Boston Wrongful Death Lawyer

Boston Wrongful Death Lawyer

When someone is injured due to negligent behavior, they can typically file a personal injury claim to recover compensation and hold the at-fault party accountable. But if these injuries ultimately lead to death, there is still recourse for the victim’s family through a wrongful death lawsuit. While compensation cannot make up for the loss of a loved one, damages from a wrongful death lawsuit can help ease financial hardship for surviving family members and ensure that the at-fault party pays the consequences for their careless actions. If you lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer at Steinger, Greene & Feiner in Boston to take the first step in securing the compensation that you deserve. 

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death is a death caused by the negligence or misconduct of others. If you lost a loved one to a wrongful death, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit under Massachusetts law. A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action filed on behalf of the family members of the deceased to recover damages associated with their loved one’s untimely death.

Wrongful deaths can happen because of medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and many other causes. In addition to the emotional pain and grief associated with losing a loved one, you may be left with sudden, significant expenses from medical bills and funeral and burial costs. If the deceased was the primary earner for the family, there may be even more financial pressure from the loss of income. Compensation in wrongful death lawsuits is intended to help with these financial hardships but also with mental and emotional suffering.

Working with a wrongful death lawyer during this overwhelming time can alleviate a huge burden for surviving family members. A lawyer will collect evidence to demonstrate the negligence or misconduct of the at-fault party and fight to recover compensation for the victim’s family. 

Some examples of situations where Wrongful death lawsuits can be filed include:

  • After a fatal auto accident
  • After a deadly slip-and-fall accident
  • After a fatal construction accident
  • When a child drowns in the pool of a negligent homeowner
  • When a defective product causes death
  • When a healthcare provider does not provide proper care
  • When a drug has unexpected side effects and causes death

The elements of a wrongful death claim are very similar to those of a personal injury claim. A successful plaintiff (administrator on behalf of the deceased’s family) will prove the defendant (at-fault party) owed a duty of care to the deceased that they breached through their actions or failure to act. The plaintiff must also show the defendant’s breach of duty caused the death. 

Massachusetts law defines wrongful death as when a person, company, or other entity causes the death of a person by:

  • Negligence, or failing to exercise reasonable care;
  • A “wanton or reckless act;” or
  • A breach of warranty.

A wrongful death claim can be filed in most cases where a person would have been able to file a personal injury claim had they survived their injuries. 

The party liable for damages in a wrongful death case is the one found to be at fault for negligently, recklessly, or intentionally causing the victim’s death. This can be one person, multiple people, or one or more businesses or employers. You can name multiple defendants in your lawsuit, and your lawyer can help identify all parties who are at fault. 


Negligent acts involve a defendant’s failure to exercise appropriate care. An example of a wrongful death case involving negligence is one where a victim was killed because of a distracted driver.

Wanton, Willful, or Reckless Acts

Wanton, willful, or reckless conduct involves behavior that will likely cause substantial harm to another. The defendant must knowingly or intentionally disregard an unreasonable risk. An example of a wrongful death action involving wanton, willful, or reckless acts is one where a supervisor asks an employee to clean a dangerous machine while it is running, causing the employee’s death.

Breach of Warranty

A breach of warranty is a breach of an express or implied warranty, and thus a breach of contract. An example of a wrongful death suit involving a breach of warranty is a case where a defective product causes a death. Manufacturers operate under an implied warranty that their products will be safe for public consumption. If an individual dies because of a harmful, defective product, the manufacturer may be liable.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases in Massachusetts

For most cases, Massachusetts law requires a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed within three years of the date of the death or three years of the date on which the executor or administrator of the estate learned about the cause of death. But evidence and memories don’t last forever, so families should enlist the help of a wrongful death lawyer to file a lawsuit as soon as possible. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate is the proper party to bring a wrongful death action. The administrator of the estate is usually identified in the deceased’s will unless there is no will. If there is no will, the court will appoint one.

This person will be responsible for paying off debts, handling estate matters, and filing a wrongful death claim. This is why the assistance of a Boston wrongful death lawyer is necessary to establish an estate before you can file a wrongful death claim.

In most cases, the surviving spouse and children of the deceased are the beneficiaries of the estate. One or more of these persons can serve as administrator, or a third party may act as administrator. A person does not need to be a beneficiary of a wrongful death lawsuit to serve as administrator. For persons who were unmarried at the time of their partner’s passing, their next of kin would be the beneficiaries of the estate. 

Types of Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 229, Section 2 outlines the damages that may be available to surviving family members of the deceased through a wrongful death action. These damages include:

  • Final medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of future income and earning capacity
  • Loss of consortium, including the loss of advice, support, companionship, care, and comfort

Economic losses like medical and funeral costs can be easily calculated using a bill or bank statement, but non-economic damages like loss of consortium are harder to quantify. In a Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit, juries are often tasked with determining the monetary value of these kinds of losses. It’s your wrongful death lawyer’s responsibility to accurately estimate these damages and present convincing evidence to a jury to award you a fair amount of compensation. 

