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Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney / Blog / Wrongful Death / Who Can Make a Rhode Island Wrongful Death Claim?

Who Can Make a Rhode Island Wrongful Death Claim?


In Rhode Island, surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death claim if their loved one died due to another person’s negligence, recklessness, malpractice, or lack of action. For instance, when an individual dies as a result of a drunk driver’s impairment, the deceased’s dependents may have the right to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation.

A wrongful death lawsuit can stem from a car accident, motorcycle crash, medical malpractice, or any other accident involving any form of negligence, recklessness, or misconduct. But who has the first right to file a wrongful death claim in Rhode Island to recover damages?

Who Has the First Right to Make a Wrongful Death Claim?

In Rhode Island, the estate of the deceased individual has six months from the date of the death to pursue a wrongful death action.

If the estate does not file the legal action within six months, the deceased’s dependents and immediate family members (the spouse, adult children, and parents) can bring a claim on behalf of all the beneficiaries. When beneficiaries make a claim, the estate is precluded from pursuing the claim.

Rhode Island Law Permits Additional Claims

In addition to the wrongful death claim on behalf of all the deceased’s beneficiaries, Rhode Island law also permits additional claims to be pursued by spouses, children, and parents of the victim.

These claims can be brought for the loss of:

  1. Consortium
  2. Society
  3. Companionship

These additional wrongful death claims can be pursued by the persons who directly suffered the loss. For instance, if your spouse died as a result of another’s negligence or misconduct, you may be eligible to seek damages for the loss of consortium.

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Rhode Island

Rhode Island law provides a three-year time limit for wrongful death claims. If there are conflicts and disagreements among the deceased’s beneficiaries, each can hire their own Rhode Island wrongful death attorney separate from the one filing the case.

Minimum Compensation in Rhode Island Wrongful Death Cases

Rhode Island law provides the minimum amount of compensation available for the estate or beneficiaries if the defendant is found responsible for the death. That minimum compensation is $250,000.

The deceased’s dependents may be entitled to recover various types of damages via a wrongful death suit:

  • Burial and funeral costs
  • Hospital and medical expenses incurred before the death
  • Lost wages and loss of earning capacity from the date of the accident until the time of death
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of society and companionship
  • Prospective future income and earnings over the deceased’s life expectancy

An award of punitive damages may also be available in a Rhode Island wrongful death case if it involved any of the following:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Sexual assault
  • Assault
  • Recklessness
  • Drowsy driving
  • Firing a gun

Surviving family members may recover punitive damages under other circumstances. Speak with a Rhode Island wrongful death attorney to determine whether you can pursue an award of punitive damages. Contact Robert E. Craven & Associates to schedule a consultation. Call at 401-453-2700.

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