Rhode Island
Wrongful Death Lawyer

Losing a loved one is never easy, but it is especially painful when the cause is carelessness. In addition to profound grief, families face uncertainty about the future and overwhelming expenses associated with the death.

Holding the negligent parties accountable and seeking much-needed financial relief can feel like an insurmountable undertaking for grieving families. But Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP can help. Our law firm is committed to relieving families of this burden and helping them secure their financial future.

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How does Rhode Island define
wrongful death?

Rhode Island law defines wrongful death as a death caused by the negligence, default, or wrongful act of another person or entity. Negligence occurs when the following conditions can be proven:

Leading Causes of Wrongful Death in Rhode Island

The most common causes of wrongful deaths are as follows:

1.

Car Accidents. Vehicle accidents are most commonly caused by the following types of negligence:

Distracted driving

speeding

Speeding 

driving under the influence

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

driving while tired or upset

Driving while tired or upset

driving an unsafe vehicle

Driving an unsafe vehicle

driving at night

Driving at night and during hazardous road conditions

a person taking clothes out of a car

2.

Truck Accidents. As many as 71 percent of truck accidents are caused by distracted driving, such as texting, reaching for an object or talking on a CB radio.

3.

Motorcycle Accidents. Motorists often cause these accidents while switching lanes or failing to yield during turns. Although motorcyclists only represent three percent of vehicles on the road, they account for 14 percent of traffic deaths.

4.

Boating Accidents. Alcohol use is the leading factor in fatal accidents. Operator inexperience and inattention are the leading factors in boating accidents in general. Most deaths are by drowning.

5.

Workplace Accidents. The three leading causes of death in the workplace are as follows:

being struck

Being struck, striking against or being crushed by objects

overexertion

Overexertion

slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips and falls

6.

Premises Liability. Premises liability refers to accidents on public or private property due to the owner’s negligence. Slips and falls are the most common premises liability cases, most often due to winter weather. Other examples include the following:

dog bites

Dog bites

swimming pool accidents

Swimming pool accidents

violent crime due to inadequate security

Violent crime due to inadequate security

food poisoning

Food poisoning

gym and fitness center accidents

Gym and fitness center accidents

7.

Medical Malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when medical professionals fall short of the standard of care. Common examples include the following:

diagnostic errors

Diagnostic errors

hospital-acquired infections

Hospital-acquired infections

obstetrical negligence

Obstetrical negligence

surgical errors

Surgical errors 

medication errors

Medication errors

nursing home neglect and abuse

Nursing home neglect and abuse

8.

Defective Products. Dangerous design, faulty production and inadequate instructions or warnings can harm the public. Negligent manufacturers are liable for any resulting injuries and deaths. The following products are most often implicated:

automobile parts

Automobile parts

drugs and medical devices

Drugs and medical devices

tools

Tools

children's products

Children’s products

foods and beverages

Foods and beverages

What damages can be recovered in a Rhode Island
wrongful death claim?

The minimum settlement amount established by Rhode Island wrongful death law is $250,000 with no upper limit. The total compensation recovered varies widely according to case details.

medical bills

Medical Bills

Families can recover medical expenses, such as:
    • Ambulance fees 
    • Hospital bills 
    • Physician fees
funeral expenses

Pecuniary Damages

Pecuniary damages are the monetary losses caused by the death, taking into consideration the projected earnings and lifespan of the deceased person. In the death of a homemaker, the value of homemaking services is considered.

funeral expenses

Funeral Expenses

All costs associated with the funeral, cremation and burial are recoverable. If the death occurred on the job, workers’ compensation provides $20,000 to cover these expenses.

pain and suffering

Pain and Suffering

Surviving family members may receive compensation for pain and suffering damages. Families can also claim damages for the pain and suffering of the deceased if such damages would have been recoverable by the decedent had they survived

punitive damages

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are only awarded in extraordinary cases where the following conditions are provable: 

    • Punitive damages would have been recoverable by the deceased had he or she survived.

