Wrongful Death Lawyer
Luckily, Vermont law provides a way to hold the at-fault person responsible in a court of law and recover compensation for the losses that you and your family have suffered.
”Drew is friendly and kind—not your average lawyer. I have confidence that he cares about each of his clients. Anyone would be lucky to have Drew as an ally in difficult times.~ Elisabeth W.
Our team at Champlain Valley Law has years of experience representing families who have wrongful death claims. Below is our breakdown of everything you need to know about filing a wrongful death claim in Vermont.
When a Death is Legally “Wrongful”
In Vermont, wrongful death is defined as:
"When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of a person or corporation, and the act, neglect, or default is such as would have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, if death had not ensued…"
In other words, if someone’s death is caused by the wrongful act of another, and the deceased person would have been able to sue if they were still alive, then the person responsible can be held liable in civil court for the death. The conduct of the person or business responsible is held to the same standard as in any other injury case, such as a car crash or slip and fall. The difference is that the injuries result in death.
Essentially, this wrongful death statute provides for the survival of a personal injury lawsuit in Burlington and across Vermont. Since the deceased person cannot file suit on their own behalf, a family member will typically open an estate and be granted the right to file the claim on behalf of the estate.
In order to file a wrongful death claim against someone, you will need evidence that their negligent or wrongful actions led to the death in question. An experienced wrongful death attorney can work with you to prove that this person was responsible for your loved one’s death.
Statute of Limitations
Many lawsuits have a “statute of limitations,” which means there is a time limit governing how long after the incident you can file your lawsuit.
Vermont law defines the statute of limitations for wrongful death as 2 years:
- In most circumstances, a wrongful death claim must be filed within 2 years of the discovery of the death. Even if the person died several years ago, if the death was only discovered recently, then you still have two years before the time limit is up.
- If the person responsible for the death is not in the state, the time limit can be extended.
- If there is a separate criminal homicide charge against the person responsible for the death, then the time limit is extended to 7 years, or 2 years after the criminal trial ends.
A wrongful death lawyer will work to ensure that your lawsuit is prepared and filed within the limitations period. However, it is wise to begin working with an attorney well before the deadline approaches.
Who Receives Compensation From a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims are filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. If the deceased person never named a personal representative, the court can appoint one for them.
Vermont’s law also outlines who compensation should go to in a wrongful death claim:
- The deceased person’s surviving spouse
- The deceased person’s children
- If there are no surviving spouse or children, the deceased person’s parents
Financial support can help compensate the survivors for work and practical support the deceased person could have offered, as well as the suffering they experienced as a result of their loved one’s death.
Here are some examples of damages that a deceased person’s family can recover:
- Lost income
- Child care
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Emotional support
- Loss of companionship
Contact Burlington Wrongful Death Attorney Drew Palcsik
The good news is that you don’t have to go through all of this alone. An experienced wrongful death attorney like Drew Palcsik will be able to help you find a representative for your loved one’s estate, file your lawsuit, and prepare your case. He will collect evidence and answer questions from insurance companies, investigators, and others, leaving you more time to focus on your family during this difficult time.