Each state has drafted its own set of civil "wrongful death statutes," and some form of wrongful death claim action exists in all state jurisdictions today. While they all follow similar principles, each state jurisdiction is unique, so laws will vary from state to state. There are no federal statutes for wrongful death.

A wrongful death could occur as a result of a variety of situations, including:


  • Medical malpractice that results in decedent's death.
  • Neglect or abuse on the part of a nursing home that results in decendent's death.
  • Automobile, bus, train airplane or other common carrier accident.
  • Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances (exposure to asbestos, etc.).
  • Death during a supervised activity (sports tournament, field trip, etc.).



An action for wrongful death alleges that the decedent was killed as a result of the negligence (or other liability) on the defendant's part, and that the decedent's immediate family members (often called "distributees") are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant's conduct. The most common distributees are surviving spouses and children, and sometimes parents. A suit for wrongful death may only be brought by the personal representative (executor) of the decedent's estate. But, actions for personal injury (survival actions), conscious pain and suffering, or expenses incurred prior to the decedent's death are also typically brought.

Pecuniary (financial) injury is the main way damages in a wrongful death action are awarded. Courts have interpreted "pecuniary injuries" as including the loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses. Damages also typically include interest from the date of the decedent's death. Punitive damages may also be awarded in cases of serious or malicious wrong-doing to punish the wrong-doer, and/or deter others from behaving similarly.

Any damages awarded belong to the estate and pass as directed by the decedent's will or by state law if such things are not specified in the will.

If a loved one has died after an accident or injury caused by the negligence or misconduct of another individual, company or entity, you should retain Paul Ryan & Associates Attorneys at Law right away. There are time limitations in filing your wrongful death lawsuit in Missoula & Boseman, MT, as well as other legal implications. Contact Paul Ryan & Associates Attorneys at Law to provide legal advice on your needs and legal situation.

Thousands of injuries occur every year in the United States as a result of medical malpractice involving doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and other medical and hospital staff. However, less than 10% of them are investigated by a medical malpractice lawyer specializing in medical malpractice claims because of the complicated legalities involved. The standard definition for medical malpractice is where a person has suffered an injury which they would not have otherwise suffered had the care not been negligent. The medical doctor, nurse, anethesiologist, medical or hospital worker is considered negligent if the care falls below the minimum standard of skill or care which medical profession regards as acceptable.

Once medical malpractice has been proven, it is necessary to show that the damage has been caused as a result of negligence, which is difficult because the patient was already ill when the negligent treatment started. Typically, the medical malpractice lawyer will show the natural progression of the underlying condition and what the outcome would have been if the patient received proper treatment to establish what a difference the negligence made. However, the definition for medical malpractice differs from state to state, and so does the statute of limitation. The best thing to do if you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered negligence at the hands of a medical professional is to consult with Paul Ryan & Associates Attorneys at Law in Missoula & Boseman, MT.