A Famous Case Study in Wrongful Death
In perhaps the most famous murder trial in history, O.J. Simpson may have avoided criminal conviction in 1995. But it was a different story when his victims’ families filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 1997. In that case, the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were awarded compensatory and punitive damages totaling $33.5 million ($53.4 million in 2019 dollars).
The Simpson case happened in California, but what about Nevada? Do you suspect you have a case for a wrongful death that happened in this state? Continue reading to find out about what is involved with filing a claim, what the Nevada wrongful death statute says, and how a Shook & Stone wrongful death attorney can help with your claim.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death suit is similar to a personal injury case, where it must be proven that a person’s negligent actions caused harm to a victim. In fact, such a case is essentially a personal injury claim. The difference is that the injured person is no longer available to bring his or her own claim into a Nevada court.
Nevada state law (NRS 41.085) stipulates that “when the death of any person, whether or not a minor, is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another, the heirs of the decedent and the personal representatives of the decedent may each maintain an action for damages against the person who caused the death.”
To succeed in a Nevada wrongful death suit, a deceased person’s family must prove that it was negligence or an intentional action that caused the death of their loved one. Under Nevada state law (NRS 41.130), negligence is defined by a few elements that must be proven in court:
- The defendant owed a duty to the injured person or victim
- The defendant’s actions or failure to act led to the victim’s injury
- The victim suffered an injury as a result — or death, in a wrongful death case
When proving negligence, it must be shown that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, that the duty was breached, that the breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of the death, and that the death caused the damages the plaintiff is trying to recover.1
A wrongful death claim is a civil claim, where liability is expressed only in monetary damages. But in Nevada, such a civil case can be filed in tandem with a criminal case, where probation, imprisonment, or other penalty can be imposed.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Nevada law, those eligible to file a wrongful death claim include the surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children of the deceased person. Parents of the deceased person can also file, so long as there is no surviving spouse or child. In a Nevada wrongful death suit, representatives of the deceased person’s estate usually file the claim on behalf of the affected family members.
What Are Some Examples of Wrongful Death?
In Nevada, common examples of wrongful death causes include:
- Road accidents
- Criminal behavior
- Medical malpractice
- A safety lapse during a supervised activity
- Exposure to dangerous substances or conditions while at work
- Product liability
How Long Have I Got to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There is a time limit for filing a wrongful death claim in Nevada. A wrongful death claim must be filed in a Nevada court within two years of the date of the deceased person’s death.
What Can a Family Expect in a Wrongful Death Suit?
Invaluable evidence including medical records, video surveillance, eyewitness testimonies, input from accident reconstruction experts, and other types of written and recorded communication by the defendant can form the backbone of your Nevada case.
In a Nevada wrongful death case, compensation may be awarded in the following three categories:
- Economic compensation: Economic compensation includes any medical expenses the victim incurred before their death, as well as expenses related to funerals, lost wages, and probable future financial support.
- Non-economic compensation: Non-economic compensation covers the emotional damages that a victim’s relatives and loved ones suffered as a result of the victim’s untimely death.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages are not awarded to the affected family. These damages are used by courts in Nevada to reinforce that particularly reckless behavior — particularly when it results in death — will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
You can read more about the three categories of compensation here.
Why Hire an Attorney to Help With Your Wrongful Death Case?
Shook & Stone understands the devastation of losing a loved one. The passing of a family member due to someone else’s negligence can only enhance that pain and trauma. If the death of your family member or loved one was caused by an intentional or negligent act, you may be entitled to compensation.
Our wrongful death attorneys in Las Vegas, Reno, and surrounding areas are experts at supporting clients through tragedies by facilitating, filing, and winning wrongful death claims. Do you believe you have a case for wrongful death? If so, get in touch with Shook & Stone for assistance or call us at (844) 216-0111.