Wrongful Death: What You Need to Know
When you lose a loved one due to someone else’s mistake or negligence, it’s a terrible tragedy – and not that anything could make it right, but you need to know that you could be entitled to compensation. Texas law allows you to sue a person, entity or corporation when someone dies because of a wrongful act, lack of skill, neglect or carelessness.
What You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Some wrongful death lawsuits, including those involving refinery explosions that result from a lack of safety procedures and 18-wheeler accidents that result in someone’s death, are settled out of court. That means the party suing the company – the person or people who have lost a loved one – and their attorneys are able to negotiate what they consider a fair settlement.
If you don’t feel the settlement is fair, you can continue to negotiate or you can ask your wrongful death lawyer to take the case to court. If it goes to court, a judge will decide whether the company or entity you’re suing must compensate you.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Your attorney must show the court that the company or entity you’re suing was responsible for your loved one’s death. He or she will examine all the evidence, such as safety procedures and protocols the company had (or didn’t have) in place, hiring practices and other data to determine what led to the person’s death.
For example, if an 18-wheeler causes an accident, your attorney will look at the driver’s record to determine whether he or she completed the required safety courses, whether there was a maintenance issue with the truck or the truck was carrying too much cargo, and the driver’s log to see if he or she was working excessive hours leading up to the crash.
Compensation and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
There are two types of damages a court can award: compensatory and punitive. There’s no guarantee that the judge in your case will award either, but Texas law does allow for both.
If you settle out of court, it’s just called a “settlement” – there’s no such thing as compensatory or punitive. It’s simply a sum of money the company (or its insurance company) agrees to pay you to compensate you for the loss of your loved one.
What Are Compensatory Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In many cases, courts award the family members in a wrongful death lawsuit compensatory damages. This is money that’s meant to compensate you for losses, and it can include:
- Loss of child services
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of parental services
- Loss of spousal services
- Mental anguish
What Are Punitive Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In some cases, courts also award family members punitive damages. This money is designed to punish the person or entity that caused your loved one’s death – it’s a way to make an example out of bad behavior and discourage other companies or business entities from doing the same thing.
A judge can award punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit if the death was caused by the defendant’s willful act, omission or gross negligence.
How Do You Know if You Have a Wrongful Death Case?
For most people, it makes sense to talk to a local attorney who understands Texas wrongful death law and how it applies. Your attorney will ask you several questions so he can understand exactly what happened – that way, he’ll be able to explain the situation to the judge and jury.
If you think you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a hospital, we can help. We’ll work hard to get you the compensation you deserve, so call us right away for a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer. The sooner you call, the sooner we can begin building a case that gets you the best possible outcome.