The sudden death of a loved one never feels “right,” but that doesn’t mean every tragic death is legally a “wrongful death.” If you lost a loved one in a vehicle crash or other senseless accident, you need to know if you can do something to hold the person who caused the accident accountable. At the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop, we will examine the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and help you determine if you have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you do, we will be with you every step of the way, fighting for the justice you deserve from the liable party. Learn more about Nebraska’s wrongful death law, who can file a lawsuit, and what compensation you might expect if you are successful.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
In Nebraska, wrongful death is defined as a death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party. If the victim had survived the accident, he or she would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit. Instead, another party must file the claim to protect the interests of the deceased’s estate and the financial interests of the surviving family members. Examples of the kinds of accidents that may justify a wrongful death claim include the following:
- Car, truck, or motorcycle accident when the other driver was drunk, impaired by drugs, or was clearly at fault in another way
- Fall on someone else’s property due to spilled liquids, ice, unsecured cords, torn carpeting, loose handrails, or other dangerous hazards
- Doctor’s or hospital’s mistake in the emergency room, during surgery, or in failing to diagnose a fatal condition
- Malfunctioning ride at an amusement or theme park, county fair, or traveling carnival
- Criminal assault, with or without a weapon
In some cases, such as drunk driving or assault, criminal charges may also be filed against the at-fault party by the prosecutor’s office. While criminal proceedings can affect a wrongful death claim, wrongful death claims are civil cases and are dealt with independently from the criminal case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Nebraska?
In other states, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim, but in Nebraska, the claim must be filed by the legal representative of the deceased’s estate. The legal representative, or executor, is the person named in a will or trust to be in charge of settling the estate upon the person’s death. That person may or may not be a family member, but either way, a wrongful death claim is filed to benefit the surviving family members of the deceased.
Compensation That May Be Awarded in a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death damages are intended to provide compensation for the losses and suffering of the deceased person as well as to make up for the financial losses his or her family will endure because of the death. The following may be recovered in a Nebraska wrongful death lawsuit:
- Medical expenses related to the deceased’s final illness or injury
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased in his or her final moments
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Value of wages and benefits the deceased would have earned if he or she had survived
- Loss of care, companionship, comfort, and guidance of the deceased person
- Value of household services performed by the deceased, such as childcare, cooking, cleaning, maintenance, and repairs
An experienced wrongful death attorney will present evidence to support these claims for compensation, including medical records, invoices, earnings statements, witness testimony, doctor’s notes, and more. The judge or jury will consider several factors when determining damages, including the deceased person’s home life, his or her line of work and salary, the details of the fatal accident, the age of family members, and more.
Handling Your Wrongful Death Claim With Compassion
Attorney Matt Lathrop and his staff understand what you are going through after the tragic loss of a beloved family member. If a wrongful death lawsuit is the right course of action, he will take care of everything, giving you the space to grieve. If you lost a family member in a senseless accident, contact our Omaha office to find out if something can be done to hold the negligent party responsible for your losses. We are here for you.