Wrongful death is a legal concept that means one person’s death has been caused by the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of another. The responsible party can be another individual or an entity such as a corporation. A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of personal injury case that enables surviving family members to seek legal compensation from the person or company responsible for their loved one’s death.
Multiple factors can contribute to a case of wrongful death. Some of the more common scenarios include:
In Texas, lawyers representing the deceased’s family or estate must prove the following in order to successfully win a wrongful death suit:
- The defendant (person or company allegedly responsible for the death) had a duty to the deceased or to members of the public.
- The defendant failed in that duty.
- The fatality was caused by the defendant’s breach of duty.
- The survivors are damaged as a result of the loss of their loved one.
Once an attorney has established the four basic tenets of wrongful death, he or she must then demonstrate key facts about the deceased to help guide the amount and type of damages that the court awards to the survivors. The court considers the following factors:
- The relationship of the survivor(s) with the deceased
- The joint life expectancy of the deceased and the survivors
- The non-economical or emotional loss suffered by the survivor(s)
This information enables the judge or jury to assign a monetary value for compensation. No amount of money can truly compensate a family for the loss of a loved one, but a financial settlement can help survivors as they rebuild their lives. When the deceased was the primary wage-earner, compensation can be essential to the family’s security and well-being.
Wrongful death cases can be complicated; no one wants to accept blame for someone’s death, and frequently the defendant’s legal team will try and assign responsibility to another party – sometimes even blaming the victim. When the defendant is a large corporation, there may be shareholders and other financial interests at stake. Corporate legal counsel will work hard to avoid the notoriety and financial loss that a wrongful death claim can cause.
If you think you have a Texas wrongful death case, you need a law firm with the experience to take on tough cases, and the client dedication to ensure your rights and interests come first.