Wrongful death is a type of tort claim arising from a death that is sadly caused by the negligent, willful, wrongful act, neglect, omission, or default of another.
In some cases, such as murder, criminal charges will be brought against the person who caused the death. A wrongful death claim, though, is not a criminal charge. It is a separate civil case brought by the family of the person who died against the person or persons responsible for the death.
A wrongful death claim is designed to provide some compensation to those who have lost their loved one because of the failure and negligence of someone else.
What Are The Different Types Of Wrongful Death?
There are many kinds of wrongful death. In some cases, the person who causes the wrongful death did it willfully, but most cases involve the death arising out of negligence.
Below are some of the most common types of activities from which a wrongful death claim arises:
- Car Accidents. Car accidents are one of the most common causes of death in the United States. In Texas, there were three 294 fatal crashes in 2019. In most crashes, at least one of the drivers was negligent. Distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding are common causes of car accidents. Sometimes, accidents can be caused by road problems or car malfunctions as well. In those cases, the state or manufacturer could be held liable for negligence instead of a driver.
- Work accidents. Work accidents are fairly standard in manual labor jobs like construction. Machinery malfunctions or environmental dangers often cause them. The negligence of a manager could cause some wrongful deaths. For example, if a person was forced to work too many hours and got in a wreck due to exhaustion, a manager or workplace could be held liable for the accident.
- Semi-Truck accidents. In 2018, at least 5,096 large trucks and buses were in fatal accidents. The huge size of semi-trucks means that damage from semi-truck accidents is usually catastrophic. In addition, while many accidents are caused by driver negligence, there are many other common reasons for semi-truck accidents. For example, poor manufacturing or overloading a semi could also cause a crash, making the manufacturer or trucking company liable.
- Aviation accidents. Aviation accidents are much rarer than car accidents, but they almost always result in fatalities. As in most accidents, an aviation crash could be caused by pilot error or manufacturer error.
- Pedestrian accidents. Pedestrian accidents are usually the result of a negligent driver hitting a pedestrian trying to cross the road. Fatalities are common because pedestrians have no protection from large cars.
- Defective product accidents. In some cases, accidents are caused because manufacturers did not properly test a product. Fatalities are commonly caused by faulty manufacturing in vehicles, children’s toys, pharmaceutical products, or even foods.
- Medical malpractice accidents. If a doctor or other medical provider makes a mistake that results in death, they could be held liable for wrongful death. Common mistakes they often make might include failing to diagnose or not following proper procedures.
How Much Can You Get For A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The amount you can get in a wrongful death case depends on a lot of factors. It is often a high amount because placing a price on death is really not possible. In Texas in 2019, the highest wrongful death cases won jury verdicts up to $36,240,000.00.
In most cases, wrongful death damages are awarded to help pay:
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income and earning capacity
- Punitive damages (in some cases, especially where a person caused the death through gross negligence or willful wrong action)
A wrongful death suit may be brought by a surviving parent, child, or spouse in Texas. Those who have lost the support and relationship of their loved ones deserve to be compensated in some small way.
How Hard Is It To Prove Wrongful Death?
There are four things you have to prove to prove that a wrongful death occurred:
- That the defendant had a duty of care to the person who died
- That the defendant breached their duty of care in a negligent manner
- That the breach of duty caused the death to occur
- That the death led to significant damages to the family left behind after the death
If you can prove these four things, then you will have a viable wrongful death case. It’s simple: you must make it evident that someone acted negligently when they were supposed to be taking care of your loved one. To help your case, you will need to have some evidence.
If you were at the accident scene, retrieve security, or video footage, try to take photos of the injuries and damage. Take any witness statements you can and keep contact information from the witnesses. You will also want to have medical records, a coroner’s report if there was one, and any record of the accident.
To have a successful wrongful death case, you will likely need to hire a personal injury attorney. Gathering all the evidence can be challenging, and there will be plenty of insurance companies, and other lawyers involved that must be dealt with. Personal injury lawyers have the expertise needed to deal with such stresses and help you get what you deserve.
If you lost a loved one in a wrongful death case, know that you are not alone. No one can place a price on the life of the person you loved, but you still have expenses to pay for, and you may need help.
A wrongful death lawyer will help you obtain the evidence you need to pursue a wrongful death case. We will do our best to take some of the stress from your shoulders and get you the compensation you deserve. Don’t hesitate to call Patterson Law Group today for a free consultation and case review.