by Tim O’Hare
The laws regarding the death of a person due to negligence can be confusing. If someone dies as a result of the negligence of another person, how can justice be served when that person is not alive and able to receive compensation?
Though no lawsuit can come close to fully compensating survivors for the death of a loved one, when an individual dies as a result of the negligence of another person, the victim’s survivors can sue the party at fault in a wrongful death lawsuit, and they are entitled to monetary damages.
A lawsuit may be brought by someone on behalf of the estate of the deceased, as well as by the surviving spouse, surviving children, natural or adopted, and surviving parents. Laws regarding wrongful death have not always offered survivors the ability to recover damages, but over the years, laws have been passed in the United States that allow for compensation to the survivors for damages resulting from the death of their loved one.
In order to make a wrongful death claim, these four elements must exist:
- The Defendant(s) owed a duty to the deceased;
- The Defendant(s) breached that duty;
- As a result of the breach, the death was proximately caused by the Defendant(s); and
- Damages have resulted from the death (which is a given in a death case).
There are two types of damages that can be awarded to plaintiffs in a wrongful death suit: compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages can be awarded to the plaintiff to cover medical and funeral expenses, loss of future income or support, and grief or loss of companionship. Punitive damages, however, are intended to punish the defendant for Gross Negligence and serve as a deterrent to others acting that way in the future.
As with many legal claims, there is a statute of limitations of two years for wrongful death cases in Texas. Statutes vary from state-to-state. If it has been more than two years since the death occurred, a wrongful death suit cannot be filed. There are also limitations regarding who is eligible to file a wrongful death suit; survivors must be a spouse, children, dependents or beneficiaries of the deceased.
As with any legal claim, wrongful death suits can be complicated. If you have lost a loved one due to negligence, or have questions about whether there was negligence involved in the death, call us. The experienced legal team at The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare will guide you through the process, compassionately, and ensure you get everything you deserve.
Call The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare for your FREE Case Evaluation 972-960-0000 or Toll-Free 888-960-0020