Everything You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Settlements in Nevada

wrongful death settlements

The loss of a loved one is emotionally devastating, especially when someone else’s negligence or wrongful act caused the death. Many surviving family members want to hold the negligent party accountable and understand their legal rights during this challenging time.

The law in Nevada allows some parties to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit to recover special damages and other losses.

In this blog, our personal injury attorneys will walk you through everything you need to know about Nevada wrongful death settlements, from filing a claim to the factors that can impact your settlement amount.

What is a Nevada Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a type of legal action brought by the surviving family members of a person who died due to another party’s carelessness, recklessness, or intentional act.

Under Nevada’s wrongful death statute (NRS 41.085), a wrongful death occurs when a person or entity causes another person’s death by a wrongful act or negligence.

Wrongful death claims in Nevada can arise from a wide range of incidents, including but not limited to:

  • Motor vehicle accidents (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.)
  • Medical malpractice
  • Defective products
  • Workplace accidents
  • Premises liability (slip and fall accidents)
  • Criminal acts (assault, battery, etc.)

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Nevada?

Only the following individuals may be able to file a Nevada wrongful death claim:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children of the deceased (including adopted children and adult children)
  • Parents of the deceased
  • The deceased’s personal representative (on behalf of the estate and any survivors)

If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, then any blood relative or adoptive sibling who is partly or wholly dependent on the deceased for support or services may also be able to file a claim.

Proving Liability in a Nevada Wrongful Death Case

You must prove that the defendant’s negligence or wrongful act caused your loved one’s death to succeed in a wrongful death claim.

The law defines negligence as the failure to exercise the level of care that a reasonably prudent person would use under similar circumstances.

To establish this liability, you’ll need to demonstrate the following elements:

  1. Duty of care: The defendant owed a legal duty to the deceased to act with reasonable care and avoid causing harm.
  2. Breach of duty: The defendant breached this duty by acting negligently, recklessly, or wrongfully.
  3. Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty directly and approximately caused the deceased’s death.
  4. Damages: The death resulted in quantifiable damages to the deceased’s estate and surviving family members.

Evidence is vital when proving liability in a wrongful death case. Examples of proof that you may use to support your claim include:

  • Police reports and accident scene photos.
  • Witness statements and testimony.
  • Medical records, autopsy reports, and expert medical opinions.
  • Physical evidence (e.g., damaged vehicles, defective products).
  • Video footage (e.g., surveillance cameras, dashcam videos).
  • Expert testimony (e.g., accident reconstruction specialists, engineers).

Your wrongful death attorney will gather and present compelling evidence and testimony to build a strong case on your behalf.

Damages Available in Wrongful Death Cases

Surviving family members bringing wrongful death litigation may be entitled to recover two damages types: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages are quantifiable financial losses that result from the deceased’s death, such as:

  • Medical expenses related to the deceased’s final injury or illness.
  • Funeral and burial costs.
  • Lost wages and benefits the deceased would have earned had they lived.
  • Loss of services, support, and inheritance.

Non-economic damages are intangible losses that are more difficult to quantify, such as:

  • Pain and suffering endured by the deceased before their death.
  • Loss of the deceased’s companionship, guidance, and protection.
  • Mental and emotional pain and suffering experienced by surviving family members.

In some cases, punitive damages are available when the defendant’s conduct was reckless or intentional.

When calculating damages, the court will consider several factors, like the deceased’s age, earning capacity, life expectancy, and role in the family, as well as the severity of the surviving family members’ emotional trauma and loss of support.

Survival Action vs. Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In addition to a wrongful death lawsuit, Nevada law allows the personal representative of the deceased’s estate to file a survival action.

Under the Nevada survival statute (NRS 41.100):

“… when a person who has a cause of action dies before judgment, the damages recoverable by the decedent’s executor or administrator include all losses or damages which the decedent incurred or sustained before the decedent’s death, including any penalties or punitive and exemplary damages which the decedent would have recovered if the decedent had lived, and damages for pain, suffering or disfigurement and loss of probable support, companionship, society, comfort and consortium. This subsection does not apply to the cause of action of a decedent brought by the decedent’s personal representatives for the decedent’s wrongful death.”

