Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Las Vegas? Here Is What You Need to Know

February 8, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Las Vegas? Here Is What You Need to Know

The sudden and unexpected death of a loved one can cause immense grief and pain for the family. When a person’s negligence causes the death, the family may have the right to seek justice through a wrongful death lawsuit. If you have suffered the wrongful death of a family member in Las Vegas, you may wonder who can file a wrongful death lawsuit and what it entails.

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Wrongful Death Claims in Las Vegas, Nevada

The tragic loss of a loved one due to the reckless or intentional actions of another is one of the most devastating events anyone can experience. Wrongful death lawsuits seek to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and provide justice and compensation to surviving family members. But what exactly does this term mean, and when is a wrongful death suit warranted? Wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to the negligent or reckless conduct of another. A wrongful death claim provides compensation to the estate of a deceased person. In contrast, criminal cases focus on punishing the perpetrator and the community’s safety, not providing compensation. In Las Vegas, wrongful death suits can be initiated by family members, or in some cases, by a representative of the deceased’s estate.

Causes of Wrongful Death

Common examples of wrongful death include medical malpractice, construction site accidents, automobile accidents, defective product injuries, and crimes. In these types of cases, the deceased’s family can file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for economic losses such as lost wages, medical expenses, and burial costs. Furthermore, non-economic damages such as emotional pain and suffering may also be sought by filing a wrongful death suit. An experienced Las Vegas wrongful death lawyer must review claims to meet all applicable statutes of limitation. When someone’s life has been taken as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions, the family may seek justice through a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death can result from motorcycle crashes, truck accidents, and medical malpractice- to name a few. No matter the circumstances surrounding the death, an experienced Las Vegas wrongful death attorney can evaluate your case and discuss options with you and your family. Contact an attorney today who can help guide you through this process and assist you in obtaining justice for your loved one.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Las Vegas?

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Las Vegas Here Is What You Need to KnowIn Las Vegas, Nevada, the only parties who may bring a wrongful death action are the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate and the deceased victim’s intestate heirs, the legal term for their surviving family. If a married person is wrongfully killed, that person’s surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children would be the heirs. If the victim is unmarried and childless, then their heirs would be (in order of seniority): the parents of the deceased, siblings of the deceased, and then the closest surviving family member who is not a parent or sibling. Unfortunately, significant others, fiancées, and close friends are ineligible to bring claims, even if they are named as beneficiaries in the victim’s will. To determine who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Las Vegas, it is best to have your claim reviewed by a knowledgeable Las Vegas lawyer familiar with Nevada laws and statutes of limitation.

What Does a Wrongful Death Claim Entail?

When someone you love is killed due to another’s negligence, it can be a devastating experience. While the law cannot bring your loved one back, it can provide some financial relief for the losses associated with the wrongful death of your loved one. In Las Vegas, families can file a wrongful death suit to seek monetary compensation. A wrongful death claim would be tried in civil court. When investigators look at the carelessness that caused death, if it rises to the level of criminal negligence or there is evidence of malice involved, the district attorney’s office might file a criminal complaint or take the death to a jury for a criminal indictment. Since a wrongful death claim is tried in a civil court rather than a criminal court, the trials are held autonomously. However, if a guilty verdict is obtained in criminal court, that verdict may be presented to the jury of the civil trial.

Four Elements Must Be Proven in a Las Vegas Wrongful Death Claim

To win a wrongful death suit in court, the jury must believe that the defendant was liable—meaning at fault. For the court to find the defendant liable, the court must find that four elements are true:
  1. The person’s death has been confirmed (they cannot be simply missing or presumed dead),
  2. The death was caused by negligence or carelessness—even if unintentional,
  3. The plaintiff is an heir or personal representative of the decedent, and
  4. The plaintiff suffered financial and/or emotional damages as a result of the death.

When Can a Wrongful Death Claim be Filed?

In Nevada, wrongful death plaintiffs generally have two years from the decedent’s death to sue for wrongful death. Several types of damages are available to wrongful death claimants. These can include compensation for medical and funeral expenses, lost income and benefits, loss of companionship and society, and the pain and suffering of the deceased before their passing. However, pain and suffering must be consciously experienced to be compensable in a Nevada wrongful death action.

Exclusive Statutory Remedy

Nevada practices exclusive statutory remedy for wrongful death—no remedy outside of what is listed in the statutes can be sought. This includes the statute that only certain family members or appointed executors can recover damages under the state’s wrongful death laws. For those filing a wrongful death claim in Las Vegas, having an experienced lawyer review your claim is essential. The statute of limitations (the time limit to bring a claim) and complex legal rules surrounding a wrongful death suit mean it is critical to have an experienced Las Vegas lawyer guide you through the process and help you secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Who May Pursue What Kind of Compensation?

In filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Las Vegas, the victim’s family members may receive compensation for their losses. Nevada laws set out various types of compensation that heirs may be entitled to in a wrongful death case.

When Can a Personal Representative File a Lawsuit?

Under Nevada’s statutes, if a person dies due to another party’s negligent conduct, the decedent’s“personal representative can file a lawsuit on behalf of the estate. The personal representative can also file on behalf of the surviving family members—if there are no known living family members or if the family members cannot understand and carry out all the necessary duties due to illness or disability. This representative is usually an executor previously chosen and named in the will of the deceased.

Types of Compensation

If a victim’s estate sues for wrongful death in Nevada, the estate may recover:
  • Financial compensation such as medical bills or expenses that the deceased person incurred prior to death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Compensatory damages that the victim would have recovered from the defendant had they not died
  • Punitive damages that the victim would have recovered from the defendant had they not died
Heirs who sue may be able to recover damages for pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of probable future financial support by the victim (such as from lost wages, health insurance, or loss of royalty payments that are no longer enforceable), loss of companionship, comfort, as well as grief or sorrow endured.

Survival Actions

Some cases may involve survival actions, which the deceased person’s estate brings, in addition to wrongful death claims.

How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

If you believe that a loved one passed away due to another party’s gross negligence or misconduct, review your claim with a skilled Las Vegas wrongful death lawyer. An attorney can pursue the maximum amount of compensation available to you under Nevada’s statutes. Statutes of limitation may affect your right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced lawyer can file your claim on time and protect all your rights.

A Lawyer Will Advocate for You

At a time of loss, the last thing a family needs to worry about is navigating the complexities of the law surrounding wrongful death suits. These cases require legal counsel experienced in navigating the complexities surrounding wrongful death and the financial and emotional damages sustained. Hiring an experienced lawyer also allows you and your family to grieve, celebrate the deceased’s life, and honor their memory. A personl injury lawyer can tell you when a personal representative may file a lawsuit on behalf of the estate. A wrongful death attorney can also explain the compensation available to families of wrongful death victims and how to proceed if the state files criminal charges. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can provide essential guidance throughout the process and fully protect your rights.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.