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Any of the cases discussed on this page can, of course, involve death as well as injury. If a person is killed, because of someone else’s carelessness or because of a defective product, special laws apply.
In Nevada, N.R.S. 41.085 provides for the following:
Those relatives of the killed person who qualify as “intestate heirs” can each sue the wrong-doer(s) for money damages for the relative’s grief or sorrow, loss of probable support, companionship, society, comfort and consortium, and damages for pain, suffering or disfigurement of the decedent.
Intestate heirs are either spouses or those blood relatives of the killed person who could inherit from the killed person in the absence of a will. These are generally the closest blood relatives. Except for legally adopted children and spouses, intestate heirs must be blood relatives.
These claims can be made directly against the wrongdoer(s) without setting up an estate and these claims are not subject to any debts of the killed person, including medical bills.
The killed person’s probate estate can make a claim against the wrongdoer(s) for funeral expenses, medical expenses and other specific claims for expenses (special damages in lawyer talk). The killed person’s probate estate can also make claims for punitive damages. These claims made by the estate are subject to all claims against the killed person such as medical bills, contract claims etc.
As a practical matter, most cases will be resolved with payment only to the heirs and not to the probate estate. But, at the outset of a case there may be some chance of winning punitive damages. The prospect of punitive damages could be remote or very strong. In either case, to preserve that claim, it will be necessary to set up a probate estate and have it set up before the statute of limitations runs.
Since our firm also does probate cases, if we handle a wrongful death case we also set up the probate estate without charging a separate fee. Most other personal injury law firms have to pay a probate law firm to set up the probate estate.
Except in medical malpractice cases there is no limit to the amount of damages that can be awarded for grief and loss of companionship in wrongful death cases.