If you lost a loved one in a tragic car, truck, or work accident, we empathize with your loss. You need time to grieve in peace, but we also understand that you may want to seek compensation from the party responsible for your loved one's untimely passing.
A wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury case; however, the injured party is no longer able to seek compensation on his or her own behalf. Rather, the personal representative will substitute the deceased party to seek compensation for the injuries leading to death.
According to Montana law, "wrongful death" is described as a situation in which "injuries to and the death of one person are caused by a wrongful act or neglect of another." In a wrongful death claim, the personal representative of the deceased individual's estate may bring a wrongful death case to court, seeking damages from the party responsible for the death.
In other words, the interested private partiessuch as the surviving family membersmust bring the claim to court themselves (often with the assistance of an attorney). If the deceased individual is a child under 18 years of age, the wrongful death claim may be filed by either one of the child's parents, or by both parents together.
According to state law, a wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the date of the deceased person's death. If, however, the case stems from a criminal homicide, the time limit is increased to ten years for the filing of a civil claim for wrongful death.
Damages stemming from a wrongful death case are meant to compensate the estate or surviving family members for the loss they suffered due to the deceased person's untimely demise. In Montana, damages from a single wrongful death case may be either/both "economic" or "noneconomic" in nature.
Economic damages need to be established with a concrete dollar amount, typically through the evidence of bills, pay stubs, or receipts. These type of damages include losses such as medical expenses prior to the deceased person's death, funeral and burial expenses, as well as the lost value of the earnings and benefits the deceased individual would likely have made during his or her expected lifespan if the untimely death had not happened.
By contrast, noneconomic damages are more difficult to quantify, but still, qualify as real losses suffered by survivors in a wrongful death claim. They include losses like pain and suffering, loss of care and companionship, and loss of consortium.
In Montana, the defendants in a wrongful death case may request a statement which details the damages that the personal representative is seeking. This statement needs to be made in writing and it must fulfill a variety of requirements.
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