Finkelstein & Partners LLP – Boston Office
15 Court Square #800a,
Boston, MA 02108

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Finkelstein & Partners, LLP – Winning Serious Injury Lawsuits Since 1959

New York Wrongful Death AttorneysAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), accidents are the third-leading cause of death in Massachusetts, behind only cancer and heart disease. An accident often results from negligence, which is a failure to take the reasonable actions that an individual should take in a given set of circumstances to avoid causing harm to others.

Boston sees an average of slightly more than 1,000 car accidents a year on its often congested roadways, resulting in more than 300 traffic-related fatalities each year. The roadways themselves are aging, presenting damaged surfaces, improperly or inadequately designed intersections, narrow lanes, and a lack of separation between different types of roadway users, such as motor vehicle drivers and bicyclists or pedestrians. Car accidents are just one type of Boston accident in which death may occur.

If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s careless or reckless actions, you can seek compensation for the economic and psychological impacts of your loss through a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced Boston wrongful death lawyer from Finkelstein & Partners can assist in this process. For more than 60 years, our firm has helped the families of those killed by the negligence of others recover the compensation they need to carry on with their lives.

We are proud of the results we have obtained for our clients, including:

  • A $3.25 million settlement for the mother of a 30-year-old woman who died after suffering an asthma attack when the hospital she sought treatment from failed to perform the necessary tests to diagnose and treat her condition.
  • A $3.2 million settlement for the family of a woman who was killed in an accident that was a result of a road defect.
  • A $2.8 million settlement for the family of a construction worker who was killed when the trench he was working in collapsed.
  • A $2.25 million settlement for the family of a nursing home resident who choked to death on a hard-boiled egg after a staff member failed to follow care instructions that clearly stated that she was only supposed to be given soft food.
  • A $2 million settlement for the family of an 81-year-old pedestrian who died when a negligent driver struck him in a parking lot and not realizing she had hit a person dragged him 15 feet.

While each case is different, and no lawyer can guarantee the amount a family can recover in a Boston wrongful death case, you can count on Finkelstein & Partners to work with the same level of dedication and expertise as we do for all our clients.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In Boston, wrongful death is the loss of a person’s life due to a “willful, wanton, or reckless act” that would have entitled the victim to seek compensation through a personal injury claim if they had survived. Family members of the deceased individual can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts that they incurred through a wrongful death claim.

Who Can File a Boston Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

While family members are usually the ones to receive compensation from a Boston wrongful death lawsuit, the named or court-appointed executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate must file the claim.

The family members who can recover from the claim include:

  • The deceased’s surviving spouse
  • The deceased’s dependent children
  • Other family members who relied on the deceased for support and services, in place of a spouse or dependent children

The Types of Accidents That Result in Wrongful Death Claims

Nearly any type of accident that results in a death can give rise to a wrongful death claim.

