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What to Do If a Loved One Is Killed in an Accident

If a loved one was recently killed in an accident, our law firm sends their sincere condolences to you and your family. You’re undoubtedly grieving, and you likely have questions about what to do next.

Below, the Rhode Island injury lawyers at Gemma Law discuss what steps to take following the loss of a loved one as well as compensation options for surviving family members. 

Build a Support Network

There’s a lot to do, but no one person should have to shoulder this burden alone. Get other family members involved; it may be helpful to delegate tasks.

For example, one person can handle the care of surviving dependents and/or pets; another can notify friends and family, etc.

Here’s a list of things that will need to be addressed within a few days:

  • You’ll need to arrange transportation for the body; contact a mortuary or crematorium for assistance
  • Contact your loved one’s employer regarding benefits, payments due, and life insurance
  • Cancel utilities and/or other automated services if the deceased has open accounts
  • Address your loved one’s financial situation; banks typically freeze accounts once notified and will only take instruction from someone authorized to act on behalf of the deceased’s estate
  • If available, locate the estate plans or a will. Getting these things in order may include probate or letters of administration from a court, if no formal plans exist

Depending on the circumstances, formal estate planning may or may not be available to help guide you through your loved one’s final wishes. In the event no formal planning exists, a trust or estate attorney can help.

Wrongful Death Claims

A wrongful death claim in Rhode Island is defined as “one that is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”

Workplace accidents and vehicle crashes, for example, are common precursors to a wrongful death claim.

When someone (or a company) is responsible for the death of another, a wrongful death claim can help secure necessary financial compensation.

Damages for a wrongful death claim might include money for:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses related to the injury or illness of the deceased
  • Lost wages and/or benefits of the deceased
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of care and companionship
  • Punitive damages (damages intended to punish the defendant)

Additionally, it’s important to understand who can file a wrongful death claim in Rhode Island. The executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate is typically the one who files the claim. However, if estate plans have not been made or if no executor or administrator is named, surviving family members may also file.

In either case, a claim can only be established to benefit surviving family members (e.g., children, souses, parents, grandparent, or other heirs at law).

If you plan to file a wrongful death claim, it’s critical to do so as soon as you believe negligence was involved.

According to Rhode Island General Laws, all wrongful death claims must be filed “within three years of the time that the wrongful act, neglect, or default is discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered.” 

Contacting an experienced wrongful death attorney can be a critical step toward filing a viable claim. Claims filed beyond this time allotment are commonly dismissed.

Justice You and Your Family Deserve

At Gemma Law, we’ve been protecting the rights of injured people and their families for more than 40 years. We understand how impossible the road ahead might seem, but we’re here to help in any way we can.

Even if you don’t think you can afford an attorney, give our Providence office a call at 401-400-3329.

Initial consultations are always free; if we take your case, you don’t pay anything until we win.  

While no amount of money can replace your loss, financial compensation can help ease recovery while adjusting to life without your loved one.

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  • Peter Gemma

    Peter Gemma is a personal injury attorney in Rhode Island, and is a Principal at Gemma Law Associates, Inc. He has over 30 years of legal experience, as well as bar admission to practice in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Peter’s specialty areas include personal injury, products liability, and construction accidents. You can reach him at peter@gemmalaw.com.

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