According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 173,000 accidental injury deaths in the United States each year. These deaths occur under a variety of circumstances. From motor vehicle collisions to slip and fall accidents, the potential causes of accidental death are vast, and some of them result from the actions of a liable party, such as a property owner or a negligent driver.
When negligence results in the death of an individual, their surviving family members could be entitled to monetary compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. If you have lost a loved one due to the careless actions of someone else, you could be entitled to a monetary award from a wrongful death claim. The attorneys of Loncar Lyon Jenkins are prepared to guide you during this difficult time.
Damages You Can Seek in a Wrongful Death Claim
There are different types of compensation that could be available through a successful wrongful death lawsuit. The purpose of these claims is to compensate the loved ones of a deceased person as well as their estate for the emotional, physical, and financial losses stemming from the untimely death. Some of the damages in these cases could include:
- Lost earning power
- Lost maintenance
- Lost companionship
- Mental and emotional pain
- Lost inheritance
Working with an attorney from our firm can clarify whether these forms of compensation might be available in your case.
When can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
According to state law, it is possible to file a civil lawsuit when the death of a loved one results from any “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” that causes the loss of life. In many ways, these claims are treated as negligence claims that the deceased party might have pursued on their own if they had lived.
Every state approaches the right to file wrongful death suits differently. Some require a representative of the estate to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of all the surviving heirs. Other states provide the right to sue to limited parties, including the spouse or child of the deceased. In Texas, each of the decedent’s relatives has an equal right to bring a wrongful death claim.
Who has the Right to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The right to file a wrongful death lawsuit primarily rests with the decedent’s spouse, children, or parents. Each of these individuals has the right to file their own claim or join together and file a single lawsuit.
Natural and legally adopted adult children have the right to pursue these claims following the loss of their parents. Likewise, the parents of a legally adopted child can pursue a claim resulting from that child’s death.
These individuals maintain the exclusive right to file a wrongful death lawsuit for two years after the passing of their loved one, according to Texas Civil Practice and Code and Remedies Codes §71. If they do not pursue litigation within that time frame, they may lose the right to bring legal action against a liable party. Do not wait to begin working with a lawyer from our firm because it takes time to build a case.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits vs. Criminal Proceedings
Wrongful death lawsuits are different from criminal investigations and prosecutions. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim where the party that files it is in pursuit of monetary compensation. A criminal case is brought by the government, and the remedy available is incarceration.
That said, there can be overlap regarding the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal prosecution. A death could not only result in criminal charges but also lead to a civil claim as well. In many cases, the prospective plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit will wait to allow the criminal case to conclude first.
Types of Accidents that Warrant Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Any fatal injury could bring about a viable wrongful death claim when negligence is involved. That said, certain circumstances are more likely than others to result in a wrongful death lawsuit. Some examples include:
- Vehicle accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and some of them occur as the result of the negligence of another driver.
- Defective products. Some consumer goods and commercial products can malfunction in a way that causes fatal injuries. This could include anything from defective vehicle brakes to faulty kitchen appliances.
- Medical mistakes. Medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. While some procedures are inherently risky, an unfortunate number of deaths occur due to errors by doctors or other medical professionals.
- Falls. Slipping and falling represents a serious risk of injury and death, especially for older individuals. Property owners and occupiers that fail to address dangerous hazards on their property could face liability when they result in fatal falls.
These are only a few examples of common wrongful death claims. A wrongful death lawyer with our firm could review the facts surrounding the death of your loved one and advise if you have a viable claim for compensation.
Pursuing Justice Following the Untimely Death of Your Loved One
In many cases, a wrongful death lawsuit could be your only avenue to seek justice on behalf of your lost loved one. The good news is that you have the right to pursue a civil claim no matter what action the police take. If the state refuses to bring criminal charges, it will not diminish your ability to seek justice through a civil claim.
The attorneys of Loncar Lyon Jenkins understand the difficulty of losing a loved one. To discuss your legal options with a compassionate Irving wrongful death lawyer, call for your free initial consultation.