Some of the most common accidents in Boston wrongful death cases include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents, including accidents involving passenger cars and trucks, commercial trucks, city buses, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians. According to the organization Walk Boston, the largest share of the fatalities involved in vehicle accidents occur to the operators of motor vehicles. Motorcyclists and pedestrians are the second-most likely to be in a fatal accident, with about 50 motorcyclists and between 50 and 76 pedestrians killed in traffic-related accidents in Massachusetts each year.
  • Medical malpractice. Doctors and other healthcare providers must provide services meeting a high standard of care to avoid injury or death for patients. Unfortunately, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, more than 250,000 deaths in the U.S. each year result from medical errors. Errors that commonly result in a medical malpractice claim include misdiagnosis, missed diagnosis, or delayed diagnosis; prescription errors; surgical errors; birth injuries; failure to provide adequate follow-up care; premature discharge from the hospital; and failure to fully disclose known risks of a procedure or treatment that if the patient had the information would likely result in the patient requesting an alternative treatment option.
  • Product defects. Boston residents rely on manufactured products in every facet of life. While many of these products provide convenience and modern necessities, defects in products including household appliances, auto parts, children’s toys, furniture, and even foods and medications we consume can result in a wrongful death. The manufacturers of products available to consumers must make these products that do not pose unreasonable risks to consumers when used according to labeled instructions.
  • Premises liability. Those who own, lease, possess, or control residential, business, or public properties in Boston must regularly inspect their properties for hazards that may injure guests, and promptly eliminate known property hazards or warn guests of them. Premises hazards that can cause a wrongful death include obstacles, poorly constructed or maintained flooring or stairways that can result in a slip and fall accident; a workplace that may cause a worker to slip and fall, get struck by an object, or suffer electrocution; improperly maintained or supervised swimming pools, escalators, and elevators; dog bites; fires and flooding from a failure to properly maintain a structure; and failure to provide adequate security to protect guests from criminal activity that is known to occur near the property.
  • Nursing home negligence. Families in Boston rely on nursing homes to care for and supervise their aging and vulnerable loved ones who can no longer care for themselves. Nursing home staff must meet the needs of your loved one, including the responsibility to ensure nursing home residents an existence that is free from abuse, discrimination, and other harm. Nursing home staff also must administer medication and provide medical and self-care assistance, meals, and other services for residents. Failure to provide adequate care and supervision or to protect a resident from abuse by staff members or other residents, leading to death, can result in wrongful death liability.
  • Workplace accidents that resulted from a negligent third party (someone who was not the deceased’s coworker or employer), or workplace accidents for which the employer has not provided a worker’s compensation policy despite being required by law to do so.

Proving Your Boston Wrongful Death Claim

Generally, an at-fault party’s insurance policy compensates for wrongful death injuries. For motor vehicle accidents, this often involves the liable party’s auto liability policy. For accidents involving premises liability, plaintiffs usually file the claim against the homeowner’s, renter’s, or business’s liability policy.

When your attorney makes your demands to the insurance adjuster, you will need to show receipts, invoices, and other documents relating to all expenses and impacts you are claiming compensation for. You will also likely need to provide information regarding the deceased’s income and the support and services that the deceased contributed to the household.

To prove that your loved one’s death resulted from someone else’s willful, wanton, or reckless act, you must show:

  • The at-fault party owed you a duty or standard of care. The duty of care refers to the actions that a reasonable person would take to protect the safety and property of others. For example, a passenger car driver owes other roadway users a duty to operate the vehicle safely and under Boston’s traffic laws. “Standard of care” is the term that is often used in medical malpractice cases. A standard of care refers to the actions that a reasonable healthcare provider takes to prevent harm to their patient.
  • A breach in the duty/standard of care occurred when the at-fault party failed to protect the safety of others and their property.
  • The breach resulted in the death of your loved one and the expenses and impacts for which you are claiming compensation.

Recoverable Damages In a Boston Wrongful Death Claim

The phrase “recovering damages” is legalese for obtaining compensation for the harm done to you. In a Boston wrongful death claim, you can recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to the compensation you seek for the tangible expenses you have incurred and will likely incur from the death of your loved one.

Expenses included in Boston wrongful death claims may include:

  • Reasonable funeral and burial or cremation costs that a family member paid
  • The income that the deceased would have earned
  • The loss of services the deceased provided for the family

Non-economic damages refer to the compensation for the quality-of-life impacts the loss of your loved one has caused you to experience.

The non-economic damages you can seek to recover include:

  • The loss of care, companionship, counsel, comfort, guidance, and advice the deceased provided to his or her family members.
  • Conscious pain and suffering experienced by the deceased between the onset of their final injury and eventual death.

In some cases, courts award punitive damages, not as compensation for the financial and emotional costs of the injury, but to punish the defendant for malicious, willful, or reckless conduct.

Boston Wrongful Death FAQ

People die suddenly in tragic accidents each day. Not all sudden deaths fall under the umbrella of wrongful death. A wrongful death occurs when someone dies because of negligence or intentional harm. Eligible survivors can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the person, business, or other parties responsible for the death of their family member. These lawsuits can compensate families for economic and non-economic losses related to the death of their family member.

