The death of a family member or loved one due to a catastrophic injury caused by someone else’s intentional, reckless or negligent actions is something many people never get over. Aside from the severe emotional and mental distress, the victim’s loved ones may be left with staggering medical bills or expenses that can cause financial ruin.
Aside from this, many people also simply cannot afford to survive financially without their spouse or family member, and the grief from the loss of companionship can be overwhelming. After the initial shock of a tragedy like this has worn off, many people begin contemplating a wrongful death lawsuit.
Although no amount of money can replace a lost loved one, wrongful death damages can provide some form of monetary relief that allows the recipient some financial stability and time to heal. However, there are rules surrounding who can file a wrongful death claim in Montana, and who can receive any awarded damages.
A personal representative must file the wrongful death lawsuit
Under Montana law, a wrongful death claim can only be initiated by the personal representative of the victim’s estate. This does not mean the personal representative must or will receive the damages, only that they must be the one to start the lawsuit.
If a wrongful death claim is proven, the victim’s spouse or minor children may recover damages. If the victim is a minor child, the victim’s parents may receive damages. The law does not prohibit parents of an adult child from being awarded damages, but evidence of a close and dependent relationship between the parents and child must be shown.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be complex, and proving negligence is challenging. Montana residents who believe they have a claim for wrongful death or have questions about their role in any potential lawsuit could benefit from speaking with a professional.