Understanding wrongful death and survival action lawsuits in Montana
Nothing can ever make up for the loss of a loved one. But the tragedy can be compounded even further by the knowledge that the loss occurred due to another person’s negligence. In Montana, you may be able to receive compensation while seeking justice for your loss. There are 2 options available in Montana—wrongful death and survival action.
Following the loss of a loved one, you may find yourself feeling devastated and even confused. It’s not uncommon for families to be unfamiliar with the concepts of survival action and wrongful death claims. If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, it’s important to understand these options to ensure that your family’s legal rights are protected and maximum financial restitution is obtained for the loss of your loved one.
What is wrongful death?
Montana residents may be able to bring a wrongful death case in situations where an individual was killed as a result of the recklessness, negligence or intentional act of another individual. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death in Montana include auto accidents, construction accidents and medical malpractice.
Wrongful death suits can also be brought in the event of product liability. Companies that manufacture and sell items are responsible for ensuring the safety of those products. In the event that someone died due to the negligence of a company that didn’t take reasonable precautions to protect the public, the deceased’s family may be entitled to receive compensation.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in Montana?
A wrongful death claim is filed by the beneficiaries of the person killed. This could include the spouse of the deceased but may also include their parents or children. Additionally, the personal representative of the deceased’s beneficiaries may also file a wrongful death claim.
Such lawsuits seek to recover damages as a way of compensating the family of the deceased for the loss of their loved one. The damages that can be recovered in such cases vary but could potentially include medical, funeral, burial and estate administration expenses.
Additionally, the family of the deceased may be able to seek damages for the loss of financial contributions their loved one would have been able to contribute to the family had they gone on living.
Children may also be able to seek compensation for their loss of services and support.
What is a survival action?
A survival action is not brought by the deceased’s family members but, rather, by the estate of the individual who died. This means that the estate brings the action on behalf of claims the deceased might have had if they hadn’t died in the accident.
A survival action allows the deceased’s estate to receive compensation for the pain and suffering that the deceased endured from the time of their injury until their death. Damages in a survival action might include loss of earning power during that same time period. In this type of lawsuit, the damages awarded in the lawsuit are paid directly to the estate.
Survival action vs. wrongful death in Montana
In addition to the difference in who can bring a claim in each type of lawsuit, survival actions and wrongful death lawsuits differ in the types of damages that can be recovered.
In a wrongful death suit, damages are typically focused on the losses that the deceased’s family may have experienced, such as the loss of companionship, loss of support, loss of income, and funeral and medical expenses. In a survival action suit, damages are based on the losses that the deceased might have been able to recover if they had survived. This may include pain and suffering.
Filing wrongful death claims in Montana
While no amount of money can ever begin to make up for the loss of someone you love, it can help ease some of the financial burdens you face in their absence. If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another person, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit and receive damages, but a statute of limitations does apply. So, it’s imperative that you have professional legal representation to ensure you receive maximum compensation.
Under Montana law, wrongful death claims must be filed within 3 years of the date of death. If the death occurred as the result of a homicide, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit is extended to 10 years. Because of these strict time restrictions, it’s crucial that you don’t wait too long to begin the process of filing a claim. Otherwise, you might miss your opportunity entirely.