When someone is seriously injured by another person’s negligence, they have the right to get money to compensate them for all of the aggravation and challenges they experienced through no fault of their own. The injured person seeks compensation through a personal injury claim.
But what happens when the victim dies? The grieving family is left dealing with funeral costs, significantly reduced household income if the deceased was a wage-earner, and, if the injury didn’t result in instant death, often extensive medical bills. Is the at-fault party ever held responsible for the emotional and financial costs related to the death?
Absolutely. This is where wrongful death claims come into play.
Wrongful death claims in Massachusetts are much like personal injury claims in that the at-fault party pays the damages caused by their negligence. However, the types of damages and the parties to whom those damages are paid differ from those in personal injury claims.
So, you might be tempted to think of wrongful death claims as supercharged personal injury claims, but in reality, there are key differences between these two case types.
Before we look at those differences, let’s look at what they have in common.
The Overlap Between Wrongful Death and Personal Injury
Negligence matters. In personal injury claims, the injured person alleges that another person or party was negligent, and that negligence led to their injuries. In wrongful death claims, the at-fault party’s negligence is also a central issue.
Damages are awarded. Just as they are in personal injury claims, economic, non-economic, and punitive damages can be awarded, even if those damages aren’t exactly the same.
The statute of limitations is the same. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations—the period after the injury or death when a claim can be filed, is three years under most circumstances.
Key Differences Between Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Claims
An estate administrator or executor files wrongful death claims. In personal injury claims, the injured person files a claim against the at-fault party. In Massachusetts, the executor or administrator of the deceased files the claim against the at-fault party.
The damages differ slightly. In personal injury claims, damages typically include past and future medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering. In a wrongful death claim, damages can include loss of companionship, loss of future earnings, and burial and funeral expenses.
The stakes are often much higher. Personal injury claims can involve relatively minor injuries or very severe ones. In wrongful death claims, the injury was fatal, so the damages and emotions associated with these cases are often much higher than in smaller personal injury cases.
Additionally, surviving family members might have depended on income earned by the deceased, so the compensation awarded through a wrongful death claim can be the difference between a family that’s left destitute after the accident and one that has the resources they need to get by.
If You Need Legal Help, You Better Phone Stone
Wrongful death cases are just as consequential as any non-fatal injury case, if not more so. Families count on compensation to navigate life without their loved one, so it’s important to make sure a wrongful death case is handled by an experienced attorney.
If you’re looking for a wrongful death attorney in Boston, make sure you find one with experience handling these claims. At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we know wrongful death law in Massachusetts, and we fight to help grieving family members get the compensation they’re entitled to.
If your loved one died in accident caused by someone else’s negligence, we’re here to help. Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation with our team.