How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

If you have lost a loved one, you may be entitled to compensation if that person’s death was the result of someone else’s actions. While taking legal action cannot bring your family member back, there is financial relief that is rightfully yours.

Cloward Trial Lawyers would like to provide you with information on the legal process for filing a wrongful death lawsuit and what to expect.

What is Considered Wrongful Death?

Nevada law considers a person’s death to be a “wrongful death” if it was “caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.”

A wrongful death suit can be brought against another person or entity through acts of negligence, intentional misconduct, or medical malpractice. The liable party may have been behaving carelessly or intentionally caused the decedent’s death.

Unlike a criminal case where a defendant could potentially face jail time, a wrongful death suit is a civil action. In a civil case, if the defendant is found liable, he or she will have to pay monetary damages.

Who is Permitted to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Only certain parties are qualified to file a wrongful death suit. The law varies from state to state on which parties have this right, known as standing.

In Nevada, the following parties are allowed to take legal action:

  • The personal representative (the person named to take care of the deceased’s estate); and
  • Intestate heirs or the victim’s family members*

*The deceased’s spouse or domestic partner and surviving children are eligible to bring a wrongful death claim.

If the deceased was unmarried and had no children, then the following family members are allowed to file a claim:

  • The deceased’s parents
  • The deceased’s siblings
  • The closest surviving family member who is not a parent or sibling

An intestate heir is a person who qualifies under the law to inherit someone’s estate, which differs from a beneficiary named in a will or trust. Certain relations, such as a fiancée, an unmarried partner, or a foster child, do not qualify as intestate heirs.

Wrongful Death versus Survival Action

There are two types of lawsuits that can be filed when a person dies at the fault of another person’s hands. In Nevada, family members may file both wrongful death and survival action suits.

While a wrongful death claim’s purpose is to recover compensation for the losses incurred by the decedent’s death, such as funeral expenses, a survival action serves a different function.

In a survival action, legal recourse is taken as if the deceased lived. It is treated like the deceased is pursuing a personal injury suit and is aiming to be compensated for any injuries that occurred prior to his or her death.

According to Nevada Rev. Stat. §41.100, the following damages may be sought:

  • Any medical expenses which the victim incurred due to the accident or injury
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of probable support
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of comfort
  • Loss of consortium
  • Any penalties or punitive and exemplary damages which the decedent would have recovered if the decedent had lived

Negligence and Wrongful Death

In Nevada, between 2017 and 2022, 519 medical malpractice reports were filed, with many resulting in patient deaths or severe complications.

Most wrongful death cases are caused by negligence. In order to establish negligence, the following must be proven:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim
  • The defendant breached that duty of care
  • Because of the defendant’s breach, the defendant caused the death of your loved one
  • Because of the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff suffered measurable losses

In a medical malpractice case, a physician or health care provider fails to treat the patient with a standard of care that is expected in his or her field. In a wrongful death claim that arises out of medical malpractice, the patient dies as a result of the provider’s negligence.

Although medical malpractice is just one circumstance in which wrongful death occurs, it is a prevalent problem in our country.

What is the Time Limit for a Claim?

In Nevada, you only have two years to file a wrongful death claim from the date of the person’s death or from when you discover the person has died. This time limit is referred to as a statute of limitations.

If you file your claim after the two-year mark, then you will no longer have the right to judicial relief.

However, the statute of limitations does not apply if you were a minor at the time of a person’s death. In this case, the statute of limitations “clock” will start once you turn 18 years old, meaning that you will have to file a claim before the age of 20.

Constructional Defect Law

When a death is caused by faulty construction, a victim’s family may be able to sue. However, a person’s wrongful death must be the direct result of the construction’s deficiency.

Legal actions may be taken against “the owner, occupier, or any person performing or furnishing the design, planning supervision, or observation of construction, or the construction of an improvement to real property at any time after [its] substantial completion.”

Another contractor who works under the scope of the prime contractor, known under the law as a “lower-tiered contractor,” will not be held responsible if they did not know or should not have known about the original defect.

Why Should I Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney?

The passing of a loved one will alter the quality of your life. A wrongful death attorney recognizes that while you cannot bring back your family member, you may be able to benefit from financial assistance.

A wrongful death attorney will conduct a thorough investigation, uncovering the person or parties responsible for your loved one’s death. Through discovery, which is the formal process of exchanging information between both sides, we will be able to construct a strong case.

A strong case has the benefit of likely settling out-of-court, which will save you legal fees and stress. Negotiating a settlement takes less time than taking your case to court, which will allow you to gain closure more quickly.

How Long Does the Entire Process Take?

After your case has been filed with the court, there are a few factors that will determine the length of a wrongful death case:

  • How long it takes to appoint a personal representative of the estate
  • Collecting pertinent evidence, including medical bills and funeral expenses
  • Accessibility of information during discovery
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Negotiating a settlement or preparing the case for trial

A Compassionate Las Vegas Wrongful Death Attorney

The impact of losing a family member cannot be overlooked. Besides losing someone you care deeply about, you may be burdened with medical bills and other expenses. The wrongful death attorneys at Cloward Trial Lawyers are here to assist you through this difficult time. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.


Benjamin P. Cloward

In 2016, at the age of 37, Benjamin P. Cloward became the youngest lawyer in the history of the State of Nevada to be awarded the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Nevada Justice Association. That same year, he became the youngest member of the Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter of ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates), and at the time was also the youngest person in the State of Nevada to be Board Certified as a Personal Injury Specialist.

Practice areas: personal injury, car accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, Greyhound bus accidents, and walk-in tub accidents.
Location: Las Vegas, NV

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Start your Free Case Evaluation by using the form below. You’ll get a fast response from one of our team members or call our office 702-605-5000.

Cloward Trial Lawyers
9950 W Cheyenne Ave Las Vegas, NV 89129

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