What Is A Wrongful Death Suit?
If someone dies or is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another, the survivors may sue for “wrongful death.” These types of lawsuits seek compensation for the survivors’ loss, such as lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship, and funeral expenses.
A wrongful death claim exists when a person dies due to the legal fault of another person. That person could be the driver at fault in a car accident or a bartender who served alcohol to a drunk driver, among others.
Wrongful death statutes vary from state to state, but they generally define who may sue for wrongful death and if any limits may be applied to an award of damages. Originally, wrongful death statutes were created to provide financial support for widows and orphans.
Who can sue for wrongful death?
State laws provide for recovery by a surviving spouse, immediate family members, children, and even parents of a deceased fetus. It all depends on your state’s wrongful death statute, and may differ from those considered heirs under state law for intestate inheritance purposes. Generally speaking, though, a suit for wrongful death is brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
Every state has a civil “wrongful death statute,” or set of statutes, which establishes the procedures for bringing wrongful death actions.
Actions for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering, or expenses incurred prior to the decedent’s death are also brought by the personal representative. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties as directed by the decedent’s will.
Wrongful Death Suits After Criminal Trials
Wrongful death lawsuits sometimes come after a criminal trial, using similar evidence, but are held to a lower standard of proof. Take, for example, the criminal and civil trials of ex-football star O.J. Simpson. He was found not guilty of murder because the criminal jury couldn’t find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The civil jury, however, did find him liable (by a preponderance of the evidence) for the wrongful deaths of the two victims.
How to Prove Wrongful Death
To successfully bring a wrongful death cause of action, the plaintiff typically must show the following:
- 1) The death of a human being
- 2) The death was caused by another’s negligence, or with intent to cause harm
- 3) The survival of family members who are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death
- 4) The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent’s estate
Wrongful Death Damages
Pecuniary, or financial, injury is the main measure of damages in a wrongful death action. Courts have interpreted “pecuniary injuries” to include loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses. Most laws provide that the damages awarded for a wrongful death shall be fair and just compensation for the pecuniary injuries that resulted from the decedent’s death. If the distributees paid or are responsible for the decedent’s funeral or medical care, they may also recover those expenses. Finally, a damage award will include interest from the date of the decedent’s death.
Spanish Speaking Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, Texas
Spanish-speaking individuals can have a more difficult time seeking justice in their personal injury cases due to language barriers. This causes them to not take action against those who have left them with financial devastation and physical trauma. At the Law Office of Beverly R. Caruthers, our team refuses to let a language barrier affect your right to justice and compensation. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident and is in need of Spanish-speaking legal advice, our team is here for you.
We make it easy for those who have been injured due to the actions of others to navigate the legal system in order to get the results they need to continue on in their lives. Schedule your no-obligation car accident consultation with Attorney Caruthers today. Our team will work with you every step of the way to ensure your needs are being met and that you are getting the treatment you deserve in your car accident case. Don’t hesitate, the sooner you call the more we can do to get you results.
Personal Injury Law Office in Houston, Texas
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury, experienced loss of income, or are unable to work due to a car accident, you can benefit from the services of a Houston car accident expert in your personal injury case. Whether you missed work due to an injury or due to not having access to a vehicle, Attorney Beverly R. Caruthers can help you!
Our team works hard to bring the most efficient and practical solutions to your car accident case. Beverly R. Caruthers proudly serves and defends the Greater Houston area including but not limited to Baytown, Conroe, Crosby, Humble, Huntsville, Lake Jackson, Missouri City, Pasadena, Spring, Tomball.