Various circumstances cause fatal injuries and serve as grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Examples of events that commonly lead to wrongful death claims include:

  • Motor vehicle accidents, including car, truck, and motorcycle crashes
  • Pedestrian and bicycle accidents
  • Workplace accidents and occupational illness
  • Swimming accidents
  • Medical malpractice
  • Nursing home neglect/abuse
  • Drug overdose
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Defective product accidents
  • Willful harm

The defining characteristic of a wrongful death claim is that the decedent must have had grounds for a civil lawsuit had they survived the event that led to their death.

Massachusetts has a three-year statute of limitations for eligible surviving family members to bring a lawsuit against the party allegedly responsible for the death of their loved one. If you lost a loved one because of the City of Boston’s negligence, you must file a claim with the city within two years of the event that led to your loved one’s death.

It is always a good idea to take action and consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. As time passes, investigating the claim becomes more difficult. Evidence fades or disappears, and witnesses forget important details, move away, or die. Additionally, a Massachusetts court probably will not hear your wrongful death case if you let the statute of limitations run out. Exceptions to the rule rarely apply, and you and your family risk losing the opportunity to receive compensation for your losses related to the death of your loved one.

Under Massachusetts law, the executor or administrator of the estate of your loved one must bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party responsible for the loss of your loved one. Family members usually cannot directly bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible individual, business, or entity. If the court rules for the plaintiff, the estate then distributes court-awarded damages to eligible family members.

Massachusetts law does not require an autopsy to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against another party. However, depending on the events or situation surrounding the death of your loved one, the medical examiner or district attorney might order an autopsy as part of an investigation.

If they do not order an autopsy, your lawyer may advise you to consent for one anyway. Autopsies provide valuable evidence to prove your case by clearing up questions about the cause and time of death.

Sometimes the cause of death is clear without an autopsy, so an autopsy may not be necessary. However, an autopsy is almost always needed to establish liability in cases involving medical malpractice, defective medical devices, or other medical scenarios.

Every wrongful death case has underlying factors that impact the amount of time it takes to settle a claim or go to trial, making it impossible to pinpoint an exact time frame. Some common factors that impact the timeline of a wrongful death claim include:

Establishing Liability

Determining fault and financial responsibility is often the factor most likely to increase the timeline for a wrongful death case. Insurance companies worry about their bottom line and will take every measure to avoid paying out a claim, especially a high-value wrongful death claim.

They will defend their policyholder to avoid financial liability and do everything they can to shift blame to the deceased or another party. If the defendant denies responsibility for the death of your loved one, your wrongful death claim will likely go to trial. Contacting witnesses, scheduling court dates, and general case preparation can take several months, sometimes longer.

Limits of Insurance Policies

Most wrongful death claims will involve an insurance company. For example, an auto insurance carrier would become involved if your loved one died in a traffic accident. Similarly, if your loved one died from medical negligence, a malpractice insurance carrier would be involved. Homeowners’ and commercial property insurance carriers are involved in wrongful death claims if someone dies on their policyholder’s property.

Each policy has different limits, and they vary greatly. Regardless of the policy limit, insurance carriers will try to avoid paying a claim. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the policy limit, the more an insurance carrier will fight to avoid financial responsibility. This leads to prolonged negotiations and more administrative paperwork, lengthening the timeline it takes to resolve the wrongful death claim.

Lowball Settlement Offers

Insurance carriers investigate each claim they receive. Before negotiations begin, they have a good idea of whether their policyholder should be financially liable for damages from a wrongful death. To avoid paying a high-dollar settlement or a potentially higher jury award, they sometimes offer families a quick settlement soon after the death of a loved one.

These lowball offers tempt families to take some money and give up all their legal rights for additional compensation. The offers are often far lower than the value of the case. Still, families who struggle financially after losing a loved one sometimes accept these predatory offers to get the funds they need to pay bills and provide for their household.

Usually, it is good to consider early offers a starting point for negotiations. Your Boston wrongful death lawyer can help negotiate a fair settlement that accounts for all of your losses.

If you initiate a wrongful death lawsuit after losing your loved one, you could receive compensation for various damages related to the loss. Each claim is different, so your lawyer can advise you on which damages apply to your case. Under Massachusetts law, these eligible family members could receive compensation:

  • Loss of expected net income from the deceased
  • Loss of service
  • Loss of protection, care, and assistance
  • Loss of comfort, guidance, counsel, and advice
  • Loss of society and companionship, especially for surviving spouses
  • Reasonable funeral and burial expenses of the deceased

You could also receive compensation if you paid bills for ambulance service, emergency room treatment, hospitalization, surgery, or other related expenses before your loved one died.

