Few experiences in life are as traumatic as a serious automobile accident. Imagine how much more devastating this would be if one of your loved ones dies as a result of that accident because someone else was at fault. What do you do? Can you be compensated for your loss?
A personal injury lawyer experienced with wrongful death lawsuits can answer these and other important questions for you. To help you understand how the process works, here are some guidelines:
What is “Wrongful Death?”
Wrongful death occurs when someone dies through negligence of or intentional harm caused by another. Perhaps there was a car accident in which the other driver negligent in some way, such as speeding, or driving under the influence. Wrongful death also applies when someone causes harm intentionally—if, for example, through an assault. In such cases, someone who represents the estate of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
Simply stated, to prove wrongful death, you have to prove that the defendant was either negligent or intended to cause harm. The legal concept involved is that of “duty of care,” an aspect of tort law. This simply means that anyone doing something with or to another person who can reasonably perceive the possibility of harm to that person must exercise reasonable care. To prove negligence, you must show three things:
- That a “duty of care” existed.
- That the defendant did not exercise reasonable care.
- That not doing so was a “proximate cause” of the death.
Can Anyone File a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
As noted above, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed by a representative of the deceased person’s estate. Who that is differs somewhat from one state to another. In general, however, husbands and wives can bring wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of their dead spouse, parents can do so with regard to their minor children and children who are minors can file on behalf of their parents. State laws vary with regard to other relationships, such as when children are no longer minors and with regard to lawsuits filed by brothers and sisters, or by extended family members such as grandparents, aunts and uncles.
How are Damages Determined?
The types and amounts of damages are unique to each lawsuit. In general, however, you can receive compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased person, any medical costs, costs associated with the burial, and money which would have come to the deceased had he or she lived, such as income and inheritance.