In the event that someone dies through the fault of another individual or entity, a lawsuit could be filed by certain survivors. The purpose of this type of lawsuit is to seek compensation and damages for the loss that the survivors are going through because of the death. These damages could include everything from funeral expenses to lost wages. The following provides a comprehensive guide on these claims and who can file wrongful death claims. (However, we highly recommend hiring a wrongful death lawyer that can walk you through the process and make sure you get the money you and your family deserves.)
What Is This Type of Claim?
A wrongful death claim can be filed when an individual dies because of the legal fault of another individual. These claims can involve everything from medical malpractice to car accidents. Government agencies, companies, and individuals could be at fault for the death that occurred. In order for these claims to be successful, you will be required to prove that the entity responsible for the death was negligent or acted intentionally, which is a process that’s best handled by an attorney. A claim such as this is typically filed by someone who is a representative of the deceased individual’s estate.
When can a Wrongful Claim Can Be Filed?
There are many situations wherein this type of claim is applicable. If the individual who died would have been able to file a personal injury claim if they had remained alive after the incident, it’s likely that a wrongful death claim can be filed in its place. If the victim is killed intentionally, a civil lawsuit can be brought against the murderer. Another common reason for this claim to be filed is medical malpractice. Whether a doctor doesn’t diagnose a condition or is careless with the care that they provide, a claim could be brought against the doctor if the affected individual died as a result of this negligence.
It’s also possible to file this claim for car accident fatalities. If an individual dies because of the injuries that occurred from a car accident, a claim could be filed in the event that another driver is at fault for the accident. However, fault will need to be proven, which can be difficult unless there were eyewitnesses. In this situation, it’s recommended that you contact our personal injury attorneys for assistance. We can help you determine if your case would classify for this type of claim.
These are just several examples of the types of cases that a claim could be filed for. A couple of additional situations that could call for a claim to be filed include slip and fall accidents that resulted in death and dog bites. The only type of personal injury that wouldn’t lead to this claim being filed is a work-related injury. If someone dies because of injuries that they sustained at work, the claim would be handled directly through the workers’ compensation system.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
It’s important to understand that not everyone can file one of these lawsuits, which remains the case even if the death occurred because of the negligence or intentional act of another individual. This claim needs to be filed by an individual who can act as a representative of the survivors. This representative will typically be the executor of the estate.
In every state, all immediate family members can file this claim, which include children, spouses, and the parents of children who were unmarried at the time of their death. There are also times when an adopted child may be able to file this claim. However, the adoption must be wholly legal and 100 percent complete.
Under Texas law, any surviving siblings are unable to file a claim. The same is true of any surviving grandparents and any other distant family members. While some states allow financial dependents and life partners to file a claim, this is not the case with Texas. With this information in mind, you should have a better understanding of who can file one of these lawsuits.
Who Can Be Sued?
These claims can be brought against a wide range of different entities, which include individuals, government agencies, employees, and companies. The types of entities that this claim can be filed against depend entirely on the cause for the injuries and resulting death. In the event of a car accident, a lawsuit could include such defendants as:
- The driver of the other vehicle or the employer of the driver in the event that a fleet vehicle was involved
- The architect or designer of a faulty road
- The individuals who sold alcohol to an impaired driver
- The distributor or manufacturer of a part that was faulty
- A government agency that didn’t implement proper warnings for a road hazard
Naming more entities in the lawsuit could allow you to obtain higher compensation if the lawsuit is successful. When you contact one of our personal injury lawyers, we can help you determine which entities can be included in the lawsuit that you file.
Damages You May Be Able to Obtain
If a family member or friend died recently in a manner that could be construed as wrongful, you may have cause to file a lawsuit. When filing this type of lawsuit, there are numerous damages that you can seek. These damages include:
- Any expenses related to the burial or funeral, which include casket costs
- The loss of any inheritance that you would have otherwise received if not for the death
- The pain and suffering that the deceased individual experienced before their death
- Any expenses for medical treatment that occurred as a result of the injury but before the individual died
- Loss of nurturing, care, and guidance that the deceased individual would have provided
- The value of any services that would have been provided by the deceased individual
- Loss of expected income
When looking specifically at the pain and suffering damages that you can obtain, this refers to the emotional pain that the deceased individual went through before they died. Most insurance companies will make a calculation for pain and suffering when settling a personal injury claim. Compensation for pain and suffering can be sought if you can prove that the deceased individual experienced emotional pain and discomfort before the death occurred.
When to Hire a Lawyer
While it’s certainly possible to handle a personal injury claim with an insurance company on your own, you should always have a lawyer by your side when filing a claim for wrongful death. An experienced lawyer can assist you in navigating the complex legal process that’s involved with filing this type of lawsuit. The main problem with this kind of claim is that you will be required to prove that an individual or entity was responsible for the death through negligence or a direct and intentional action.
While reputable lawyers like ours have experience dealing with this type of case and gathering the kind of information that’s needed to prove fault, you might overlook some required steps in this process if you attempt to navigate it on your own. There are a number of notable benefits that come with hiring a personal injury lawyer when you’re getting ready to make your claim. For one, an attorney has comprehensive knowledge of the entire legal process, which means that mistakes will be kept to a minimum. This knowledge will also be used to ensure that a strong case is built for you and your claim.
Hiring a wrongful death attorney can also save you both time and money with this type of claim. If you attempt to file a lawsuit on your own, you would likely take much longer to navigate all of the hurdles that come with this case. There are numerous documents that must be filed by strict deadlines, which you would need to stay on top of. Hiring an attorney allows you to effectively avoid these frustrations. An experienced wrongful death attorney will also understand the value of the claim and be able to estimate how much compensation you should receive in the event that the case goes to court.
Attorneys can provide extensive support as well, which means that any documentation that needs to be filled out and filed will be handled by the attorney. While many of these claims are settled before going to trial, an attorney will be able to take your case to trial in the event that a settlement can’t be reached. These are just some of the many reasons why it’s a good idea to have legal representation for this particular type of lawsuit.
If a family member of yours recently died as the result of negligence or an intentional act, it’s important that you hire a personal injury attorney to represent your claim. Under state law for Texas, you have a period of two years to file one of these claims, which starts upon the death of the individual in question. The only exception to this rule is if the plaintiff for the lawsuit is a child. To start looking at all of the options available to you, get in touch with our personal injury attorneys today. We provide free consultations at our Huntsville offices.