Wrongful Death Lawsuit: What You Need To Know

What is wrongful death?

Wrongful death is a civil lawsuit that is brought by a victim’s family against another party who knowingly or negligently causes the death of another person.  Wrongful death claims are filed by the family of the deceased to obtain financial compensation for the loss of the loved one and their income.  In order to win compensation, the victim’s family must prove that the other party’s negligence or carelessness was the direct cause of their death.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

After a fatal accident, you may believe that you are not able to recover damages since the victim is deceased and unable to file a claim. However, in a wrongful death case, family members are eligible to file claims on behalf of their loved ones. In Texas, the following family members are able to file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children of the deceased, including adopted children and adult children
  • Parents of the deceased

Who can be sued for wrongful death?

The defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit can be any individual or entity who negligently or intentionally causes the death of another person.  Some examples of who can be sued are:

  • Drivers at fault for fatal motor vehicle accidents (including drunk drivers)
  • Medical professionals who committed malpractice
  • Companies who fail to warn of the risks of their products
  • Companies who design or manufacture defective products
  • Companies or individuals who serve alcohol to intoxicated drivers responsible for fatal accidents

What are some common causes of fatal accidents?

The causes of wrongful death lawsuits are also commonly the same causes of a personal injury lawsuit. However, once the victim passes away, the personal injury claim becomes a wrongful death suit with the family claiming damages for the loss of their loved one.

For example, some of the causes of fatal accidents are:

Motor Vehicle Accidents Many motorcycle, car and truck accidents are fatal. For instance, a fatal accident can be caused by an intoxicated or distracted driver or by a defective vehicle part or improper truck maintenance.  In addition, Texas’ dram shop law allows for bars or other individuals to be held responsible for over serving liquor in some instances. 

Product Liability: Companies may be sued when they fail to ensure their products are safe for consumers or fail to provide adequate warnings relating to the dangers of a product.

Medical Malpractice: Medical professionals may be held accountable if they fail to deliver acceptable standard of care or if their negligence leads to a patient’s’ death.  For example, surgical errors, misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, and prescription drug errors are medical malpractice claims that can lead to the death of a patient.  The hospital and/or any medical professional may be held responsible. 

Work Accidents:  Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment.  If their negligence leads to a fatal accident, then they may be sued by the deceased worker’s family.  Examples of workplace negligence can include lack of or improper training and faulty or improperly maintained equipment.   

What kind of damages can be claimed?

Damages can include:

  • Lost wages 
  • Loss of consortium
  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost benefits, such as medical coverage, retirement, etc.
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering
holding hands pain and suffering

What should I do if I believe I have a wrongful death case?

If your loved one was involved in a fatal accident caused by negligence, then you may have a case.  You can contact our personal injury attorneys for a free consultation at 214-575-6060.  We would be happy to discuss your legal options and help you determine your next steps.