Burlington Wrongful Death Lawyers
People frequently describe fatal situations as "accidents" or "mishaps." Sometimes, such descriptions are chosen to protect the delicate sensibilities of the listener. Other times, they are used to cloud the truth and disperse blame to protect the real cause of the incident - negligent behavior. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we have extensive experience representing clients who have endured the agony of having a loved one die due to an avoidable accident. It is very important that you act quickly to discuss your situation with a caring and experienced Burlington wrongful death attorney.
We serve clients throughout the Massachusetts communities with three convenient offices located in Boston, Methuen, and Burlington. Spanish translation is available if needed — servicios de traducción están disponibles.
Often an accident or mishap is more accurately described as the probable result of preventable negligence. Our Burlington personal injury lawyers don’t consider these situations accidents and we don’t think families that lose loved ones should either. If you believe that the death of your loved one was caused by negligent or reckless behavior on behalf of another individual, you may have grounds for a case. Responsible parties and their insurers should be held accountable in situations where a death could have been prevented. When a person’s life is taken wrongfully, there are always emotional and financial costs to the survivors.
A few common examples of cases we represent include:
When death occurs from the negligence or willful or wanton acts of another party, wrongful death claims can be filed if the departed would have had grounds for a personal injury action if they had survived. In instances of wrongful death, the executor or administrator of the deceased may seek recovery for damages by an act of tort. Damages may be recovered for the fair monetary value which includes compensation for:
- An amount of income that the deceased could have been expected to earn during their lifetime.
Reasonable costs associated with a funeral and/or burial are recoverable. Punitive damages are also recoverable beginning at a minimum of $5,000. For recovery of punitive damages, the death must have resulted from actions that could be defined as grossly negligent, willful, wanton, or reckless in nature. These damages are not to compensate the estate of the deceased, but rather to penalize the defendant for willful or reckless behavior, and discourage others from acting similarly. Punitive damages are not recoverable in the following circumstances:
- When an employer would be liable for the death of an employee during the normal course of work.
- To those who operate on the railroads, for accidents involving those walking along a railway.
- For operators of street railway or electric vehicles, for accidents involving those upon that part of the roadway.
If an employee is killed while within the scope of work, the cases are handled in accordance with the terms of the Workers Compensation Act. This was a special provision drafted in 1911 stating that the wrongful death statute in these situations yields to an exclusive remedy contained in this act. These cases do not assess the employer’s intent or conduct as it relates to the accident, but rather afford them immunity in such situations. It guarantees compensation, regardless of fault, in exchange for the employee’s waiver of right to bring actions of tort. The basis for establishing this was to forego individual tort actions which are costly, and result in no certainty that compensation will be awarded. It allows for protection from potentially unpredictable costs that stem from suits. The act allows for those who are dependents of the employee to receive benefits equivalent to roughly two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly pay. The amount is not to exceed an amount greater than average weekly pay of those within the state as a whole. This state average is calculated by the office of the director of the state’s unemployment department, and is updated annually in October. Spouses are eligible for this weekly compensation as long as they do not remarry. There are a host of provisions and exemptions associated with this process such as extra weekly benefits to account for each child that is under the age of 18. If the spouse is deceased, the children of the employee are the recipients of the funds.
Those who are employed by entities subject to the Workers Compensation Act are enrolled and eligible for the benefits under the act unless they specifically waive or opt-out of this plan. An employee wishing to do this would be required to notify their employer in writing during the process of being hired. In doing this, the employee does retain the right to bring common law actions in court against their employer, thus not agreeing to the waiver.
These claims filed by the administrator of the estate for the deceased must begin within three years from the date of death. The law does allow for adjustment of the date that the three year threshold begins to be when the administrator became aware of the cause for action.
Our firm aggressively pursues its clients’ wrongful death claims against intoxicated drivers. We can’t bring back a lost loved one but we can help ensure that those responsible, including the driver, his or her employer, the business that served the alcohol, and even the person who lent the keys to a vehicle, are held accountable to grieving family members, spouses, and children. Let us help you rebuild the future that was taken from you.
Please call us today at (781) 262-3338 to make an appointment for a free consultation - we are available 24/7.
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- Massachusetts Wrongful Death Lawsuits
- Massachusetts Law: Chapter 229: Actions for Death and Injuries Resulting in Death
- Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2015
- Vehicle Fatality Facts - IIHS