Coping with the loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult times of your life. This time can be made even more trying when the death was the result of some else’s negligent actions or wrongdoings.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 150,000 unintentional injury deaths occurred in 2015. Most of those deaths were caused by falls, motor vehicle accidents, and unintentional poisonings. Because those deaths were unintentional, a majority of them were most likely preventable. It’s the preventable factor that will convince a judge or jury the death should be deemed wrongful.
In the event of a wrongful death, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim. While wrongful death laws vary from state to state, most allow financial compensation to be awarded for the sustained damages to the estate or the family. If you’d like to know more information, we encourage you to keep reading and contact one of our experienced, reputable Little Rock wrongful death lawyers at your earliest convenience.
Defining Wrongful Death in Arkansas
As mentioned above, wrongful death laws are established at the state level. Arkansas Code 16-62-105, which was updated in 2017, defines a wrongful death as being caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party. A wrongful death claim can also be filed for the death of an unborn child if the death was caused by the action of another individual or an illegal abortion.
To prove a wrongful death claim, an appointed personal representative must prove the surviving family members will suffer financial burdens because their loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of another party.
If the death was caused intentionally, a separate criminal law case can be held. Because a wrongful death claim is a civil law case, compensation is expressed solely in financial terms. With a criminal law case, however, the guilty party may be penalized with probation or prison time.
Sources of Wrongful Death
While many accidents result in recoverable injuries, that is not always the case. Regardless of the setting, individuals sometimes engage in reckless or intentional behaviors that lead to unnecessary deaths. At McMath Woods P.A., we represent wrongful death victims whose accidents happened for a variety of reasons and in a variety of settings. Some of those sources include:
- Aviation Accidents
- Bus Accidents
- Car Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Motorcycle Accidents and Bike Accidents
- Nursing Home Abuse Cases
- Truck Accidents
- On-the-Job Accidents
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Arkansas
In Arkansas, like most other states, a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the person who brings the wrongful death claim to court. If there is no personal representative, an heir may file the claim. Heirs include surviving spouses, children, parents or siblings, or persons standing in place of parents, i.e. “in loco parentis.”
Wrongful death claims are subject to a status of limitations, meaning they must be filed within a certain period of time. In Arkansas, wrongful death claims must be filed within one year of the date of death. If the claim is not filed within this time period, the court has the right to throw out the case.
In certain instances, however, the statute of limitations may be extended or delayed. This happens most often when a child is left without a parent. That child will have up to three years after they turn 21 to file a claim.
Damages for Wrongful Death Claims
Arkansas separates wrongful death claims into two categories: estate claims and family claims.
Estate claims seek compensation for the losses the deceased suffered as a result of dying. Common damages sought for estate claims include funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering endured before death, and the loss of value of the remaining life in regard to wages.
Family claims seek compensation for losses the family members have suffered as a result of the untimely death. Common family claim damages include the loss of financial support, loss of care and guidance, and loss of household services. Damages paid for the family claim are awarded directly to family members. Those individuals must decide how to divide the money. If they are unable to do so, the court may make an official ruling.
Contact a Little Rock Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
The Arkansas wrongful death attorneys from McMath Woods P.A. understand the devastating impact the unexpected loss of a loved one can have on a family.
In the event of a wrongful death, filing a claim can be difficult because of factors that often complicate these types of cases. In some cases, the negligence may be easy to identify, like in the instance of a medical malpractice or a car accident; however, not all negligence is that easily identifiable. Extensive research may be required to uncover the guilty party.
If you feel your loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of someone else, our attorneys are prepared to help you seek compensation to ease your financial burdens. Reach out to us today for a free evaluation of your claim.