Losing a loved one is a horrible experience. The grief associated with a loved one’s death can sometimes feel insurmountable. But what should you do if your loved one died at the hands of another? What if that person’s negligent actions led to your loved one’s death?
A very simple answer to this extremely complex issue is the wrongful death doctrine. A wrongful death occurs when an individual dies or is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another. Wrongful acts include such things as an intentional attack, battery, death during the commission of a crime, manslaughter, and murder.
In Arkansas, a wrongful death claim could be filed by the estate of the deceased or an eligible surviving heir. Our Bentonville, AR wrongful death attorneys offer sympathetic, compassionate, and professional legal representation to grieving individuals and families. Call Ken Keiklak, Attorney at Law, at (479) 316-0438 to discuss your case.
What is Wrongful Death?
When another party’s negligence causes the death of a person, the surviving family members and heirs might be able to receive financial compensation through a wrongful death claim. Since the deceased is incapable of filing a wrongful death claim, the lawsuit is brought on their behalf.
Wrongful death claims are civil actions in Arkansas. However, it is possible that a criminal charge was also filed. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, the state could be seeking justice by seeking to punish the negligent party. A criminal case does not preclude a wrongful death claim. Additionally, if a criminal case is filed and the at-fault party is not convicted, they could still be held financially liable for the death through a wrongful death lawsuit. Because the burden of proof is much greater in a criminal proceeding, it is possible to find civilly liable and not criminally guilty.
How Wrongful Death Claims Work in Bentonville, Arkansas
In the majority of personal injury lawsuits in Arkansas, an injured person files a claim against another party or entity. However, in a wrongful death claim, the injured person is unable to file a claim on their own behalf. Therefore, someone else must bring the case to court.
In order to bring a wrongful death claim after the decedent has passed for benefit of the estate, a personal representative must bring the claim. A personal representative is typically the administrator of the estate. However, in situations where a personal representative does not exist, for instance, if the deceased was a child, Arkansas permits an eligible “heir-at-law” to file a claim. According to the law, an heir includes the decedent’s surviving children, parents, siblings, or legal guardians. Any of these persons may be deemed personal representatives of the estate and are proprietaries in bringing a wrongful death claim. If you have any questions regarding your eligibility to file a claim on behalf of a loved one, contact our Arkansas wrongful death lawyers.
Elements of a Bentonville Wrongful Death Claim
The elements of a wrongful death claim vary depending on the jurisdiction in which your claim is brought. In Bentonville (and Arkansas generally), wrongful death claims must include the following:
- The death of an individual following the actions of another person or entity.
- After the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts by the defendant led to the death of an individual, the family members of the decedent suffer a direct and real injury.
- Financial damages ensue as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
What Types of Wrongful Death Claims do Our Bentonville Attorneys Handle?
Wrongful death claims arise from the same accidents and incidents that give rise to personal injury lawsuits. Someone could be killed in a car accident, construction mishap, or even a slip and fall accident. Our Arkansas attorneys handle a wide variety of claims arising from many different kinds of accidents. Below is just a sample list of the types of wrongful death claims our law offices have prosecuted.
- Fatal Car Accidents
- Fatal Truck Accidents
- Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Hospital Administration Negligence
- Products Liability Issues
- Workplace Accidents
- Theme & Water Park Accidents
- Medication Errors
- Medical Device Errors
- Pedestrian Accidents
Losing a loved one to any of these types of accidents can be devastating. If your loved one has died of any of these or another fatal accident, then you need to contact Ken Kieklak as soon as possible with the details of your case. Time may be running out on your claim, so it is important that you act quickly.
Why Should I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Bentonville, AR
Once again, wrongful death claims are those actions taken against individuals for their misconduct, which resulted in the death of your loved one. Wrongful death claims are important remedies in civil actions because they protect the estate of the decedent and the family of the decedent.
