The loss of a loved one is difficult even when his or her death is expected, such as after a long illness. However, when tragedy strikes suddenly, a family may experience a flood of emotions, including rage, confusion and grief. The sudden death of a loved one in an accident may be even more difficult to bear if the accident resulted from the negligence or reckless actions of another.
If you have suffered such a loss, whether of a spouse, child or parent, you may wonder about your options. While it is impossible to put a monetary value on your loved one’s life, you are undoubtedly facing expenses and financial loss because of the accident. You may have cause to seek a wrongful death claim against the person whose actions resulted in your loved one’s death.
Damages you may seek
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action family members can take to seek financial redress after someone else caused the death of a loved one. This may have been an intentional or negligent act, such as a car accident, medical malpractice or even the commission of a crime. The burden of proof is on you to show the court that the other person’s action brought about the death of your loved one and that you have suffered financially because of it.
A successful claim may allow you to collect the following damages:
- Reimbursement of your loved one’s final medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Wages your loved one would have earned for the rest of his or her normal life
- Compensation for your emotional distress and other suffering because your loved one is no longer with you
In some situations, the court will agree to add damages to punish the actions of the person responsible for the accident. The court calls these punitive or exemplary damages, and you will have an even higher burden of proof if you seek this type of damages in your case.
Making your decision
Filing a lawsuit to seek compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one is a tremendous undertaking and one you may not be able to think about soon after the tragedy. However, in Texas, as in most states, you have a limited amount of time to decide to take this action. Additionally, the longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to gather the evidence you need to meet your high burden of proof.
Because of the complicated nature of a wrongful death lawsuit, you would be wise to seek as much sound advice and guidance as possible.