It is nearly impossible to be prepared for the unexpected death of a loved one. When a parent, spouse or child dies in a preventable traffic accident, you may experience emotions ranging from sorrow to grief to fury. This is perfectly natural, especially when the accident was the result of someone else’s negligence or intentional actions.

When family members lose a loved one in this way, they may be entitled to compensation through the civil courts. This type of action is a wrongful death claim. Like other kinds of lawsuits, you will have the burden of proving certain factors to the court in order for your claim to be successful.

What is wrongful death?

The circumstances of every accident are different, and your loved one’s accident may have many variables to consider. However, the legal grounds for filing a wrongful death claim include the following:

  • You and other surviving members of the family are suffering in measurable ways because of the loss of your loved one.
  • Your loved one’s actions did not cause the fatal event.
  • Your loved one died because of someone else’s deliberate, reckless or negligent actions.

These actions may include speeding, driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, driving while distracted by texting or other activities, or losing control of the vehicle because of horseplay behind the wheel, among other things.

Think about the future

You will file your lawsuit in the name of your loved one, so you will need to probate your loved one’s estate. You may also have to deal with the courts if your loved one left behind children who will need a legal guardian. A successful claim can result in obtaining compensation for your loved one’s final medical bills, funeral expenses and lost wages. You may also seek compensation for the suffering you and your family feel because of the absence of your loved one.

Texas also allows families in wrongful death cases to seek punitive damages. The court may award punitive damages to punish the driver whose actions resulted in the death of your loved one. While you may feel there is no amount of money that will truly compensate you for the loss of your family member, you must agree that the last thing you want to be worrying about is the financial struggle you may face because he or she is no longer around.