What Is Wrongful Death?

The loss of a loved one leaves many questions unanswered. If another person or entity is responsible for the incident that caused the fatal injury, those unknowns are especially painful.

A wrongful death lawsuit is one way survivors may be able to get financial support to lessen the burdens of their loss. While no amount of money can fill the place of your loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit can help provide the closure that allows your healing process to begin.

Components of a Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful death is an area of personal injury law that also includes car accidents, dog bites, and product liability. Every state in the United States has its own set of statutes that define and determine how wrongful death cases are filed in civil courts. Though there are differences in the statutes, the following four components are a part of wrongful death cases in every state.

An Injury Caused the Death of an Individual

The first component of a wrongful death case is that a human being died as a result of an injury. In some state statutes, the legal definition of individual may include a fetus. Even if the individual survives the incident but eventually dies as a result of the injury, this may qualify as a wrongful death.

The Fatal Injury Was the Result of Negligence or Misdeed

The next element of a wrongful death is that an individual or company caused the lethal injury. The parties who can be held responsible differ from state to state, though most allow for single or multiple persons to be held liable for the injury. The incident may be a result of negligence or a misdeed.

  • Negligence: A person or persons did not use due diligence, and the incident that caused the injury resulted from an error. This error may include such acts as a bus accident, tire defects, or lack of testing on a consumer product.

  • Misdeed: The inappropriate actions of a person or persons caused the fatal injury to the deceased party. Inappropriate actions may include those with malicious intent to injure or kill the deceased person. They also may not be malicious, such as when a person driving under the influence causes a fatal car accident.

Survivors of the Deceased Experience Material Hardship

The third component of a wrongful death claim is that surviving family members suffer a financial loss due to the death of the individual. The financial damages may include:

  • Medical costs for the deceased’s care

  • Funeral costs

  • Loss of deceased’s financial support

Appointment of a Personal Representative for the Deceased

The fourth component is that a personal representative files a wrongful death complaint on behalf of the deceased. State statutes vary on who may do this. In Texas, only a spouse, child, or parent are allowed to file a wrongful death case. Other states allow for extended relatives and other dependents of the deceased to file.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

The types of damages you may seek in a wrongful death case will depend on your loved one’s age and standing at death. Potential damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering: Physical and mental anguish to the deceased party caused by the fatal injury

  • Medical costs: Costs for the deceased party’s medical care from the injury leading up to the death

  • Funeral costs: Expenses for funeral arrangements

  • Loss of wages: Lost financial support due to the wrongful death

  • Loss of inheritance: Potential lifetime earnings of the deceased

  • Loss of companionship: Emotional impact on loved ones due to the wrongful death

Should I Get a Wrongful Death Attorney?

Recovering from the tragic loss of a loved one takes a lot of resources. You may feel the emotional toll first, but the financial impact is also overwhelming. If another person or entity caused your loved one’s death, you deserve to understand your options and rights when it comes to a wrongful death case.

If you think that you may have a wrongful death case, it is important to reach out to a wrongful death lawyer. Most states have a strict window of time to seek damages for wrongful death, so the earlier you involve a wrongful death attorney, the more likely he or she will be able to help you recover compensation for your loss.

At the Lopez Law Group, we understand the heartache of a wrongful death. Our wrongful death lawyer has over a decade of legal experience and a legal support staff with a combined total of 45 years of legal expertise. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your family move forward after the loss of your loved one.

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