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Las Vegas Wrongful Death Claims

Case Law Interpreting the Nevada Wrongful Death Statute

There have been several cases in which the Nevada Supreme Court has interpreted Nevada's Wrongful Death Statute. Here are some of the Court's decisions which have been made over the years: In a Nevada wrongful death claim, the heirs' damages, based on the lost earning capacity of the decedent, can include present and future loss of support. In Nevada, since common law does not provide a wrongful death cause of action, Nevada's statutory remedy is exclusive and the types of damages listed in the wrongful death statute are exclusive. With respect to the Nevada Wrongful death statute, for pain and suffering to warrant compensation in a Nevada wrongful death claim, the pain and suffering has to be consciously experienced. This means that under the pain and suffering provision, plaintiffs may only recover for that part of the "loss of the hedonic value of human life" the decedent consciously experienced before he or she died.

The Supreme Court of Nevada has allowed the use of an economist to assist in determining the damages in a Nevada wrongful death claim. In Nevada, the word "heirs" (as stated under the former and similar wrongful death statute) included an illegitimate child irrespective of the lack of formal acknowledgement by the deceased father of the child. The right of action under a former Nevada wrongful death statute was personal and not community property. This means that one spouse's contributory negligence cannot bar recovery by the other spouse. In a claim for wrongful death, Nevada has expressly recognized that pecuniary loss can go beyond the contributions of shelter, food, money or property, and that the society, care and attention of the deceased are viable "services" to the survivor bearing a financial value, which may be compensated. The common law gave no remedy in damages for a wrongful death suit, so whatever standing the plaintiffs may have is found in the wrongful death statute of Nevada. The remedy, exists purely by statute and is therefore is exclusive. (Note the above rules are always subject to change by later decisions - Consult a Las Vegas Lawyer to get the current law on any Nevada personal injury issue).

Contact David Matheny, Esq. for a free consultation.

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