In other words, while a wrongful death lawsuit seeks damages on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family members, a survival action seeks damages the deceased persons could have pursued had they survived their injuries.

Survival action damages may include:

  • Medical expenses related to the deceased’s final injury or illness.
  • Lost wages from the time of injury until death.
  • Pain and suffering endured by the deceased before their death.

A personal representative may also file both a survival action and a wrongful death lawsuit simultaneously, seeking compensation for the estate and the surviving family members.

Wrongful Death Settlement Process

The wrongful death claims process typically involves several key steps:

  1. Investigating the incident and gathering evidence to support your claim.
  2. Filing a wrongful death claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
  3. Engaging in settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
  4. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit and preparing for trial when parties cannot reach a fair settlement.

During settlement negotiations, your personal injury lawyer will present evidence of liability and damages to the insurance company and work to secure a fair settlement offer.

However, if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement during negotiations, your legal counsel may advise you to file a wrongful death lawsuit and take your case to trial.

However, even after you file a lawsuit, settlement negotiations can continue, and many Nevada family survivors resolve their cases before trial.

Who Receives the Wrongful Death Settlement in Nevada?

In the state of Nevada, wrongful death settlements and awards are distributed among the surviving family members according to the Nevada wrongful death statute.

The specifics of who gets what portion depends on the familial relationships involved, but generally, the compensation goes to:

  • The deceased person’s spouse
  • Any children of the deceased (including adopted children)
  • Parents of the deceased (if there is no surviving spouse or child)

The damages are meant to compensate the surviving family members who had a legal right to financial support and services from the deceased. This can include loss of income, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, and more.

Factors That Affect Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts

The amount of a wrongful death settlement can vary widely depending on the unique circumstances of each case.

Some circumstances that can impact settlement amounts include:

  • Strength of the evidence proving liability.
  • Extent of the deceased’s economic and non-economic damages.
  • At-fault party’s insurance policy limits.
  • Presence of comparative negligence (if the deceased’s actions contributed to their death).
  • Skill and experience of the wrongful death attorney representing the surviving family members.

It’s important to note that while some wrongful death cases may settle for millions of dollars, others may pay much less.

An experienced wrongful death law firm can evaluate the specifics of your case and provide a realistic estimate of its potential value.

The Benefits of Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney

Taking on a wrongful death claim or lawsuit alone can be overwhelming, especially while grieving the loss of a loved one.

Hiring a skilled and compassionate personal injury attorney who specializes in wrongful death claims can provide numerous benefits, such as:

  • Investigating the incident and gathering crucial evidence to support your claim.
  • Identifying all potential sources of compensation, including insurance policies and personal assets.
  • Handling all communication with insurance companies and other parties on your behalf.
  • Negotiating aggressively to secure the highest possible settlement offer.
  • Preparing your case for trial when parties cannot reach a fair settlement.
  • Providing guidance and support throughout the legal process.

Most personal injury law firms work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only receive a fee if they successfully recover compensation for you.

This arrangement allows you to pursue justice without upfront legal costs and motivates your attorney to secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Get Justice for Your Loved One’s Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act is an unimaginable tragedy. While no amount of money can truly compensate for your loss, a wrongful death settlement can help ease the financial burden and provide a sense of justice and accountability.

Remember, you don’t have to face this challenge alone – an experienced wrongful death attorney can guide you through the process, fight for your interests, and help you secure the compensation you and your family deserve.

Contact Benjamin Durham Law Firm for a free consultation and case evaluation if you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Author Bio

Benjamin Durham is the principal attorney and founder of Benjamin Durham Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm based in Las Vegas, NV. With over 20 years of experience in the legal field, he represents clients in both injury and criminal cases. Over his career, he has secured favorable verdicts for clients in both state and federal courts and successfully defended numerous high-profile prosecutions.

Ben’s exceptional legal skills and dedication to his clients have earned him recognition as a life member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He also has been honored as one of the Top 100 trial lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers Association, further solidifying his reputation as a top-notch legal practitioner.

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