In some cases, punitive damages are also available. These may be involved when the at-fault party engaged in wanton, willful, or criminal conduct in causing the victim’s death. They’re designed to punish people for their misdeeds, so the amount may depend on the economic wealth and status of those responsible for the wrongful death. The minimum amount awarded for punitive damages in Massachusetts is $5,000. However, punitive damages are difficult to prove because it must be shown that the at-fault party engaged in extremely reckless conduct. 

Examples of very reckless conduct include drunk or impaired driving, texting while driving, and other illegal conduct. Your lawyer must prove that this behavior directly led to the victim’s death. 

How a Boston Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help

For many reasons, especially because a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate, it’s highly beneficial to work with an attorney. Your attorney will establish the estate and identify beneficiaries, estimate your total damages, gather evidence, prove the at-fault party’s negligence, and prepare and file all legal documents. They will ensure you don’t miss any statutory deadlines that would bar you from recovering compensation. 

Losing a loved one is already hugely distressing and overwhelming. With a lawyer by your side, you don’t have to worry about court procedures during the trial. A wrongful death lawyer will handle all communications with the opposing counsel, court personnel, and at-fault parties and their insurance companies.

Allowing your lawyer to handle negotiations with insurance companies is particularly important. Some insurance companies take advantage of this highly emotional time to make an early settlement offer much lower than the family deserves.

The families of wrongful death victims should not enter into any settlement, sign any release, or accept any money in exchange for releasing an individual, corporation, or insurance company from responsibility for the death without first understanding the available options for recovering damages. An experienced Boston wrongful death lawyer can help families understand all their options for recovering compensation before making any decisions that can affect a potential wrongful death lawsuit. 

Choosing the Right Boston Wrongful Death Attorney

When choosing a wrongful death attorney in Boston, you should select one with significant experience handling wrongful death cases and bringing them to trial. Your attorney should also be familiar with Massachusetts laws that can affect your case. 

At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our wrongful death lawyers have been bringing lawsuits against negligent people, companies, and other parties for decades. We relentlessly negotiate with the powerful insurers of these defendants to recover maximum compensation for the families of wrongful death victims.

We’re committed to securing justice for our clients, and we don’t charge any fees until we win the case and recover compensation. 

Client Testimonials

Our former clients report complete satisfaction with the way we handled their cases. Hear why we’re the leading wrongful death lawyers in Boston.

FAQs About Wrongful Death Claims in Boston

Who Is Responsible for Damages in a Wrongful Death Case?

People, government agencies, and companies can be responsible for damages in a wrongful death case. There can be multiple parties responsible. Some examples include drunk drivers, negligent employers, reckless doctors, and manufacturers of defective products.

What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and a Murder or Manslaughter Case?

Wrongful death lawsuits are civil suits filed by the estate and family of the deceased. The plaintiff must prove their case by a “preponderance of evidence,” meaning that the defendant more likely than not caused the death. The suit may end with the family receiving compensation from the defendant or their insurance company.

A criminal trial for murder or manslaughter is brought by government prosecutors. The burden of proof for a criminal trial for these charges is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is much more difficult to meet than the burden of proof in a civil case. Even if a criminal trial is not successful, you may still be able to recover compensation for wrongful death in a civil suit.

Criminal trials can result in fines or jail time for the defendant, but those fines do not go to the estate of the deceased. If there is a criminal trial pending or underway for the party that caused the death of your loved one, you may still be able to file a civil suit for wrongful death. You can speak to an experienced wrongful death lawyer to explore your options. 

How Long Do You Have To File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Estate administrators have three years from the date of the death or the day they knew or reasonably should have known of the basis for a wrongful death suit. Basically, you have three years from the date of the death to file suit. If you file after this deadline, your case will likely be thrown out by the court.

Because wrongful death claims take time to prepare, you should file as soon as possible.

Why Hire a Lawyer for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawyer can help establish the deceased’s estate, identify beneficiaries, estimate damages, prepare and file legal documents, and handle all communications with at-fault parties and insurance companies. Working with a lawyer gives you the best chance of proving the responsible party’s negligence and securing the full and fair compensation you deserve. 

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Boston?

Wrongful death attorneys should operate on a contingency fee basis. This means the attorney is only paid if and when they recover damages. The fee percentage charged by an attorney can depend on the type of case and the difficulty involved. You should discuss these terms with an attorney before agreeing to any fee structures. You should also be able to get a free case review with a potential attorney to see if you have a valid claim. 

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Boston

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things to go through, especially if their death is preventable. If you lost a loved one this way, you should strongly consider speaking to a wrongful death attorney. They can handle all the legal aspects to hold negligent parties accountable and recover compensation to lessen your family’s financial burden.
You don’t have to deal with a wrongful death on your own. Contact us for a free, no-obligation case consultation today.