Wrongful death statutes are legal guidelines that help families who have unexpectedly lost a loved one in an accident understand the legal resources available to them during an unquestionably difficult time. A wrongful death action can essentially be understood as a personal injury claim, however, the victim is unable to bring a personal injury claim because the victim was killed in the accident. Instead, the wrongful death claim is brought by a representative of the victim for the benefit of surviving family members.

A wrongful death claim holds the party that caused the fatal accident responsible for the harm to the victim’s family. The party whose negligence wrongfully caused the death of the victim is liable to the family of the lost loved one for damages in many circumstances. According to the Massachusetts wrongful death statute, a number of damages may be available to surviving family members who have suffered the loss of a loved one in a fatal accident. Damages that the family may recover under the statute can include compensation for the loss of income, services, care, companionship, society, protection, assistance, comfort, guidance, counsel and advice.

In addition, the family may be able to recover damages for funeral expenses and depending on the circumstances, punitive damages may be available in some situations. The unexpected loss of a loved one can create many challenges for surviving family members. Family members may be faced with emotional and financial challenges to cope with all at once. Because of the serious nature of wrongful death circumstances, the legal process offers protections for families facing the unthinkable wrongful loss of a loved one.

Source: MALegislature.gov, “Part III, Title II, Chapter 229, Section 2,” Accessed Sept. 7, 2015