For informational purposes only. Always consult an attorney to obtain competent legal advice.

 
Wrongful Death Claims

Wrongful Death - When the breach of a legal duty causes the death of another, whether the death was the result of an auto accident, medical malpractice, slip and fall, or other accident, or even if the death was due to an intentional act, the claim is one of Wrongful Death.

  • In such a case, the estate of the deceased person has a claim for Wrongful Death.

  • Wrongful Death damages include "loss of society" claims that may be brought by the deceased person's spouse and each minor child. In the event of the Wrongful Death of a minor child, the parents of the child may each bring a claim for loss of society.

  • The Rhode Island Wrongful Death Act provides the method of determining how damages are awarded. In general, the minimum recovery to the deceased person’s estate for Wrongful Death is presently $250,000.

  • Any Wrongful Death damages collected are paid to the estate of the deceased person. Once the estate is fully "administered" in probate court, the net estate funds are paid to the beneficiaries named in the Last Will & Testament of the deceased, or to his or her heirs-at-law if no Will was found. (For more information about the probate process, select "Probate Process" from the Practice Areas tab on the main menu.)

  • Wrongful Death claims in Rhode Island can result in substantial awards of damages.

  • When a criminal act results in a Wrongful Death, the person who caused the death is charged criminally by the Attorney General's office and can be sued for Wrongful Death by a private party in a civil proceeding. However, the burden of proving a civil claim of Wrongful Death requires only proof amounting to a "preponderance of the evidence"; whereas the standard of proof in a criminal case is always the much higher proof of "beyond a reasonable doubt."

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