What You Should Know When Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

If a loved one died because of an accident or other event that was someone else’s fault, you might want to consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for your family’s loss.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death action is a lawsuit filed by the surviving beneficiary of a deceased person, seeking to recover for financial and emotional harm caused by the loss of their loved one. They exist when the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of another causes someone’s death. It is essential to know that Maine law also allows a victim’s survivors to pursue “survival” claims in the name of a deceased person. Survival claims seek damages, including for pain and suffering suffered by the deceased person until their death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In Maine, unlike other states, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed in the name of the estate’s representative or a special administrator.  Proceeds are awarded to the deceased person’s legal beneficiaries (often called “heirs”).  

What Must be Proven in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you and your attorney must prove that:

1. The other party (a person, company, organization, or government entity) owed your loved one a duty of care. For example:

  • Every driver on the road must be reasonably careful to drive safely.
  • A doctor has a duty of care to provide services that meet certain professional standards.
  • A store owner must be reasonably careful to ensure the premises are safe.

2. The other party was negligent because they failed to meet their duty of care or they intentionally caused harm.

3. The other party’s negligent or intentional act was a cause of your loved one’s death.

You and your attorney will also need to gather evidence showing the extent of your losses and expenses for which you seek compensation. Your losses may include the following:

  • Funeral expenses.
  • Your loved one’s medical bills.
  • Your loved one’s lost income.
  • The emotional distress of the survivors.
  • The loss of the affection and companionship of your loved one.  

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

A statute of limitations sets a deadline for when cases must be filed. In Maine, you usually have to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the death of your loved one. You should, however, consult with an attorney long before the deadline. Before filing a wrongful death lawsuit, your attorney will need time to investigate the accident and identify the parties at fault.

How Should I Choose a Personal Injury Attorney?

Choosing the right attorney is a very important step in filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Your attorney should have experience pursuing wrongful death claims and be dedicated to helping their clients achieve justice. They should have a track record that demonstrates success. You should feel comfortable talking with your attorney and confident in their abilities.

The legal team at Garmey Law has extensive experience helping people in Maine get full and fair compensation in their wrongful death lawsuits. Our reputation for excellence extends throughout the state, and we are grateful for the top awards we have won. We are passionate about pursuing justice and representing the underdog.

We would be glad to provide a free consultation and answer all your questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Call us at (207) 481-4683, or contact us through our website to learn more about your legal rights.