle crash in the breakdown lane. One individual was changing the tire on his vehicle when another man drifted into the breakdown lane and struck the rear of the first car. The man changing the tire was also hit and sustained fatal injuries. The driver of the other vehicle was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. State police indicate the crash remains under investigation.
A person can legally be held liable for another’s wrongful death under two circumstances: (1) if the person’s negligence causes the death of another; or (2) if they willfully or recklessly acted and this act caused the death of another. Massachusetts courts use a standard utilized in many other states to determine if a lawsuit can be brought: the defendant can be held liable if the deceased could have recovered damages for the personal injuries if he had not died.
If the wrongful death lawsuit is successful, the defendant will be forced to pay monetary damages. These damages include the value of the deceased’s income, companionship, comfort, and counsel to loved ones—along with reasonable funeral expenses. Because putting a value on a person’s companionship, comfort, and love to their family is extremely difficult, the amount of damages widely varies depending on the case itself.
However, unlike many other states—where the deceased’s family members can file the lawsuit—in Massachusetts, only the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate can bring a lawsuit. However, this does not mean the executor will receive any damages awarded in the lawsuit. Instead, the damages will go to the next of kin and those named in the deceased’s will. Additionally, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed in court within three years of the person’s passing. This means if the executor does not file the lawsuit within this time period, they are ineligible from bringing a lawsuit at any point in the future.
Because the wrongful death claim requirements are different in Massachusetts than in many other states, individuals thinking of pursuing a claim should discuss their case with an attorney.
Contact a Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney
If a loved one has recently been killed in a Massachusetts car accident, contact the Neumann Law Group. With years of experience handling wrongful death lawsuits, our knowledgeable attorneys will answer any questions you may have while handling your case through the entire legal process. We provide the respect, kindness, and dedication that all clients deserve while fighting for the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, no-commitment consultation, contact us at 800-525-6386 today.