Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Vermont?

Posted by: Jul 15, 2019Articles & Advice

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Vermont

The unexpected loss of a loved one is devastating, heartbreaking, and overwhelming.

While no legal action will ever be able to make up for the death of a family member, negligent parties must be held accountable.

A wrongful death lawsuit allows close relatives of the victim to seek justice and financial support.

Unfortunately, not everyone who was close to the victim has a legal right to file a wrongful death claim. Indeed, our state has strict laws regarding who should file such a lawsuit.

In this article, our experienced Vermont wrongful death attorneys answer the question: who can file a wrongful death claim in Vermont?

Vermont Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Understanding Eligibility

Vermont’s wrongful death statute allows loved ones of the victim to hold negligent parties legally liable for a fatal accident. That being said, only certain parties are granted legal rights under the state’s wrongful death act. More specifically, under Vermont law (14 V.S.A. § 1492), wrongful death claims must be filed by a ‘personal representative’ of the deceased.

Who exactly is a personal representative? For the purposes of Vermont’s wrongful death statute, a personal representative is a responsible party who can essentially manage the claim. In some cases, a personal representative will be outlined in the victim’s will or in other related estate planning documents. In other cases, a personal representative will be selected by the court.

Regardless, it is important to understand that the personal representative is acting on the behalf of surviving family members. In many cases, the next of kin, such as a spouse, will act as the personal representative. Though, that does not necessarily have to be the case. 

What Damages are Available Through a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Vermont, wrongful death damages are issued for the benefit of the deceased victim’s surviving spouse and other immediate family members. Depending on the specific nature of the wrongful death, damages may be issued to spouses, children, or parents. Generally, these are primary parties in a wrongful death lawsuit. But, there are exceptions: in some cases, other family members such as grandparents or siblings may have the right to recover wrongful death damages. Notably, wrongful death compensation may be recovered for a wide range of different damages, including:

  • Direct economic losses, such as medical bills;
  • Funeral and burial expenses;
  • Lost wages and loss of financial benefits; and
  • Loss of love, companionship, care, and
    consortium.

One of the many things that makes wrongful death claims especially challenging is that the damages are primarily not economic in nature. The actual monetary loss associated with a wrongful death is almost always minimal when compared to the immense emotional loss. As such, these claims can be difficult to value.

Sadly, large corporations and big insurance companies frequently try to take advantage of the complexity by undervaluing the damages that don’t come with a specific price tag. . They often fail to offer adequate compensation for non-economic damages such as loss of love or loss of companionship. It is imperative that family members of the deceased seek representation from an experienced Vermont wrongful death lawyer who knows how to get justice.  

Vermont Wrongful Death Claims With Multiple Eligible Parties

In some wrongful death cases, there is only one eligible party. As a simple example, if a married adult has no children and no other financial dependents, their spouse may be the sole party covered by wrongful death claim. However, in other cases, there are multiple eligible parties. This can make things more complicated.

Ultimately, how the wrongful death compensation will be divided depends on many different factors. Although, it is important to remember that no matter of the number of potential eligible parties covered by the claim, only one wrongful death lawsuit will be heard by the court.

That lawsuit must be filed by the ‘personal representative’ of the deceased — whether the entirety of the wrongful death compensation is issued to one party or if it is divided across multiple parties.

When more than one party is covered by the wrongful death claim, they will typically be encouraged to work closely with counsel to determine the appropriate and fair apportionment of the wrongful death settlement or wrongful death verdict. If, for whatever reason, these parties cannot come to an acceptable arrangement, a Vermont court will make the final decision.

How Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help

Our Vermont wrongful death lawyers are compassionate, supportive, and attentive advocates for our clients. We understand that no amount of compensation will ever come anywhere close to making up for your family’s devastating loss.

We work tirelessly and use all forms of proven technique to get to the heart of what those losses are and to convey them to people in a way they can understand and relate to. This is perhaps the wrongful death lawyer’s greatest challenge, and one that we have worked trained all over the country to master.

We know that justice must be served and that our clients need access to the full financial support that is available under the law. Our Vermont wrongful death attorneys are committed to providing the highest quality of professional service and legal representation. Among other things, we will:

● Conduct a free, completely confidential review of your case;

● Explain your rights to you, including your eligibility to bring a Vermont wrongful death claim;

● Investigate the underlying accident, obtaining any relevant evidence;

● Employ the top experts in their fields from throughout the United States;

● Dive deep into and learn the true personal story of loss and how to impactfully tell it to a jury in a way that they can relate to, and

● Build a strong, effective legal case.

The majority of wrongful death lawsuits are settled outside of the courtroom. In most cases, reaching a full settlement will allow a family to get quicker access to the financial support that they need. We have extensive experience handling wrongful death settlement negotiations.

Our law firm is committed to getting justice and the maximum compensation for our clients. At the same time, our Vermont wrongful death lawyers are trial-tested. We are always ready for litigation.

Get Help From Our Vermont Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

At Sabbeth Law, our Vermont wrongful death attorneys are compassionate, effective advocates for our clients. We are prepared to handle all aspects of your legal case while you focus on your family. To set up a fully confidential initial consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our legal team today.

We serve all communities in Vermont, including in Windsor County, Windham County, Rutland County, and Orange County, Washington County, Windham County, Addison County and on from there.