       

    • The death was precipitated by the defendant’s gross negligence or willful misconduct. 
loss of companionship

Loss of Companionship

The following relationship losses are considered recoverable damages: 

    • Loss of consortium – intimate relations between spouses

       

    • Loss of society – the relationships between family members, such as companionship and parental guidance 
medical bills

Medical Bills

Families can recover medical expenses, such as:
    • Ambulance fees 
    • Hospital bills 
    • Physician fees
funeral expenses

Funeral Expenses

All costs associated with the funeral, cremation and burial are recoverable. If the death occurred on the job, workers’ compensation provides $20,000 to cover these expenses.

punitive damages

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are only awarded in extraordinary cases where the following conditions are provable: 

    • Punitive damages would have been recoverable by the deceased had he or she survived.

       

    • The death was precipitated by the defendant’s gross negligence or willful misconduct. 
funeral expenses

Pecuniary Damages

Pecuniary damages are the monetary losses caused by the death, taking into consideration the projected earnings and lifespan of the deceased person. In the death of a homemaker, the value of homemaking services is considered.

pain and suffering

Pain and Suffering

Surviving family members may receive compensation for pain and suffering damages. Families can also claim damages for the pain and suffering of the deceased if such damages would have been recoverable by the decedent had they survived

loss of companionship

Loss of Companionship

The following relationship losses are considered recoverable damages: 

    • Loss of consortium – intimate relations between spouses

       

    • Loss of society – the relationships between family members, such as companionship and parental guidance 

Who can file a wrongful death claim in Rhode Island?

The executor or administrator of the estate files the wrongful death action. In the absence of an executor or administrator, the surviving spouse or surviving children, or in their absence, the surviving next of kin, may file the action. The proceeds will be divided as follows: 

    • Half to the surviving spouse 
    • Half divided among the surviving children 
    • In the absence of surviving children, the whole is awarded to the spouse. 
    • In the absence of a surviving spouse, the whole is divided between the children. 
    • In the absence of either a surviving spouse or children, the proceeds are awarded to the next of kin. 

The state of Rhode Island recognizes nontraditional family members, such as common-law marriages and equitable adoption. An experienced Rhode Island wrongful death attorney can help you establish eligibility in these cases. 

firefighters putting out a building fire

What is the time limit to file a Rhode Island wrongful death lawsuit?

The Rhode Island statute of limitations for wrongful death actions is three years from the date of death or from the date the negligence is or should reasonably have been discovered. While this may seem sufficient, preparing a wrongful death case requires a lengthy discovery process. Contacting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible allows you to meet the deadline for filing your claim.

How to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Rhode Island

If you suspect negligence in the death of your loved one, contact a personal injury lawyer right away. The at-fault party’s insurance company or attorney may contact you. Anything you say to these parties could harm your case. They may try to induce you to admit fault or accept a low settlement offer. 

Preserve any evidence pertaining to the accident or the financial status of the decedent. Your attorney will provide legal advice, investigate your case, protect your interests and file your claim.

How can a wrongful death lawyer
at Marasco & Nesselbush help my case?

Marasco & Nesselbush, LLP has extensive experience in multiple personal injury practice areas, making us uniquely qualified to handle any type of wrongful death case. Attorney selection is one of the most important factors in how much financial compensation you receive.  

We are a leading personal injury law firm in Rhode Island with offices in Providence, Wakefield, Warwick and Woonsocket. Our attorneys are regularly recognized by our clients and peers. We have received the prestigious Best Law Firm recognition by U.S. News & World Report for the fifth consecutive year, and our attorneys are consistently recognized as Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers and Rising Stars.  

Our attorneys have more than 300 years of experience combined, and we have recovered more than $100 million on behalf of our clients.  

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

a mother and father reading to their children

“For anyone who is really looking for a team of Attorneys that will fight for you every second of the way, this here is the team you want and need in your corner. Attorney Ryan Kelley and his team helped me through such a difficult time after my accident. The stress of thinking what happens next was lifted off my shoulders.

Communication is key for me, and my M&N team was on point with the level of communication they provided. The get-well cards and flowers after surgery were just a special touch that brightened my day. I wasn’t treated like another number or another case, they really made me feel like family. They really care for you and your wellbeing. Words will never express but I will forever be grateful for all they have done for me. Thank you !!!!!”

Heather P.

Amanda C.

I’ve felt comfortable and have built trust with them. They work hard and it shows. I am super thankful to have worked with them.

Susan B.

I love this law firm! My lawyer was compassionate, kind and understanding during a very difficult time.

Barbara E.

They have been absolutely wonderful throughout my case-with a mix of professionalism and friendship all in one.