The loss of a loved one is devastating and irreversible. When that loss is someone else’s fault, grief mixes with anger and confusion. Still, for the grieving survivors, life continues on. They must face the world without the love, support, guidance, and income of their loved one who died as a result of someone else’s negligence.
This website is for those survivors. It’s meant to give them some guidance on how to seek justice for the wrongful death of a loved one.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death encompasses a wide range of scenarios. A wrongful death claim can potentially be made anytime a person dies as the result of another entity’s or person’s fault.
Wrongful death can result from incidents like medical malpractice, car accidents, defective products, and others. If someone’s negligent or reckless behavior resulted in the death of your loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit could be on the table.
Laws on wrongful death lawsuits vary by state, but every state in the country has enacted laws on this matter.
Who Can Be Held Accountable?
Given the complexity of many wrongful deaths, a number of different people or entities can be named as defendants in such lawsuits.
For an accident involving your loved one’s fall because of a faulty handrail at a local store, for example, the following people or entities might be included in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The owner of the store
- The manufacturer of the handrail
- The designer of the building itself
- The company that installed the handrail
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
To sue for wrongful death, you have to have suffered damage as the result of a loved one’s death. This suit must be filed by the person who is representing the people who have suffered due to the wrongful death. In many cases, this person is the executor of the deceased’s estate.
The other main qualification is that the death was the result of someone else’s negligence. It doesn’t matter if the death was an accident; if negligence caused it, you may have a case.
While the laws vary from state to state, here are some general guidelines on who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Immediate Family Members – Spouses often sue for wrongful death. If the person was unmarried, this includes the parents or the person’s children.
- Distant Family Members – Siblings or grandparents who are caring for a child can file a wrongful death lawsuit in some states.
- Life Partners – Some states allow life partners to pursue compensation in the event of a wrongful death.
- Financial Dependents – A person who can prove that he or she is suffering financially as a result of a person’s death, even if they are not related by marriage or blood, can bring a wrongful death lawsuit in some states.
- Parents – Sometimes, the parents of a fetus who has died can recover for damages during a wrongful death lawsuit. This ability varies by state. In other states, the child must have been born first.
Different Rules in Different States
In many states, only the personal representative or executor of the estate can file a wrongful death claim. But it’s a little different in Texas, for example.
In Texas, the people who can file a wrongful death lawsuit include the surviving spouse, children of the deceased, and parents of the deceased person. They may file the lawsuit as individuals or as a group.
However, if the surviving spouse, children, or parents do not file a claim within three months of the person’s death, only the personal representative of the estate will be able to file a wrongful death claim. But this is only an option if the surviving family members do not request that a wrongful death claim be filed.
Some examples of people who can file wrongful death claims in Texas include an adult child of a deceased parent, an adopted child of an adoptive parent if he or she was fully and legally adopted, and adoptive parents of their adopted children.
The details and location of each case can change how the case should be filed, so it’s best to consult a wrongful death attorney first.
Wrongful Death Damages
A wrongful death can mean immeasurable loss, but this loss doesn’t stop with just the loss of your loved one. You also lose all the financial contributions your loved one would have made in your life had he or she not passed away. That’s why those who file a wrongful death lawsuit can be compensated in a variety of ways.
Some of the items a wrongful death settlement might include compensation for are the following:
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost care and support
- Pain and suffering
- Certain medical bills
Leave the Details to a Lawyer
Wrongful death lawsuits can be incredibly complicated—and something you don’t need to deal with when you’re supposed to be grieving. That’s why so many people turn their case over to a wrongful death lawyer with Lavent Law.