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Understanding the Right to Sue Over a Family Member’s Wrongful Death

In the tragic event of a loved one’s death caused by another person’s negligence, surviving family members may be compensated through a wrongful death action. This legal remedy holds the other person accountable and provides some financial security to those impacted by the loss. A wrongful death action also seeks to recover damages that the victim could have recovered had they survived the accident.

A wrongful death claim can arise when one person dies due to the legal fault of another person or entity. Massachusetts law defines “wrongful death” as a death caused by negligence, a “willful, wanton, or reckless act,” or breach of warranty. Negligence can take many forms, such as car accidents, medical malpractice, or defective products.

The ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit, known as standing, is restricted to specific individuals. In Massachusetts, the action is brought by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate, namely the executor or administrator. However, the damages recovered are distributed to designated beneficiaries, namely the victim’s:

  • Spouse — A surviving spouse has the first right to recover compensation.
  • Children — If no spouse exists, the deceased’s minor or dependent children are entitled to the damages.
  • Next of kin — In the absence of a spouse or children, the deceased’s parents, siblings, or other close relatives may be eligible.

Massachusetts law outlines specific types of damages recoverable in a wrongful death action. Here is a summary of the key categories:

  • Loss of financial support — This includes income the deceased would have likely earned in the future, as well as the value of household services they provided, such as child care or home maintenance.
  • Loss of companionship — This encompasses the emotional pain and suffering endured by the beneficiaries due to the loss of companionship, guidance and love from the deceased.
  • Loss of decedent’s society — This compensates for the loss of the deceased’s companionship, protection and enjoyment of life.
  • Medical and funeral expenses — Reimbursement for reasonable medical bills incurred before death and the costs associated with the funeral and burial.

In rare cases, where the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious, involving malice, wantonness, or reckless disregard for human life, punitive damages may be awarded. These are intended to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.

Wrongful death cases can be complex and challenging. An experienced Massachusetts wrongful death attorney can guide you through the legal process, navigate complex legal issues, gather evidence, and fight for the compensation you deserve. They can also provide invaluable support and understanding during this difficult time.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to negligence, whether in the Boston area or throughout Massachusetts, the attorneys at Feinberg & Alban PC may be able to help you obtain fair and just compensation. Call us at 617-232-5950 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation. 

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    Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.

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