What Do You Know About Wrongful Death Claims?

Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP June 9, 2014

A wrongful death claim is an action for damages arising from an injury that causes an individual’s death. A wrongful death claim may be brought against a person who causes the death of another as a result of a wrongful act, neglect, carelessness or unskillfulness. The surviving parents, spouse, and children of the deceased person have a wrongful death claim against the negligent or wrongful actor with the assistance of a lawyer.

Who Can File a Lawsuit?

Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §71.004 provides that “the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceasedmay bring the action or one or more of those individuals may bring the action for the benefit of all. If none of the individuals entitled to bring an action have brought the action within three calendar months after the death of the injured individual, the deceased’s executor or administrator shall bring and prosecute the action for all wrongful death claimants unless requested not to by all those individuals.”

Who are the Responsible Parties?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by lawyers against an individual or business entity – such as the driver of a car or operator of a machine that caused the injury/fatality; the owner of the equipment being operated; the premises where an accident occurred or the designer or manufacturer of a product that was faulty. Any person or company that is involved in the chain of events that caused the incident can be held responsible.

What Types of Damages Can Be Claimed?

Wrongful death beneficiaries may be entitled to compensation for loss of: society and companionship; care in the form of support, maintenance, counsel and services; reasonable financial support; and loss of inheritance as well as mental anguish compensation.

With the help of a lawyer, beneficiaries may also be entitled to Punitive Damages – monetary damages designed to punish individuals and businesses for actions that show a conscious disregard for the safety and welfare of others that causes death.

The unexpected loss of a loved one brings with it a heavy emotional burden on the surviving family members. This emotional burden is often increased by the financial strains resulting from such a loss. Although bringing a claim against the responsible parties can never reverse the damage, holding those who caused the death financially responsible may be the best way to provide support for those left behind.

If you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to the negligence of another person or business, the best course of action may be to seek the guidance and counsel of lawyers who can help you decide if a wrongful death claim should be pursued.