Wrongful Death & Survival Actions in Rhode Island
Families who lose loved ones in preventable accidents have the right to pursue justice. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you can hold at-fault parties accountable and position your family to obtain financial compensation for your losses.
If someone you love passed away because of another's negligent or wrongful act, Karns & Kerrison can help explore your legal options. We're a family-run firm that fights for families and proudly serve clients across across Providence County and the state of Rhode Island.
On This Page:
- Why Choose Karns & Kerrison?
- Wrongful Death FAQ:
- How Do Rhode Island Wrongful Death Lawsuits Work?
- Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Action?
- Does My Family Have a Case?
- Examples of Our Results
- Speak With a Providence Wrongful Death Lawyer
Why Choose Karns & Kerrison?
Karns & Kerrison is a trusted trial practice with a reputation for fighting on behalf of the injured and wronged. Since 1974, our family-operated firm has helped families across Rhode Island and New England fight for justice and has earned the trust of countless clients and colleagues along the way.
Reasons to choose our firm:
- More Than 85 Years of Combined Experience
- Over $250 Million in Compensation Recovered for Clients
- Exclusive Focus on Personal Injury Law
Our Providence wrongful death attorneys offer FREE consultations and handle cases on contingency, which means there's no cost to hire and no fee unless we win. Learn how we can help by calling 401-841-5300 or contacting us online.
Wrongful Death FAQ
How Do Rhode Island Wrongful Death Lawsuits Work?
In Rhode Island, families and estates can sue over a loved one's wrongful death when the death results from someone else's “wrongful act, neglect, or default.”
Under RI Gen Laws § 10-7-1, there are many negligent and wrongful acts that can be grounds for a wrongful death case. Examples include:
- Fatal car accidents caused by negligent motorists
- Unreasonable property hazards
- Nursing home neglect or abuse
- Toxic exposure
- Defective products or dangerous medications
- Medical malpractice
- Intentional acts / homicide
While many people refer to claims that follow a person's preventable death simply as wrongful death lawsuits, these cases consist of two separate legal actions:
- A wrongful death action, which is filed on behalf of a victim's surviving family members for their damages, such as grief, lost financial support, and loss of consortium (companionship).
- A survival action, which is filed by the estate for damages a victim would have been entitled to had they survived, such as their pain and suffering and any medical expenses or lost income they incurred following their injuries and prior to death. Damages in survival actions are paid to a victim's estate and distributed to their beneficiaries.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Only certain parties are eligible to file wrongful death and survival actions. Typically, these are close family members such as:
- A surviving spouse
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and there are scenarios in which a person not mentioned above could be entitled to compensation from a wrongful death action. If you have questions about your eligibility to file a claim, our attorneys at Karns & Kerrison can evaluate your options.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Action?
Civil claims are subject to a statute of limitations that limits the amount of time plaintiffs have to initiate legal action. If plaintiffs fail to file before the statute of limitations expires, they lose the right to recover compensation.
In Rhode Island, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is generally three years from the date of the victim's death. However, there are situations where the statute of limitations can be different, such as in cases involving minor victims and cases where the cause of death was concealed or not immediately known.
Ultimately, it is in the best interests of families with potential cases to seek experienced counsel sooner rather than later. Early legal intervention can help avoid problems with the statute of limitations and allow attorneys to conduct investigations before time can deteriorate potential evidence.
Does My Family Have a Case?
Whether your family can pursue a wrongful death action will depend on the circumstances surrounding your loved one's death. Generally, you may have a case if:
- Someone's negligence or wrongful act caused or contributed to your loved one's death;
- You are eligible to recover damages in a wrongful death action under Rhode Island law; and
- The statute of limitations has not yet expired.
It is worth mentioning that any criminal investigation or case related to your loved one's death does not affect whether you can file or win a wrongful death claim.
As civil cases, wrongful death lawsuits are separate matters from criminal cases. They do not concern whether a person is guilty of committing a crime, and instead focus solely on determining whether a defendant is liable (or financially responsible) for damages.
Because civil claims also use a lower burden of proof than the burden used in criminal cases (a “preponderance of the evidence” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt), families may still have viable civil claims when no criminal charges are filed in connection to their loved one's death, and even in situations where individuals are found “not guilty” in criminal court.
Examples of Our Results
- $2.1 million wrongful death recovery for the family of a 42-year-old recreational bicyclist who was struck and killed by a vehicle.
- $1.86 million for a 76-year-old woman who suffered a brain injury when her vehicle was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer.
- $1.55 million for a 25-year-old female passenger who suffered a traumatic brain injury and fractures in a rollover auto accident.
- $1.1 million recovery for the family of an 83-year-old pedestrian who sustained a fatal brain injury when he was struck by a motor vehicle.
Speak With a Providence Wrongful Death Lawyer: 401-841-5300
Our attorneys at Karns & Kerrison have decades of experience helping families and personal representatives in wrongful death and survival actions across Providence County and Rhode Island. During a FREE consultation, we can review your matter, available options, and how we might be able to help.