Losing a Loved One: What You Need to Know About Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Did you lose a loved one due to the negligence of another person? If some third party was responsible for the death of your loved one or their death could’ve been prevented, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you are considering pursuing compensation because of a wrongful death, you should know what to expect during the lawsuit. There are only certain situations that qualify for a lawsuit. And you need to be prepared before going to court.
Here’s what a wrongful death lawsuit is, how to sue for wrongful death, and what to expect.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a lawsuit that’s filed when a loved one loses their life due to the actions of another person or entity. Examples include medical malpractice, caretaker negligence, defective products, or a car accident.
This lawsuit allows the surviving family members and family to gain compensation for what they’ve lost as a result of another’s carelessness.
Wrongful death claims gained prominence over the last century. Currently, every state in the United States has a wrongful death law. Companies, government agencies, and even individual people can be held responsible for the death of another.
When Is a Wrongful Death Suit Applicable?
A wrongful death suit is only applicable is the defendant was the one solely responsible for the death of a loved one. Common examples include:
If a loved one’s death was proven to be the result of a murder, the family can sue the murderer. Murder is by definition an intentional act, which could have been prevented if the killer was not with the victim. You can also use a variety of proof for this case, such as any restraining orders or past criminal history.
You can sue a doctor or a medical facility if your loved one died due to medical malpractice. This includes carelessness, a botched procedure, failure to diagnose a condition, or if they gave an incorrect or lethal dose for a prescription medication.
Car Accident Fatalities
If your loved one was killed in a car accident, you can sue the driver at fault and/or the car’s manufacturer. If you believe the manufacturer was at fault, you will need to find proof that the car malfunctioned or failed to protect your loved one.
Who Can You Sue?
While you can sue anyone if they’re responsible for someone’s death, there are limitations and exceptions to who you can sue. Every situation and state differs. But there are some common persons or entities you can sue.
- At-fault driver or car manufacturer – If an auto accident killed your loved one
- An employer – If their death was caused by a work injury
- Government agency – For example, if their death was caused by a car accident due to a faulty roadway
- A bar – If the loved one was given alcohol before getting behind the wheel of a car
- A doctor or hospital – If they died while under the care of someone else
- A person who intentionally or unintentionally caused their death
If you think you can sue someone or an entity for wrongful death but are unsure, contact a lawyer for more information.
Damages You Can Claim
In addition to compensation, you can claim any damages that you have to pay as a result of their death. This includes:
- Medical costs
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation costs
- Your loved one’s future wages
- Punitive damages
- Any other services and expenses that you acquired while the deceased was under your care (hospice care, etc.)
Keep in mind, every state has a limitation to what damages you can claim.
What to Prove
In order to win your case, the plaintiff must provide accurate proof that the defendant was at fault for their loved one’s death. This includes proof that the deceased was under any care of the defendant or died because of that person’s actions.
Proof that you can provide includes:
- An autopsy report
- Any contracts
- Any past criminal reports or restraining orders on the defendant
Every situation is different and all proof is different. You can consult with a lawyer if you’re unsure of the proof you can provide.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas
While wrongful death exists in every state, each state has a different policy. If you’re interested in filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, you should know about the state wrongful death law and any limitations.
In the Texas Statutes, section 71.001 states a death may be brought to court if the death was at the hands of another. Common causes include wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, or unskillfulness.
Who May File?
Ideally, whoever is in charge of the deceased’s estate will file a wrongful death lawsuit. But in Texas, surviving family members can also file. This includes a spouse, parents, and children.
An adopted child may file, only if they were legally under the care of the deceased. Any child who files a wrongful death lawsuit may only file if they’re of legal adult age (18).
The surviving members can choose to file singly or file as a group. But, not all surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit individually. This includes siblings and other close relatives.
Get Compensation for Your Loved One’s Death
Did you lose a loved one? If you’re eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you need an experienced attorney at your side. If you’re in Dallas, Fort Worth, or Brownsville, contact us at (214) 219-4878 for a free evaluation.