A wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim where a victim loses their life. Of course, the victim cannot personally benefit from the claim, so it benefits surviving family. Which family members qualify? Who can bring a wrongful death claim?
Our Las Vegas wrongful death lawyers explain.
Who may file a wrongful death claim in Las Vegas?
In Las Vegas, the personal representative and the victim’s heirs can file a wrongful death claim. Heirs are the people who would have been beneficiaries if the defendant had died intestate.
In other words, the personal representative and close surviving family members can bring a wrongful death claim.
Who are heirs for the purposes of filing a wrongful death claim?
Who qualifies as an heir for the purposes of filing a wrongful death claim depends on who survives the victim:
- If the victim is married: their spouse and children
- If the victim is not married: their children
- If the victim has no spouse or children: parents, then siblings, then the next closest surviving family member
Generally, the victim’s spouse and children may bring a wrongful death claim. If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the next closest relative may bring the claim – first parents, then siblings, and then the next closest family member. The personal representative of the victim’s estate also qualifies to file a wrongful death action on behalf of the estate.
What is the law for who can file wrongful death in Las Vegas?
Nevada Revised Statutes § 41.085 states who can file for wrongful death in Las Vegas.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim on Behalf of Survivors
Once you have identified the parties who can file a wrongful death claim, the next question is how to file a claim and what to claim on behalf of each party.
The Decedent’s Estate
The personal representative brings the claim on behalf of the estate. They may claim medical expenses incurred before death and funeral expenses. They may also ask for punitive damages if they would have been available if the victim had lived. The estate may not claim pain, suffering, or disfigurement of the victim. Damages awarded to the estate are subject to the decedent’s debts unless another law exempts them.
Family members may claim the following in wrongful death compensation:
- Loss of support and earning capacity
- Employment benefits and perks
- Companionship, society, comfort, and consortium
- Pain and suffering of the victim
- Disfigurement of the victim
Does the estate have to bring their wrongful death claim with surviving family members?
Under Nevada wrongful death law, the case brought by the heirs and the case brought by the personal representative may be joined.
See N.R.S. § 41.085(3)
Do all family members have to file a wrongful death claim together in Las Vegas?
Nevada’s wrongful death law says that the heirs of the decedent may file an action. Claims separately filed are likely to be joined together. Even so, you can, with your lawyer, explain to the court what your personal damages are because of the loss of your loved one.
See § 41.085(4), which says that each heir may prove their respective damages resulting from the loss. The court or jury may make an appropriate award for each person. Amounts awarded to surviving heirs are not subject to the debts of the decedent.
It can be hard to work with and agree with family members at a time when you are all grieving the loss of a loved one. Rest assured that our lawyers can help. We can make sure that your individual rights are protected. Our consultations are confidential, and we invite you to learn more about your situation and how we may be able to help.
Parties Excluded from Filing Wrongful Death in Las Vegas
Can a stepchild file a wrongful death claim in Las Vegas?
A stepchild cannot file a wrongful death claim in Las Vegas unless they have been formally adopted.
Can foster children get wrongful death compensation?
Foster children do not qualify for wrongful death compensation in Las Vegas even if they depended on the victim for support.
Can a best friend file a wrongful death claim in Las Vegas?
No, close friends cannot be beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim in Las Vegas.
Is a fiancé a beneficiary of wrongful death in Las Vegas?
No, a fiancé is not a wrongful death beneficiary in Las Vegas.
Are aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews wrongful death beneficiaries in Las Vegas?
Aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews cannot benefit from a wrongful death claim in Las Vegas unless there are no closer surviving family members and they are next of kin.
Is someone disqualified if they are responsible for the victim’s death?
Disqualification depends upon the individual’s culpability. A person who feloniously and intentionally killed the decedent is as a killer who is prohibited from recovering from the victim’s death and is treated as having predeceased the decedent. However, where the person is not a killer and the death was an accident, it may be possible for the person to receive wrongful death compensation.
What if the victim left things to other people in a will?
Even if the victim named others as beneficiaries in their will, the close family members named in Nevada law are the ones who file the wrongful death claim.
Consultation about Who May File Wrongful Death
If you have questions about whether you may file a wrongful death claim, we invite you to contact our lawyers for a confidential consultation about your case. We know that unexpectedly losing a loved one is an excruciating event.
Our accident injury lawyers are here to represent your interests and fight for justice. We investigate to determine who is qualified to bring the claim. Then, we set to work pursuing your interests and developing a legal strategy that is unique to your case.
Taking New Cases
At Nevada Accident Injury Lawyers, we have a wealth of experience and knowledge representing accident victims. We understand the complex issues that may be present when there are multiple heirs. We are dedicated to investigating thoroughly and fully pursuing your rights of the law.
We are taking new cases. Helping our clients will always be our top priority. So let us represent you.
Do not wait to contact our team. We represent individuals and families in wrongful death claims. Begin your case with a consultation with our legal team. Call or send us a message today.