New Hampshire law provides two paths to recovering damages from someone who negligently or intentionally caused the death of another person. One is a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate, and the other is a direct claim that may be filed for damages to the surviving spouse and/or minor children.
New Hampshire law allows the estate to recover a wide range of damages, unlike the narrow damages available to the estate in a Massachusetts wrongful death case . In New Hampshire, the estate may be awarded damages including:
This is not an exhaustive list of damages available. The estate can generally pursue the same sorts of damages the deceased could have if they had survived and filed a personal injury claim.
This type of claim is typically filed by the personal representative of the estate. But, if the personal representative doesn’t pursue a claim, New Hampshire law allows any party with an interest in the estate to do so.
The surviving spouse and/or the representative of a minor child of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim. However, the damages available in such a case are quite limited, in part because many types of damages that are available to surviving family members in some other states belong to the estate in New Hampshire.
The spouse and children can claim damages for loss of the relationship with the deceased. The exact language describing damages available to the spouse and damages available to the children is slightly different, but all based on the loss of relationship, such as loss of comfort, guidance, society and companionship.
Damages are capped at $150,000 for the surviving spouse and $50,000 for each child.
While the damages and the filing party are different in the two types of New Hampshire wrongful death claims, there is one important common element: the person filing suit must prove that the defendant is liable under the state’s wrongful death statute. For example, if the death occurred in a motor vehicle accident, the plaintiff would have to prove that the defendant operated the vehicle negligently, and that their negligence was the cause of the injury and resulting death.
This can be a complicated process, and may involve the use of expert witnesses. Exactly what is required to prove liability will depend on the cause of death and the specifics of the event.
Once the defendant’s negligence is established, the plaintiff will have to establish damages. For economic damages such as medical expenses and lost future earnings, you will be required to present concrete evidence of the amount of damages. To establish lost future earnings, you will likely need an economic expert to create and present projections.
Whether you are the personal representative of an estate, another interested party, a surviving spouse, or someone pursuing damages on behalf of minor children of the deceased, your best first step is to talk to an experienced wrongful death lawyer. The substantive and procedural law involved in a wrongful death case are very different from those in estate proceedings, and your probate attorney may not have the knowledge and experience you need to maximize your claim.
Attorney Kevin P. Broderick has devoted his career to helping injury victims and those who have lost loved ones through someone else’s fault. To learn more about how he can help, schedule your free consultation right now. Just call 978-459-3085 right now, or fill out the contact form on this page.
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