The death of a loved one under any circumstance can be devastating. And if that death has been occasioned by someone else’s reckless actions, then the victim’s relatives may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party.
However, before filing a wrongful death claim, it is crucial that you understand important basics like what amounts to wrongful death, the damages you can seek during your claim and important timelines for filing your claim.
So what is wrongful death?
Death is deemed wrongful when it has been caused by another individual’s negligent actions or inaction. For instance, a death that results from a car accident or an intentional act (including a crime) can be treated as wrongful.
A wrongful death claim has several elements. The defendant’s recklessness, negligence or wrongful act must be directly linked to the injury that resulted in the victim’s demise. Had the victim survived, they would have filed a personal injury claim against the defendant.
What damages can you seek during your wrongful death lawsuit?
Under Texas statutory law, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the deceased’s spouse, children, estate representative or parents. Additionally, they have two years from the date of the incident to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant.
Here are the damages you can seek during your wrongful death lawsuit:
- Medical expenses if the victim was hospitalized following the injury before passing on
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Emotional suffering and mental anguish following your loved one’s death
- Loss of income
Sometimes, the defendant may be required to pay punitive damages to serve as a deterrent.
Proving negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit
To win wrongful death claim, you must prove that the defendant acted negligently. Toward this, you must prove these four elements:
- That the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care
- That the defendant breached this duty
- That the breach of duty resulted in injury and death
- That the decedent’s death resulted in damages
Losing a loved one is never easy. If you have lost a loved one due to another person’s wrongful acts, it is important that you explore the legal actions available to you.