Losing a loved one is never easy. It’s even more complicated when negligence is the cause for a person’s death. Late last year, a jury awarded Corpus Christi family members who lost their parents in a house fire $37 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. The claim was brought against the manufacturer of a defective space heater that caused the fire. While no amount of compensation can return their loved ones to them, the most effective legal resort for surviving family members is often through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Each state has its own guidelines for who can bring wrongful death claims, and Texas is no different. According to Texas state law, you can bring a wrongful death claim against the person who caused the death of your loved one if you are the surviving spouse, child, or parents of the victim.
Who Can I Sue for My Loved One’s Death?
The person, business, or organization that caused the death of your loved one can be held legally accountable for your loss. This can cover a wide variety of entities, from individuals to companies to employees or government agencies.
Multiple parties may share liability in certain cases. That’s why it is crucial to hire a wrongful death lawyer to help you identify all liable parties and hold them accountable. For example, if someone is killed in a drunk driving accident, responsible parties could include:
- The driver who chose to drive while intoxicated and caused the crash
- Persons who sold or served alcohol to the driver
- The owner of the establishment that overserved the driver
This is simply an example of how liability could be assigned to several different entities. Be sure to speak with your attorney about the specifics of your case as soon as possible.
How is Wrongful Death Proven in Texas?
For you and your Houston personal injury lawyer to prevail in your wrongful death lawsuit, four elements are needed to be proven.
The death was caused by the defendant’s actions or failure to act. Your loved one’s passing was the direct result of the recklessness, carelessness or negligence of the defendant.
Failure to provide a level of care. An expected level of care was owed to your loved one by the defendant but was not provided. If, for example, your loved one’s passing occurred because of injuries sustained from an accident in the workplace, your personal injury lawyer will need to prove that the employer failed to provide the necessary measures required for a safe working environment.
Negligence was the direct cause of your loved one’s death. In addition to establishing that the expected level of care was not provided, the way that the negligence contributed to your loved one’s passing must be proven.
Economic damages resulted from your loved one’s death. The only compensation that can be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit is money. Because of that, all monetary damages (medical bills, loss of income, potential earnings, funeral costs, etc.) must be documented.
Just as with any other type of personal injury claim, all four of these elements must be proven in order to win your wrongful death claim.
How Much is My Wrongful Death Claim Worth?
Although your personal injury attorney will guide you through the process of determining an appropriate amount of compensation, there are essentially three categories that could be considered.
Economic damages. This can include the loss of your loved one’s wages, benefits, medical expenses, loss of inheritance, loss of child or spousal support, funeral costs, etc.
Non-economic damages. Areas to be considered in this category include the loss of support of a partner or spouse, the associated mental anguish, and the loss of advice and guidance.
Punitive damages. If the actions of the person accused of causing your loved one’s death are thought by the court to be especially egregious, these damages may be added to the economic and non-economic damages as a way of punishing the defendant.
While no dollar figure can be properly placed on the life of your loved one, financial compensation is the only way the court can give you the justice you deserve. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party can also help prevent future negligence and harm against other people. If you’ve lost a loved one because of someone else’s recklessness, contact our wrongful death attorneys today. Our team can provide a 100% FREE initial evaluation of your case with care and compassion.