Without wrongful death actions, families might have fewer damage claims against individuals that are responsible for the death of a loved one. Families may not be as secure without the economic contributions brought by the decedent. Emotionally, family members are distraught, and without a wrongful death action, descendants and other loved ones might have a much more difficult time finding “closure.” Sure, a wrongful death action will never bring your loved one back to life. But at least a wrongful death claim allows families to find peace and closure in the retribution associated with holding individuals and entities responsible for the decedent’s passing.
Bentonville, Arkansas Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim
Whether you are filing a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, you must file it within a specific time period. Arkansas’ statute of limitations governs the deadline for filing a wrongful death claim. Under Arkansas law, a personal representative or legal heir must file the claim within three years of the date of the person’s death. If the case is not filed in a timely fashion, the family could lose all rights to receive any compensation.
In some situations, two cases could arise out of the same incident. For example, a person could have grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident. If they die because of their injuries, their estate or surviving family members could file a wrongful death claim. One does not preclude the other, even if the statute of limitations barred the personal injury lawsuit. For example, if your spouse was severely hurt in an accident and failed to pursue a personal injury case, you still have the right to file a wrongful death claim if their injuries prove fatal. It is important to note that the clock starts running on the date of the death and not the date of the original accident or injury.
If you believe you have grounds for a wrongful death claim, you should not hesitate to contact our experienced Bentonville lawyers. Wrongful death cases are often complicated and take time to prepare. Additionally, if you delay in contacting an attorney, valuable evidence could be lost. To increase your chances of finding justice, contact our law offices as soon as possible.
Damages Available in a Bentonville Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When a plaintiff files a personal injury lawsuit, they are seeking damages – or trying to recoup their financial losses resulting from the injury, such as medical bills and lost wages. When a personal representative or heir brings a wrongful death claim to court, they are also looking for damages. Under Arkansas law, there are two categories of damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit. First damages could be award on behalf of the deceased person’s heirs and family. The second category includes the damages the deceased’s estate suffered.
If you lost a loved family member, you should be compensated for the losses you suffered. When survivors of the deceased are awarded damages, it is commonly referred to as a family claim.
These types of losses are usually personal and include economic losses, such as lost income, financial support, and even household services and chores. However, a family claim is not limited to the monetary support the deceased provided. Grieving heirs are also entitled to be compensated for their emotional pain and suffering associated with the death of their loved one, including the loss of companionship and care. Children could be awarded damages for the loss of guidance, education, and training.
Damages could also be awarded on behalf of the deceased’s estate. These damages are commonly called the estate claim. Estate claims are intended to compensate the deceased’s estate for losses resulting from the death. For instance, the estate is entitled to recover for funeral and burial expenses.
However, one could think of the estate claim as a personal injury lawsuit filed by the deceased. This means that the estate is entitled to seek compensation for any medical expenses associated with the treatment the deceased received before they died, including the cost of an ambulance, emergency room care, hospitalization, and surgery. Pain and suffering are commonly awarded in a personal injury lawsuit and it is available in an estate claim. If the deceased suffered before succumbing to their injuries, the estate could be awarded for the physical pain and mental anguish the deceased endured. Furthermore, the estate could be entitled to the loss of value of the deceased’s remaining life, including the wages they would have earned.
Wrongful Death Proceeds
It is important to note that, under Arkansas law, the proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit, whether a family or estate claim, are not assets of the deceased’s estate. All damages are paid directly to the deceased’s family members. Additionally, there is no statutory cap on wrongful death damages in Arkansas.
If You Lost a Family Member Because of Another’s Negligence, Contact Our Experienced Bentonville, AR Wrongful Death Attorneys
If your wife, husband, mother, father, son, or daughter was involved in a fatal accident, contact our firm immediately. You need representation that will protect your family’s rights. For more than two decades, Ken Kieklak has stood up for Arkansas families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. For your free and confidential consultation, contact our Bentonville, AR Arkansas wrongful death lawyers by calling (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.