What is Wrongful Death?
Losing a loved one is devastating under any circumstances. It can be even more difficult to grieve a loved one’s death when that death could have been prevented.
Although it can seem impossible to think about filing a lawsuit when you are facing the aftermath of the loss of a family member, it is important to hold the responsible party accountable.
When a family member sustains fatal injuries because of another party’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim in order to seek financial compensation from the responsible party.
Even if you suspect you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, you still may be wondering: what is wrongful death according to the law, and what else do I need to know about a wrongful death lawsuit? While each state has its own wrongful death laws, we want to provide you with more information about wrongful death in general and how you can begin the process of filing a claim.
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Wrongful death law is a specific type of law that is related closely to personal injury law. As we mentioned above, each state has its own wrongful death laws. To give you a sense of how wrongful death is defined in state statutes, we can take a look at Texas law.
Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.002, wrongful death is defined as a situation in which someone is liable for damages arising from an injury that causes another person’s death if the injury was caused by the party’s wrongful act or neglect.
Wrongful death is closely tied to personal injury law because both types of claims arise when a person suffers an injury as a result of another party’s carelessness or intentionally harmful act.
Whereas personal injury law allows the injured person to file a claim to seek compensation, wrongful death law recognizes that the injured person—as a result of succumbing to his or her injuries—is no longer alive and able to file a claim.
As such, wrongful death law allows a close family member to file a claim on behalf of the deceased. In addition to seeking the types of damages that the injured person would have been eligible to seek, the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit can also seek compensation for losses tied specifically to the loss of the deceased, such as funeral or burial costs and loss of companionship.
Who Can File a Claim in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Typically, a close family member is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Many states describe the party who files a wrongful death lawsuit as the “personal representative” of the deceased. While the party who can file a claim varies from state to state, we will use Texas as an example. In Texas, the following parties may be eligible to file a lawsuit:
- Surviving spouse;
- Surviving children;
- Parent of the deceased;
- Personal representative; or
- Executor/executrix of the estate.
Learn More from a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Texas
At Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C., we regularly assist clients with personal injury and wrongful death claims in New Mexico and Texas.