21st June 2021
Wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits are treated a bit differently in North Dakota, so it’s important to know the differentiation. Specifically, what is a wrongful death lawsuit, how long after your loved one passes do you have to file one, and who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of North Dakota?
Most importantly, if someone you love has passed away because of a personal injury accident, you should contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to have your case evaluated. Wrongful death claims are often complex, as they have higher damages associated with them. Therefore, insurance companies often try to lowball victims, paying out as little as possible when they aren’t represented by an experienced attorney.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is outlined by North Dakota in Section 32-21 as a “wrongful act, neglect, or default” that causes another person’s death. In simpler terms, a wrongful death accident occurs when someone passes away because of another person’s actions, usually unintentionally. Wrongful death can be caused by:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Oil field accidents
- Dog bite injuries
- Medical malpractice
- Construction accidents
- Nursing home abuse
- Child abuse or neglect
- And more
Death may occur at the scene of an accident or later on, days, months, or even years later, because of complications associated with the injuries sustained during the accident.
Unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in the United States, with 173,040 people dying each year due to motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and more. The leading causes of unintentional injury are motor vehicle accidents and unintentional falls.
Which Parties Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a loved one passes away, it can be difficult to think about having to go through the process of filing a wrongful death claim. You’ll want to spend time mourning the loss of a loved one, and here at Sand Law, we understand that need. We can take on your claim, leaving you to mourn and grieve however you need to. Taking on a wrongful death lawsuit on your own, without representation, can be too much for people, and we don’t recommend it, especially as insurance companies tend to prey on victims, knowing that they’re vulnerable.
But who is actually able to file a wrongful death lawsuit? In North Dakota, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by, in order:
- A spouse
- Parents or guardian
- A personal representative of the deceased’s estate
- Whoever had primary custody of the deceased at the time of their passing
This means that the first person with the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit is the spouse. If they choose not to take legal action, that right passes onto the children and so on.
Receiving Damages for the Loss of a Loved One
Likely, you won’t want to think about money after your loved one passes away. However, they likely have a lot of medical debt and other damages that were left unresolved. These damages often get passed onto the spouse or children, which is one of the main reasons they have a right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
We know that money isn’t the most important thing, but it will help to take some of the stress off your shoulders. You can claim both economic and non-economic damages on behalf of yourself and your loved one, including damages for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages (theirs and yours)
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Rehab and in-home care expenses
- Loss of income due to your loved one’s passing
- Pain and suffering (yours and theirs)
- Mental and emotional distress
- Loss of consortium or companionship
What is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Accidents in North Dakota?
The statute of limitations in North Dakota for wrongful death is two years. That means that you have two years after the passing of your loved one to take legal action and file a wrongful death lawsuit.
It’s important to file a lawsuit as early as you can, so all the information is still fresh in your mind. However, if it’s too stressful or hard to file a lawsuit right away, you can take some time before going through the process of filing a wrongful death claim.
Contact a North Dakota Wrongful Death Attorney
If someone you love has passed away due to a personal injury accident, you should contact a wrongful death attorney upon their passing. A wrongful death attorney will be able to help you file the lawsuit, walking you through all of the legal procedures. They’ll speak to insurance companies and doctors on your behalf as well.
With the help of an attorney, you’ll be able to get the most compensation possible for your wrongful death case. Not only that but hiring an attorney and filing a lawsuit can also help to bring you closure for the accident.