If you recently lost a loved one in Texas as the result of someone’s negligence or misconduct, you may wish to file a wrongful death suit against that person. FindLaw explains that in a wrongful death suit, you sue the person whose negligence or misconduct caused your loved one’s death so as to recover the economic losses brought about when your loved one died.
Wrongful death defendants usually are doctors, other health care professionals, employers, negligent drivers who caused fatal accidents, negligent property owners, or manufacturers and/or distributors of defective products.
Elements of proof
In Texas, you can file a wrongful death suit if you are the spouse, child or parent of the decedent. Or you and the other eligible family members can jointly file the suit. To prevail in your wrongful death suit, you must prove all four of the following:
- The defendant owed your loved one a duty of care.
- The defendant breached his or her duty by something (s)he did or failed to do.
- The defendant’s breach proximately caused your loved one’s death.
- You and the other plaintiffs, if there are any, suffered damages because of your loved one’s death.
Once you prove the first three elements, you then must prove what damages you sustained and the value of them. Common types of damages include the following:
- The amount of your loved one’s medical and funeral expenses
- The value of your loved one’s pain and suffering from the time of his or her injury to the time of his or her death
- The value of your loss of your loved one’s support; that is, the value of his or her income if (s)he had continued living
- The value of your loss of your loved one’s services
- The value of your loss of your prospective inheritances from your loved one
A judge or jury may also award you punitive damages if the defendant’s actions and/or conduct were especially egregious. While this information is not legal advice, it can help you understand wrongful death and what you must prove.