To Win Your Wrongful Death Case, Find the Right Attorney

In general, a wrongful death is a death caused by negligence, either of another person or of a company. What constitutes “negligence,” who can file such claims and the nature of damages which can be recovered differ from state to state. It’s important therefore for representatives of wrongful death victims, such as family members, to consult with a competent personal injury attorney, one with substantial experience in the law as it pertains to wrongful death in their state.

Montana Law Regarding Wrongful Death

Wrongful death in Montana is defined in the Montana Code Annotated 2013 (section 27-1-513) as occurring when:

“…injuries to and the death of one person are caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.”

In Montana, as in many other states, wrongful death is a type of personal injury claim, but in this case one in which the injured party is no longer living, leaving a “personal representative to file the claim.

How Is “Personal Representative” Defined in Montana?

The Montana Code goes on to specify who in the state may bring a wrongful death lawsuit:

“…the personal representative of the decedent's estate may maintain an action for damages against the person causing the death or, if the person is employed by another person who is responsible for the causing person's conduct, then also against the other responsible person.”

In Montana, personal representatives are usually family members. For example, if the person who died is a child, one or both parents can bring the lawsuit.

Civil vs. Criminal Cases

It is important to note that wrongful death cases are civil (as opposed to criminal) cases. In criminal cases, charges are typically filed by representatives of the state, such as prosecutors, whereas charges in civil cases are brought by private parties (such as family members). The results of criminal and civil cases are also different: whereas criminal cases can result in incarceration or fines (assuming the defendant is found guilty), civil cases can result in the awarding of damages to be paid by the defendant.

What Kinds of Damages Are Awarded in Montana Wrongful Death Cases?

The intention of Montana law is to provide adequate compensation for the families of those who die as a result of the negligence of another or others. Damages can be either economic or non-economic. Economic damages are those which are more easily quantified, for example, by assessing medical costs and wages which would have been earned had the individual not died. Non-economic costs are more subjective, typically providing a dollar compensation for pain and suffering.

Statute of Limitations

Montana law applies a Statute of Limitations to file civil claims. In the case of wrongful death, cases must be filed within three years of the death. This is strictly enforced, and cases brought after the deadline will not make it into court.

If you have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s important to find a qualified personal injury attorney with deep experience and a comprehensive understanding of the laws of Montana as they pertain to wrongful death.

To discuss your personal injury case with a competent attorney, contact us today.