When negligent conduct causes death, the survivors may sue for “wrongful death.” These are complex cases that usually require the involvement of the probate court where an executor or administrator (if there is no will) represents the estate of the decedent, and the superior court where the liability case is resolved.
There are two essential elements of such claims: (1) negligence and (2) death resulting from the negligence. To prove the first element, we have to be able to prove in a court of law to the satisfaction of a judge and jury that the party we are suing (the defendant) acted unreasonably.
We see wrongful death cases most often in medical malpractice cases, and automobile crashes. In a medical malpractice case that means we need testimony from an expert that proves the defendant provided substandard care. In an automobile crash case, we need to be able to prove that the other driver was negligent.
Very few citizens know that the New Hampshire General Court (also known as the Legislature) enacted a law that limits recovery in this kind of case. In New Hampshire, the recovery by the estate of someone whose death resulted from the negligence of another cannot exceed $50,000 unless the decedent is survived by a spouse, a child, a parent, or a relative who was dependent on the decedent. That same statute states that the spouse of the decedent cannot recover more than $150,000 for loss of consortium. And each minor child of a decedent is allowed to recover no more than $50,000 for the wrongful death of a parent.
- How much money can I expect to get when my case is over?
First, you should run away from any lawyer who tries to answer this question before he or she has built your case into the best it can be. No lawyer can, even after meeting with you for that free, initial consulation, tell how much your case is worth. Yes, there are factors that drive most every case; how much are your medical bills or lost earnings, how bad are your injuries, did you require pyschological treatment and many others. But, there is a lot more to determining the value of any legal claim.
There are two key factors many people overlook. Nice plaintiffs, that is the people suing, can do better than others. In fact, a nice plaintiff, someone a jury will like, can turn a bad case into a good one. This is true in reverse. A likeable defendant will result in a lower verdict. As a well regarded New Hampshire Judge recently said, we can't determine the value until we "eyeball" the parties.
If you want a lawyer who will promise you a fortune to get your case, this firm isn't for you. If you want lawyers with the experience and skill necessary to accurately "eyeball" the parties, including being honest about your jury appeal, contact us below.