Losing a loved one is never an easy experience. It can be even more difficult to reckon with if the death was preventable or resulted from someone else’s reckless behavior.

Taking legal action is a way for you and/or your family to hold the responsible parties accountable and recover compensation for the financial consequences of your loss. Speak to a Bangor wrongful death lawyer to learn about your legal options and get the dedicated guidance you need in this trying time. Although nothing can replace the loss of your loved one, an experienced attorney could help your family recover the resources you need to move forward with your lives.

What is a Wrongful Death Action?

A wrongful death lawsuit resembles a personal injury lawsuit that a deceased person could have brought had they lived. If another party’s negligent or criminal act led to a fatal injury, the deceased person’s personal representative could file a wrongful death action.

Criminal vs. Civil Cases for Wrongful Deaths

Sometimes, the individual who caused the wrongful death may face related criminal charges. However, a wrongful death lawsuit is a separate civil action that does not involve a prosecutor or law enforcement. The only punishment a civil court could impose is to force the wrongdoer to pay monetary damages to the bereaved family. A Bangor attorney could explain the impact that criminal proceedings might have on a specific case.

Time Limits for Fatal Accident Lawsuits

One significant difference between a wrongful death lawsuit and a personal injury lawsuit is the applicable statute of limitations. In a personal injury action, the injured person usually has six years to file a civil lawsuit seeking damages. On the other hand, the personal representative must bring a wrongful death action within two years of the decedent’s passing.

Procedures in a Bangor Wrongful Death Action

As a knowledgeable local attorney could explain, there are special legal rules and procedures that apply to wrongful death lawsuits. Maine Revised Statutes §2-807 specifies who may bring these actions and who may benefit from them.

Who May Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

An estate’s personal representative must file the wrongful death lawsuit. The personal representative is often (but not necessarily) a family member. If the deceased person had a valid will, this document names a personal representative to collect and distribute their assets and pay their debts.

If the deceased person died without a will, a court can name a personal representative. A Bangor wrongful death attorney could help a family determine who should be the estate’s personal representative and guide them through the process of a court appointment.

Who Benefits from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Although the estate’s personal representative brings the lawsuit, any damages will go to specific family members. In general, the law says that the closest kin should receive the proceeds. The laws regarding inheritance are complicated, and family members should seek legal advice from a nearby attorney about what to expect in a particular wrongful death case.

If the award includes funds to reimburse the cost of medical care for the deceased prior to their death, that money goes to their estate and could be used to settle their debts. The rest of the award goes directly to the family members rather than the estate, meaning that the deceased person’s creditors cannot claim against it.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

An award in a wrongful death case may include expenses relating to the funeral as well as lost financial support. The court will award a sum that approximates what the deceased person might have earned over their lifetime, which would have been used to support the basic needs of their dependents.

The family could also receive money to compensate for the loss of their loved one’s love, guidance, companionship, and emotional support. The law caps these damages at $750,000. In rare cases, punitive damages might be available up to a maximum of $250,000. A wrongful death lawyer could advise a family in Bangor whether punitive damages might be available in their specific case.

Reach Out to a Compassionate Bangor Wrongful Death Attorney

If your loved one died due to another party’s careless, reckless, or criminal actions, you and your family deserve justice. Let a compassionate attorney at Mann Law work to hold the responsible party accountable through legal action.

Before founding Mann Law, Chrissy Mann worked at a Maine personal injury firm where she developed a passion for fighting for compensation and justice on behalf of clients. With a cumulative of 50+ years of experience, the Mann Law firm has valuable insight into navigating the wrongful death claim process.

The experience and relationships of Mann Law are invaluable. Our Bangor wrongful death lawyers could provide dedicated guidance in this difficult time and handle the legal aspects of your case while you are grieving. Reach out to our firm today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can advocate for you.