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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

By Our Attorneys on July 14, 2017

A daughter at her parent's graveThe loss of a loved one is always difficult. When that person's death was caused by another person's negligence, it's important to seek legal help. Holding that negligent party accountable for their actions can help you seek justice for your loved one.

The lawyers of Tipp Coburn Schandelson PC have helped countless clients in the Missoula area with personal injury and wrongful death litigation. We'd like to focus on eligibility for filing a wrongful death lawsuit and what other considerations need to be made.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Defined

In basic terms, wrongful death refers to an incident in which a person is injured/harmed and subsequently killed as a result of another person's negligent or wrongful act. This is laid out in Montana Code section 27-1-513. Keep in mind that wrongful death claims are civil cases, meaning that they are filed by individuals; by contrast, criminal case charges are filed by the city, state, or federal government.

During a wrongful death lawsuit, a representative of the deceased person's estate seeks damages from the party responsible for the deceased person's death. These damages will cover funerary costs, loss of wages, loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and so forth.

Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Montana?

As noted above, a personal representative of the deceased person's estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit. This may mean a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, or someone designated as a representative of the estate as noted in a living will.

If the deceased is a child under the age of 18, the parent/parents or legal guardian/guardians may file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Why Are These Restrictions in Place?

By restricting who can file wrongful death lawsuits to very specific relatives or representatives, this prevents others from exploiting the tragedy of a person's death for the sake of financial gain. It ensure that only those close to the deceased may seek just damages for the the loss they have experienced.

The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In addition to restrictions on who may file these kinds of cases, there is a time limit in which to file a legal claim. This is known as a statute of limitations. Once the statute of limitations has passed, you will not be able to file a wrongful death claim.

In the state of Montana, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is three years from the date of the person's death.

Are There Exceptions?

There are some potential exceptions to the above restrictions on who may file a wrongful death lawsuit and the statute of limitations, but these are very rare circumstances. For most people, failure to meet the requirements to file a lawsuit means that no legal action may be pursued.

How a Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help

Wrongful death lawsuits can be complicated and emotionally exhausting. By working with an experienced attorney, your focus can be on mourning and moving forward. Your attorney will be able to handle the complexities of Montana law, and offer expert counsel as your case progresses. This is invaluable guidance and crucial peace of mind in a trying time.

Learn More About Wrongful Death Lawsuits

For more information about your legal rights and options following the loss of a loved one, we encourage you to contact our team of attorneys today. The lawyers of Tipp Coburn Schandelson PC will fight for you every step of the way.

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Missoula Office

2200 Brooks Street
Missoula, MT 59801

Open Today 8:30am - 5:30pm

More Info Directions (406) 549-5186