If you have lost a loved one as a result of an accident that was not their fault, it may be possible and appropriate to pursue related claims for damages against the responsible party. At Markette & Chouinard, we have handled wrongful death and survivorship claims, and we understand how difficult it is to deal with a sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one. We recognize that foremost in your mind is the loss of your loved one and likely not pursuing legal claims. Our role is to respect your grieving process and appreciate the tragedy you have experienced while taking the labor on to illustrate the full scope of the damages the loss of your loved one has levied on you and your family and seek recovery.
To put this process in context, it is important to understand that when a death results from the negligent or wrongful act of another, there are generally two types of claims that may be pursued under Montana law: survivorship and wrongful death. A survivorship claim is personal to the individual who has died and seeks damages personal to that individual, including any pain or suffering experienced between the wrongful act and death. Because a survivorship claim belongs to the person who experiences death, any damages recovered passes to heirs according to the terms of the deceased person’s will or the laws of intestacy if the person dies without a will.
A wrongful death claim is distinguishable from this type of claim in that it seeks damages that reflect the personal loss of the survivors as a result of the individual’s death. There are limitations on which survivors are entitled to claim damages. Unlike survivorship damages, wrongful death damages belong to survivors entitled to pursue such claims.
Even though survivorship and wrongful death claims are distinct, in 1987, the Montana legislature adopted a “one action rule” requiring survivorship and wrongful death claims to be pursued in a single action. Under Montana law, only duly appointed personal representatives of the estate of a deceased person may pursue survivorship and wrongful death claims. Therefore, in order to pursue a wrongful death or survivorship claim it is necessary to open a probate action and appoint a personal representative who is solely able and responsible to pursue these types of claims.
At Markette & Chouinard, P.C. we assist you and your family at every stage of the process. It is our goal to take on the burden of navigating the legal process associated with pursuing wrongful death and survivorship claims while you deal with the emotions and pain of losing a loved one.
Fees in wrongful death and survivorship cases are charged on a “contingent” basis, meaning we do not charge a fee unless and until we recover money for you (and other survivors) and/or the deceased party’s estate. Consultations regarding wrongful death and survivorship claims are always free.