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Legal Options Following the Death of a Spouse

Losing a spouse in an accident is among the most stressful life events. The surviving spouse endures significant emotional harm, and often has to deal with significant financial challenges as well. In cases where the spouse’s death was the result of another person’s negligence or happened at work, the survivor should consult with an attorney to understand their legal options for pursuing compensation that will ease the practical consequences of his or her loss.

Suing for wrongful death claim in Nevada

When a spouse’s death was caused by another person’s negligence the survivor may have the option of suing for damages under the legal concept of wrongful death. Wrongful death is a cause of action that can only be brought by the heirs or legal representatives (typically, estate attorneys) of a person who died as a consequence of a negligent act.

Negligence is the backbone of many personal injury cases. It applies when the defendant owed a duty of care toward the deceased person and failed to meet that duty of care, and as a consequence of that failure caused the injuries that led to the deceased person’s death. Duties of care are defined by law, either in statutes or in the long tradition of court cases. An auto accident often involves an act of negligence. For example, a person who runs a red light has committed negligence by failing to obey traffic laws.

A plaintiff in a wrongful death case can sue for damages that aren’t available in an ordinary personal injury case. Among other things, the plaintiff can pursue compensation for grief, loss of companionship, and loss of comfort. They can also seek compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased spouse. If the deceased spouse was also a major source of income for the family, the plaintiff can also pursue compensation for that loss of income.

Death at work

Potential plaintiffs should bear in mind that a death at work involves a different set of rules from other cases of negligence. A Nevada employer that is compliant with state laws will have workers’ compensation insurance to protect itself in the event that a worker dies on the job. Among other things, the rules around workers’ compensation prohibit most lawsuits against employers who are compliant with insurance requirements. Instead, the surviving spouse needs to apply for death benefits through the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage.

Just because the workers’ comp system protects employers doesn’t mean that there is no longer an option of filing a wrongful death claim against other parties who may bear responsibility. A personal injury attorney can examine the facts of the case to determine the extent to which the workers’ compensation bar against lawsuits applies.

For over four decades the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have helped clients seek compensation for personal injuries. Our practice is centered on providing caring, compassionate service to every client. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.