In simple terms, you may qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit when another person or entity caused a death intentionally or through negligence. Misconduct, medical malpractice, drunk driving, reckless behavior, certain work accidents, or even defective products can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death claim is a legal remedy for the survivors when a family member was killed by a cause that could have been prevented. While nothing can return your loved one to you, the law allows you to seek compensatory damages for their loss.
This can help the family left behind to have some sense that justice was served, as well as provide for their financial security in an uncertain future. A wrongful death lawyer can help families to pursue their claims by helping with insurance negotiations and legal action.
Grounds for Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Proving a wrongful death occurred relies on proving that the death was a result of negligence. In any personal injury lawsuit, there are four elements you must show in order to prove that negligence was the determining factor.
These elements of negligence indicate that:
- A legal duty of care was owed to the plaintiff
- There was a breach of that duty
- The plaintiff suffered injury or damage
- The breach was the cause of that injury
Less commonly, a death may have been due to intentional action. Your attorney needs to establish how the defendant acted. If the defendant assaulted the victim with the intention of causing harm, intent has been established. Even if the defendant faces criminal charges for premeditated actions, you can still pursue a claim to hold them civilly liable for your losses.
A lawyer can gather evidence such as witness testimony to prove intent or negligence. Knowing how to find the right evidence can transform a case, so a lawyer with extensive trial experience can be very beneficial to your case.
What Are Some Common Reasons for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Many different accidents and situations can lead to a wrongful death. The most important factor in qualifying for a wrongful death lawsuit is establishing negligence or intentional action.
A wide variety of causes are cited in wrongful death claims such as:
- Medical malpractice: This can include misdiagnosis, a botched surgery, or prescribing a defective drug
- Defective drugs: For example, drugs that lead to cancer
- Defective medical devices: This can include cardiac pumps, faulty insulin pumps, defibrillators, and IVC blood clot filters
- Defective products: Dangerous defects like faulty tires and other auto parts, industrial machinery, and household appliances and electronics
- Premises liability: This can range from slip and fall accidents to electrocutions and even failure to take security measures to protect residents or customers
- Birth injuries: For example, the mother or fetus dies due to a failure to diagnose an infection or high blood pressure
- Auto accidents: This can stem from distracted drivers, drunk drivers, and reckless and aggresive drivers
These causes are all common factors in wrongful death claims as well:
- Construction accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Dog bite injuries
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Tourist accidents
Our legal team can review the details of your case at no cost and provide you with legal options. When you suspect another person’s actions or inaction resulted in the loss of your loved one, you deserve to know the truth. A wrongful death attorney may be able to help you find answers.
Who Is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Action?
Wrongful death claims were historically created to provide financial support to widows and orphans and many states adhere to this principle when dictating who can file a wrongful death suit. However, times have changed since the establishment of these laws, and so have the benefactors.
The state you live in will have laws regarding who can bring a wrongful death action. In general, most states designate the surviving spouse, children, and adoptive children. In some cases, it can be parents, siblings, or other descendants of the victim.
In Texas Civil Code § 71.004, the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased may file a wrongful death suit. However, in the event that none of these parties bring a suit within three months of the death, an administrator or executor has the legal right to file a wrongful death suit.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
While the law under Texas Civil Code § 16.003 dictates that you have two years from the date of death to pursue a claim in the state of Texas, the laws of your state will vary. Certain circumstances may shorten the time allowed for a wrongful death lawsuit, so it’s best to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
In medical malpractice claims and cases where government entities are involved, that legal deadline can be much shorter, sometimes expiring after a few months or a year.
Evidence can be lost or degraded with time, and it can become increasingly difficult to find proof to validate your claim. The best time to reach out for legal assistance is as soon as possible after the death.
Contact a Lawyer to Learn if Your Circumstance Qualifies for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If your loved one lost their life due to someone else’s negligence, you need an experienced lawyer to fight for your rights. Your family can seek justice and the financial compensation you need to face this new chapter in your life.
Contact the wrongful death lawyers of the Buzbee Law Firm to learn more about how we may be able to help you. Our attorneys can take care of the legal details for you and help you understand if your case qualifies for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Pursuing compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one is your legal right. Let us help you.