Fatalities and Wrongful Death Claims
Despite the decline in total motorcycle accidents in recent years, the number of fatalities from motorcycle accidents has remained relatively high. A number of studies suggest that several factors that may explain why this is so. Among them are failure of other drivers to recognize motorcyclists as vehicles with equal rights on the road, limited visibility, failure to yield right of way, and the motorcyclist not wearing protective headgear. Despite many concerted campaigns to improve motorcycle safety, the fatalities attributed to motorcycle collisions continue to be an ongoing issue. If a loved one is killed in a motorcycle accident, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible party or parties. An experienced New Hampshire motorcycle injury attorney can review the facts of your case and assist you in formulating a solid plan of action going forward.What is Considered a “Wrongful Death” Claim in New Hampshire
A wrongful death claim may be filed when the negligent, reckless, or intentional act of one or more persons causes someone's death. A wrongful death claim can be understood as essentially a personal injury claim in which the injured person—the deceased—is no longer available to pursue his or her own claim. Instead, generally family member will pursue the claim on behalf of the deceased person's estate and surviving family members. There are deadlines for filing a wrongful death claim which, if not met, will mean that the claim will be barred. The amount of time varies from as little as 180 days to six years depending on who is responsible, so it is important to, at the very least, consult an attorney as soon as possible to determine what the filing deadline is in order to protect your rights and interests.Who May File a New Hampshire Wrongful Death Claim?
New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 556:19 allows "any person interested in the estate of a deceased" to file a wrongful death claim. New Hampshire differs from many other states, in this respect. Other states restrict the right to file a wrongful death claim to individuals such as the estate’s personal administrator or surviving family members. However, New Hampshire allows anyone with a legal interest in the deceased person's estate to pursue that interest through a wrongful death claim. Because a wrongful death claim is a civil suit, it must be filed directly in a New Hampshire civil court by the interested party. A wrongful death claim, in this way, differs from criminal charges for manslaughter or murder, which are filed by an attorney for the State (generally a District Attorney). A civil wrongful death claim may be filed even if criminal charges are pending against the defendant.Damages in a New Hampshire Wrongful Death Claim
New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 556.12 governs the types of damages available in a wrongful death claim and the individuals who are eligible to receive those damages. Although the amount of damages are specific to the case and will vary based on the facts of the case, in general the types of damages available in a New Hampshire wrongful death claim include: conscious pain and suffering; medical, funeral, and burial expenses incurred; and lost income.
Important factors in determining lost income are the deceased’s past income, reasonably anticipated future increases in income, and the number of years the deceased would have continued working. Our firm uses forensic accountants to investigate and analyze these and other factors in determining future lost income compensation.
Damages that may be available for a surviving spouse include damages for the care, loss of the comfort and companionship, and guidance/assistance of the deceased. These damages are limited to $150,000, however. Damages are also available to surviving children under age 18. These damages include the loss of familial relationship and are also capped.Fighting for Justice for Motorcyclists
It can be overwhelmingly difficult to deal with grief over the loss of a spouse, parent or child who has unexpectedly lost their life in a motorcycle accident due to someone else’s negligence (or recklessness). If your loved one offered you financial or any other support, one of your concerns may be how you will support yourself now that your loved one is gone. We urge you to retain an experienced and trustworthy New Hampshire motorcycle injury attorney to assist you and your family to obtain compensation for your losses after a motorcycle fatality. Contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 800.804.2004 or via our online form for a free consultation.