Losing a loved one is always difficult no matter what the circumstances. A sudden, unexpected and wrongful death from an accident or other unforeseen causes can lead to devastation in families. Picking up the pieces after the funeral can be confusing. You may not be sure what you need to do or who to talk to once everything is all over.
A wrongful death can happen anytime, as these accidents did in 2016:
- Two people die in Nashua after a car burst into flames on Circumferential Highway, fell 40 feet down and landed on a railroad bed
- A motorcyclist died on Route 101 in Bedford after colliding with a vehicle driven by an elderly man
- In the Sumner Tunnel, a man from Salem died and another was injured in a crash
If your loved one died as a result of another’s negligence or transgression, you may be able to sue for compensation. The right New Hampshire lawyer can guide you through the process and work with you to take care of yourself and your family after it’s all over.
What Is A “Wrongful Death?”
The term includes a wide range of injuries that lead to an untimely death, including:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Exposure to hazardous materials (i.e., asbestos, chemicals) on the job
- Workplace accidents
- Defective products (medical, household, automobiles, etc.)
- Death from catastrophic injuries suffered in a slip-and-fall accident
- Other negligence causing an incident that resulted in someone’s untimely death.
Wrongful death is a civil matter, not a criminal one. New Hampshire uses the “preponderance of the evidence” standard to decide civil cases. (A criminal charge, like manslaughter, is filed in criminal court by a prosecuting attorney.) You can file a lawsuit against the responsible parties to recover compensation.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
New Hampshire allows anyone “any person interested in the estate of a deceased” to file a wrongful death lawsuit. New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 556:19 indicates that anyone with a legal interest in the deceased’s estate is allowed to file a claim to protect their own interests. This may not just be family members or administrators of the decedent’s estate, but anyone. (Other states restrict the claims to family members or executors.)
People who file a wrongful death claim in New Hampshire are typically:
- Surviving spouses
- Children, including adopted, and parents of unmarried children
- Anyone financially dependent on the decedent (domestic or life partners, etc.)
Wrongful death is a personal injury suit filed on behalf of a deceased individual. Just as if the deceased were filing their own suit, a wrongful death suit can include damages for:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Other accident-related expenses
Additionally, a surviving family member can include in their lawsuit:
- Loss of companionship
- Financial support the deceased would have earned during the remainder of his or her lifetime
- Funeral/burial expenses
- Other expenses incurred as a result of the accident
Six Year Statute Of Limitations
Standard personal injury cases have a three-year time frame. But New Hampshire allows six years from the date of the deceased death to file a wrongful death lawsuit against another party. After the six years the case will no longer be heard.
If you’re considering filing a wrongful death suit, it’s imperative to act quickly. Even though six years is a long time, court filings, discovery, document gathering and other parts of a lawsuit may take some time. Contact an experienced attorney as soon as you’re ready to start the process.
We’re Here To Help
At Cohen & Winters, we will work to help you through this difficult time. We’ll handle your case with the respect and care your loved one deserves. When you meet with us, we’ll explain what we can do and how we can help. We keep you informed of your case’s progress. Call us today at 603-224-6999 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. We serve clients in throughout New Hampshire and we’re ready to work with you.