Punitive damages refer to compensation the court awards a plaintiff to deter future negligent behavior by the defendant. Depending on the situation, you may be able to seek punitive damages for the wrongful death of your loved one.

Under Massachusetts law, the decedent’s death must have occurred because of “malicious, willful, wanton, or reckless conduct” to qualify for punitive damages. Gross negligence also justifies a court to award punitive damages, although there are exceptions to these rules. Your Boston wrongful death lawyer can review your case and determine your eligibility to sue for punitive damages. In Massachusetts, the minimum amount of punitive damages in a wrongful death claim is $5,000.

Not all sudden deaths occur because of intentional harm or negligence.

For your loved one’s estate to win a wrongful death claim, the estate must:

  • Prove your loved one died, usually with an official death certificate.
  • Prove that the negligence or intentional conduct of another person, business, or entity caused the death of your loved one.
  • Prove you suffered harm because of the death of your loved one. Harm includes economic damages like expenses and lost income, and non-economic losses, such as loss of society and loss of service.

If your family member died from a fatal injury related to wanton harm such as assault, abuse, or violence, you likely have a viable wrongful death claim. Traffic accidents and other events that lead to wrongful death are not always as clear. Your Boston wrongful death lawyer must prove the elements above for you to receive settlement compensation or court-awarded damages. Various circumstances can impact the validity of your wrongful death case, so consulting with a lawyer can give you insight into your legal options.

In some situations, spouses have legal recourse against the employer after a wrongful death. However, workers’ compensation insurance prevents wrongful death lawsuits against employers in most cases.

Workers’ compensation does not prevent lawsuits against third parties responsible for wrongful death, so you still might have a claim against a contractor, property owner, or another related business.

For example, if your spouse died from exposure to hazardous substances or defective equipment, you could have a wrongful death claim against the product manufacturer. Your Boston wrongful death lawyer will review the facts of your claim and advise you on potential third parties that could be liable for your loved one’s death.

Yes, you can probably afford the legal help they need after losing a loved one due to wrongful death. Some families choose not to take action because they worry about the cost of a lawyer. Unfortunately, this means they miss out on the chance to recover damages from a liable party. Money does not bring back a loved one, but it can help with living expenses and other financial struggles that sometimes come with the sudden loss of a family member.

You may enter a contingent fee agreement if you hire a Boston wrongful death lawyer. A contingent fee agreement allows your attorney to deduct their fees and other representation costs from any settlement money or jury award you receive. This means that you do not have to pay your lawyer in advance. Do not let money stop you from reaching out to an experienced Boston wrongful death lawyer today.

Let Finkelstein & Partners Put 60 Years of Experience to Work for You In Your Boston Wrongful Death Claim

New York Wrongful Death lawyer
Boston Wrongful Death Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

Since 1959, the experienced lawyers at Finkelstein & Partners have helped well over 2,000 families obtain the compensation they need to move forward with their lives after tragic accidents, including wrongful death. While no amount of money can ever replace the love and companionship of your loved one, it can provide for your family, secure an education for your children, and allow the quality of life that your loved one would have wanted for you.

We understand that many people hesitate to hire an attorney to assist them in obtaining compensation because they fear that they can’t afford attorney’s fees.

We are pleased to ensure access to our services for anyone who needs them by providing:

  • A free case evaluation. This is a no-obligation conversation that you can have with one of our Boston wrongful death lawyers to learn more about the wrongful death claims process, receive answers to your legal questions, and obtain information about the additional services we can provide you.
  • A contingency-fee arrangement. Per this fee arrangement, we will never charge you for our services unless we secure a successful outcome in your case. Our fee comes from a percentage of your recovery, so we only get paid if you do.

Call us to discuss your Boston wrongful death claim and your legal options for seeking compensation in your case. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (877) 472-3061.

Boston Office
15 Court Square, Suite 800A
Boston, MA 02108