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What is the Legal Definition of Wrongful Death in Nevada?

In Nevada, a wrongful death claim allows certain family members to sue for damages when a loved one is killed due to the negligent or intentional actions of another person or entity. This article provides an overview of Nevada’s wrongful death laws, the elements that must be proven, who can file a claim, damages that may be recovered, time limits for filing, and more.

What is the Legal Definition of Wrongful Death in Nevada?

Under Nevada law, a wrongful death claim arises when the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person or entity. The wrongful act must be of such a nature that the decedent would have been able to sue and recover damages for their injuries and losses if death had not ensued.

Nevada’s wrongful death statute (NRS 41.085) allows specified family members and dependents of the deceased to bring a civil action against the party responsible for the death. To successfully prove a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must establish four key elements:

  • The defendant’s wrongful act, neglect, or default caused the death
  • The wrongful conduct would have entitled the decedent to bring and maintain an action for damages if death had not occurred
  • The plaintiffs bringing the wrongful death suit have suffered damages as a result of the death
  • There is a causal link between the wrongful conduct and the death

Some common scenarios that may give rise to a wrongful death claim include:

  • Deaths caused by medical malpractice
  • Fatal car, truck, or motorcycle accidents
  • Workplace deaths due to unsafe conditions
  • Deaths caused by dangerous or defective products
  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Nursing home abuse or neglect

It is wise to hire a Las Vegas wrongful death attorney to help guide you through the process.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Nevada?

Nevada law specifies which family members have legal standing to sue for wrongful death. The list of possible plaintiffs includes:

  • Spouse
  • Children and stepchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Any person entitled to inherit the decedent’s property under Nevada’s inheritance laws

If the decedent has no surviving spouse, children, or parents, a wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by the decedent’s siblings or by anyone entitled to inherit property under the laws of intestacy.

The executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate may also be able to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the beneficiaries.

Elements That Must Be Proven

To recover damages in a Nevada wrongful death claim, the survivors must prove the following legal elements:

1. Wrongful act, neglect, or default of the defendant

The plaintiffs must prove that the defendant engaged in some form of wrongful conduct, negligence, or failure to act that caused the death. Even a slight breach of duty owed to the decedent that results in death can provide grounds for a claim.

2. Liability in absence of death

The plaintiffs must establish that the decedent would have had a valid claim for damages against the defendant if death had not occurred. Essentially, they must show that the defendant would be legally liable for injuries and damages if the victim had survived.

3. Causation

There must be a causal connection between the defendant’s conduct and the death. The plaintiffs must show that the defendant’s negligent or intentional actions directly led to the death of their loved one.

4. Damages

The survivors must demonstrate quantifiable monetary losses suffered as a result of the death, such as funeral expenses, lost financial support, lost services, lost inheritance funds, and loss of companionship. Plaintiffs may also seek punitive damages in egregious cases.

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim

Under Nevada law, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years from the date of injury resulting in death. However, there are some exceptions that can extend this time limit:

  • If the defendant left Nevada, the time limit may be tolled until they return to the state
  • The deadline may be extended for minors until they reach age 18
  • If fraud or intentional concealment of evidence is involved, the statute of limitations may be tolled

It’s critical to consult a knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer Las Vegas to ensure your claim is filed on time. They can help determine if any exceptions apply in your case.

Categories of Damages Available

In a successful Nevada wrongful death lawsuit, the decedent’s survivors may recover both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages compensate the plaintiffs for tangible monetary losses, which may include:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of financial support the decedent would have contributed to the family
  • Loss of gifts, benefits, and inheritance
  • Loss of household services the deceased would have provided, like cooking and cleaning
  • Loss of companionship and guidance to any minor children

Non-economic damages are intended to compensate for more intangible losses, such as:

  • Loss of companionship, comfort, society, consortium, etc.
  • Mental anguish, grief, sorrow
  • Pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death

In appropriate cases where the defendant’s actions are found to be willful, oppressive, or malicious, the jury may also award punitive damages as a means of punishing the defendant.

Special Damages for Minors and Parents

If the decedent has minor children, the wrongful death award may include compensation for loss of parental companionship, instruction, guidance, and damages related to their emotional well-being. Parents who lose a child may also recover special damages related to loss of companionship and society.

Speak with a Wrongful Death Attorney Before Filing

The skilled wrongful death attorneys at the Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys law firm have extensive experience representing Nevada families who have lost loved ones due to another party’s negligence or wrongful actions. We know this is an enormously difficult time, and we will handle your claim with compassion while tirelessly pursuing maximum compensation for your losses.

To discuss your case in a free, no-obligation consultation, contact our offices in Las Vegas today at (800) 4-THEWIN. There are no upfront costs, and we collect no fee unless we secure compensation on your behalf. Let us put our 65+ years of combined legal experience to work helping you and your family obtain justice after your tragic loss.

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