Losing a loved one is never easy. But when the loss results from someone else’s negligence, it can be excruciating and traumatic. Families may even face financial challenges from the death of a loved one.
If you believe that someone else’s actions caused your loved one’s death, you may be able to seek compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death cases in Maine are complicated. If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Maine, you should understand certain critical aspects of these cases and what you can expect.
In this blog post, the Mann Law attorneys describe six important things you should know about wrongful death lawsuits in Maine.
Maine law defines wrongful death as a death caused by a “wrongful act, neglect, or default” that would have allowed the deceased person to bring a personal injury claim if they had lived. The responsible party may be liable for wrongful death if their actions were negligent, wrongful, reckless, or intentional.
Common causes of wrongful death include:
These are just a few examples. This list is not exhaustive. A person is liable whenever their negligence or misconduct causes another person’s death.
The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for wrongful death in Maine is two years from the date of the person’s death, except if the cause is homicide. In that case, the statute of limitations is six years. If you fail to file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations, you will lose your right to pursue the claim.
In Maine, only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s surviving family members.
The personal representative is typically the executor of the deceased’s estate if they left a will. The court will otherwise appoint a personal representative if the deceased did not leave a will.
Although the personal representative files and pursues the wrongful death lawsuit, they do so to benefit the deceased person’s heir.
This means that the money the personal representative recovers will go to the deceased person’s remaining family members or other heirs after they’ve paid the attorney’s fees and funeral expenses.
Under Maine law, the money from a wrongful death lawsuit can be distributed directly to the deceased person’s heirs, which usually includes the deceased person’s surviving family members.
The court generally allocates the damages according to Maine’s intestacy laws. This typically means that the surviving spouse and children will receive the money. However, if there is no surviving spouse or children, other relatives, such as parents, siblings, or other more distant relatives, may receive shares of the compensation.
Sometimes, the court or jury in a wrongful death case will award the money to the deceased person’s estate. A settlement agreement may also stipulate that the money will go to the estate. In that case, the money would be divided per the deceased person’s will.
Damages for a wrongful death lawsuit in Maine may include various types of compensation related to the person’s death. This may include:
Compensation may also include loss of companionship and support and pain and suffering, capped at $750,000.
A court may award punitive damages when the defendant’s actions were egregious or intentional. Courts usually award them in cases involving intentional wrongdoing, like in cases involving homicide or manslaughter. Maine law caps punitive damages at $250,000.
The time it takes to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case, the number of parties involved, and the willingness of those parties to negotiate.
So how long does a wrongful death lawsuit take? Some cases may be resolved within a few months, while others could take years.
Several factors that may impact the duration of a wrongful death lawsuit include:
While it’s impossible to predict the exact duration of a wrongful death lawsuit, an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you try to expedite the process.
While it is possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit without an attorney, it’s generally not recommended. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help guide you through the complex legal process and help you make informed decisions about your claim.
They can investigate the circumstances surrounding the death, gather evidence, interview witnesses, and work with experts to build a strong case.
An attorney can also help negotiate with insurance companies and other parties to ensure the family receives fair compensation for their losses. Plus, an attorney can fight the case at trial if negotiations are unsuccessful.
Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in Maine can be complicated and emotional. However, a wrongful death case can also provide a sense of justice and closure for surviving family members.
If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, it is important to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can guide you through the legal process and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
If your loved one was a wrongful death victim, the compassionate advocates at Mann Law can help you to fight for fair compensation. Our experienced attorneys have worked tirelessly for the rights and interests of our clients for nearly two decades.
Plus, our wrongful death attorneys have received accolades for their work, including being recognized as Super Lawyers, receiving Martindale-Hubbell’s preeminent rating, and maintaining a perfect Avvo rating.
Our firm will fight for you and the compensation you deserve. If you need an advocate you can count on during this trying time, contact us at 207-560-8861 for a free consultation.