If someone dies unexpectedly due to someone else's negligence or recklessness, it is a tragedy that often affects others. New Hampshire law restricts financial damages in some wrongful death cases, but a challenge has changed the state's approach to compensation.
What are damages in a wrongful death lawsuit?
If a person or organization is found to be responsible in part or in full for someone's death, he, she or it may be financially liable in two ways. Compensatory damages are designed to cover the loss of a person's value, such as earning potential or a dependent's loss of support. Punitive damages exist to incentivize responsible parties and others to avoid reckless and dangerous behavior.
What was the restriction on damages in New Hampshire?
A section of New Hampshire's state code revised in 1997 limited possible damages in a wrongful death lawsuit to $50,000 or less if the deceased person had no direct survivor or dependents. There was no restriction on the amount of damages if a person was survived by a spouse, child, parent or immediate relative.
What was the challenge to this rule?
The Supreme Court of New Hampshire ruled on the challenge of an executor to an estate left by a man who died in a car accident. Another driver was found responsible, but the financial damages were limited by the rule because there was no direct survivor. The court found the rule to be in violation of the Granite State's constitution.
How can a lawyer help with a wrongful death lawsuit?
An attorney can forward a claim for wrongful death in settlement or a civil court, potentially securing the maximum possible amount of damages if the suit goes in your favor. Legal representation is always recommended when you have to go to court.