The death of a loved one is a terrible tragedy for any family, especially if it’s caused by the actions of another person. First and foremost, allot yourself and your family the proper amount of time to grieve and mourn.
Once you’re ready to approach the legal situation surrounding the deceased, you may find you don’t know where to start; after all, it can be an overwhelming task under the circumstances. While no amount of money will ever replace your loved one, you and your family are due proper compensation from the party responsible. If you believe that your loved one was the victim of wrongful death, either by negligence, irresponsibility, or intentional harm, you will want trusted personal injury lawyers to help you and your family file a civil lawsuit. Since the deceased cannot represent him or herself, a family member will have to pick up the reins and lead the charge. Let’s talk about what you should expect during the process.
Establish your Personal Representative for the decedent
If the deceased has a will, he or she has already officially declared a trustee and beneficiaries. It is likely that the trustee– usually a spouse or close loved one– will also be the personal representative for him or her in the lawsuit; although, you can appoint anyone that you believe will properly represent him or her, as long as they are approved by the court. This is because, in Maine, the personal representative of the plaintiff is the only person who can file a wrongful death case. Having a will also means that there’s already an established estate to inherit the awarded damages in the suit, and thus disperse them to all beneficiaries. If you need to create an estate for the deceased, here is a basic guide to begin that process.
Maine Revised Statutes Title 18, Section 2-807, allows you two years after the date of the death to file a wrongful death case in the court system. In a homicide case, the state grants six years from the date that the personal representative discovers there to be just cause of action against the person who committed the act. Meaning, a civil suit may still be filed for financial restitution even after a criminal lawsuit where the defendant is determined guilty or not guilty.
Save all the medical bills, funeral bills, property damages, and any other expenses accumulated because of the wrongful death. Also, gather the decedent’s recent pay stubs from a job and any other documented sources of income in order to collect for the estate’s future lost revenues. The negligible party will be held liable to repay those pecuniary injuries. Give all of these to your personal injury lawyers to use in your case.
Record and report all emotional distress
Maine state law separates two compensatory damages for the plaintiff, pecuniary and non-pecuniary. Pecuniary damages are all the tangible monetary losses to the estate. Non-pecuniary deals with the intangible damages, such as: loss of companionship or guidance, loss of comfort, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. These damages are capped at $500,000, whereas pecuniary losses have no limit. Maine state law also awards financial restitution if there was conscious suffering of the victim between the injuries and death.
Call a Personal Injury Law Firm
These cases can be very complex and intimidating to attack on your own. You’ll want expert legal advice and assistance from lawyers who have extensive resources and nationwide connections with expert witnesses. Terry Garmey & Associates have combined over 60 years of experience and handle wrongful death cases on a contingency basis– a percentage fee collected if the lawsuit is successful or settled out of court. When you’re their client, they will deeply investigate your claim, guide you through the civil case and fight for your justice. To speak with an attorney and schedule an initial consultation call 207-899-4644.