In general, a
wrongful death is a death caused by negligence, either of another person or of a company.
What constitutes “negligence,” who can file such claims and
the nature of damages which can be recovered differ from state to state.
It’s important therefore for representatives of wrongful death victims,
such as family members, to consult with a
competent personal injury attorney, one with substantial experience in the law as it pertains to wrongful
death in their state.
Montana Law Regarding Wrongful Death
Wrongful death in Montana is defined in the
Montana Code Annotated 2013 (section 27-1-513) as occurring when:
“…injuries to and the death of one person are caused by the
wrongful act or neglect of another.”
In Montana, as in many other states, wrongful death is a type of personal
injury claim, but in this case one in which the injured party is no longer
living, leaving a “personal representative to file the claim.
How Is “Personal Representative” Defined in Montana?
The Montana Code goes on to specify who in the state may bring a wrongful
“…the personal representative of the decedent's estate
may maintain an action for damages against the person causing the death
or, if the person is employed by another person who is responsible for
the causing person's conduct, then also against the other responsible
In Montana, personal representatives are usually family members. For example,
if the person who died is a child, one or both parents can bring the lawsuit.
Civil vs. Criminal Cases
It is important to note that wrongful death cases are civil (as opposed
to criminal) cases. In criminal cases, charges are typically filed by
representatives of the state, such as prosecutors, whereas charges in
civil cases are brought by private parties (such as family members). The
results of criminal and civil cases are also different: whereas criminal
cases can result in incarceration or fines (assuming the defendant is
found guilty), civil cases can result in the awarding of damages to be
paid by the defendant.
What Kinds of Damages Are Awarded in Montana Wrongful Death Cases?
The intention of Montana law is to provide adequate compensation for the
families of those who die as a result of the negligence of another or
others. Damages can be either economic or non-economic. Economic damages
are those which are more easily quantified, for example, by assessing
medical costs and wages which would have been earned had the individual
not died. Non-economic costs are more subjective, typically providing
a dollar compensation for pain and suffering.
Statute of Limitations
Montana law applies a
Statute of Limitations to file civil claims. In the case of wrongful death, cases must be filed
within three years of the death. This is strictly enforced, and cases
brought after the deadline will not make it into court.
If you have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it’s
important to find a qualified personal injury attorney with deep experience
and a comprehensive understanding of the laws of Montana as they pertain
to wrongful death.
To discuss your personal injury case with a competent attorney,
contact us today.