Do I Have a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

by Dallas Wrongful Death Attorney, Tim O’Hare

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Wrongful death lawsuits are regularly associated with medical cases where there is a claim of negligence in the death of a patient. But wrongful death cases can come from a car or trucking accident, on-the-job death, a defective product or a host of other scenarios.

In order to determine if a wrongful death lawsuit exists, we must first understand the laws regarding injury accidents and death due to negligence. Unfortunately, this is not a simple task as the laws can be confusing, at best.

There is  no amount of money that could ever fully compensate a family member for the loss of a loved one. However, when one person’s death can be attributed to the negligence of another individual, corporation or other entity, survivors of the victim may be entitled to monetary damages and can sue the negligent party in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Laws applying to wrongful death cases often vary from one state to the next, but in a wrongful death case in the state of Texas, only spouses, children or parents of the decedent are eligible to recover damages in a lawsuit. There is one exception:  the executor or personal representative of an estate can bring a case for the damages suffered by the decedent to pass that money on to the decedent’s heirs. In Texas, the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases is two years. If more time has passed since the death occurred, a wrongful death suit cannot be filed in most circumstances.

In order to win a wrongful death lawsuit, four elements must exist:

  1. The death was caused by the conduct of the defendant;
  2. The defendant was negligent or reckless with the victim’s wellbeing;
  3. The defendant owed a duty to the victim; and
  4. Damages have resulted from the death (this one is obvious if the other elements are met.)

Plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit (spouse, children, parents and/or a representative of the decedent’s estate) may be awarded two types of damages: compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages may be awarded to cover medical and funeral expenses, loss of future income or support and grief or loss of companionship. The intent of punitive damages is to punish a defendant for gross negligence. As such, punitive damages are awarded by a jury based on the defendant’s actions leading up to the death.

Have you lost a loved one as a result of what you believe to be the negligence of another person or entity? Death due to a car accident, motorcycle accident, construction accident, job injury or another negligent or reckless situation may constitute wrongful death. Contact the experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare today. We will guide you through your options, pursue a wrongful death claim if warranted and ensure you receive all due compensation for your loss.  

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