Every death affects not just the victim but also their close friends and family. However, the simple fact that a person has passed away does not mean that family members can demand compensation. State law strictly defines the concept of a wrongful death and outlines the payments that affected family members can receive.
If a member of your family has recently passed away and you believe that this tragic event was caused by the actions of another person or company, a Portland wrongful death lawyer may be able to help. Our focused personal injury attorneys work with families to explain the concept of wrongful death under the law, explore the facts that led to the incident, measure how that event has affected people, and demand that liable parties provide appropriate compensation.
When Does State Law Consider a Death to be Wrongful?
Deaths can occur for many reasons and under a variety of circumstances. However, the law considers a deaths to be avoidable when it is the direct consequence of the behavior of others. This can include both accidental deaths and those that result from acts of violence.
Maine Probate Code § 2-807 provides the legal definition of a wrongful death and when another party may be legally responsible. It says that whenever a death is the result of a wrongful act, default, or act of negligence in a way that would have entitled the victim to pursue a personal injury lawsuit had they survived the incident, a wrongful death case is appropriate. This means that a case may follow a:
- Truck, car, or motorcycle accident
- Defective product that causes harm
- Medical malpractice
- Premises liability cases, like slip and falls
A Portland wrongful death attorney can provide more information about what it means for a death to be wrongful. They can then get to work gathering evidence that points towards another party being responsible for the incident.
Special Legal Concepts That Apply to Wrongful Death Cases
Proving fault in a wrongful death case is similar to proving fault in cases that allege personal injury. However, there are important differences to recognize that may have an affect in achieving a successful case.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In personal injury cases, the affected person has the sole authority to demand compensation for their losses. Of course, this is impossible in the event of a death. Instead, only the personal representative of a decedent’s estate has the authority to demand these payments in court. In addition, the purpose of the case is to collect compensation for the decedent’s surviving family members.
Is There a Limit on Compensation?
State law creates a limit on certain types of wrongful death compensation. People seeking payments can collect unlimited compensation for their economic losses, which include medical bills and funeral costs, as well as for pre-death pain and suffering. There are no caps on these categories of damages. However, there is a maximum cap of $1,000,000 on compensation for the loss of comfort and companionship that family members are experiencing. Furthermore, the same law places a cap of $500,000 on payments for punitive damages that punish especially violent or reckless behavior. Talking with a Portland wrongful death lawyer could help individuals to better understand the special rules that apply to these cases.
Reach Out to a Portland Wrongful Death Attorney Today
An unexpected death will throw a family into chaos. Not only will they need to make immediate arrangements for a funeral and burial, but the event could also come with harsh economic and emotional consequences. If another person or entity was responsible for the death through their negligence, they have an obligation under the law to provide fair compensation.
A Portland wrongful death lawyer can help you collect these payments. We are prepared to take every needed step to protect your family’s legal rights and seek out justice for the deceased. Contact us now to set up a consultation.