If your spouse, child or parent died as the result of someone’s negligence or wrongdoing, you have the right to sue the responsible person for your loved one’s wrongful death.
As FindLaw explains, wrongful deaths can result from a wide range of situations, including the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
Elements of proof
In Texas, you must prove the following to win your wrongful death suit:
- The defendant owed your loved one a legal duty.
- He or she breached that duty.
- The breach caused your loved one to suffer an injury that resulted in his or her death.
- You sustained monetary damages because of the death.
You can expect to receive both economic and noneconomic damages if you win your suit. Economic damages are those to which you can easily attach a dollar value, such as your loved one’s medical and funeral expenses and loss of income. Noneconomic damages are subjective losses you suffered as a result of your loved one’s death, such as your emotional anguish and the loss of his or her love and companionship.
Occasionally, Texas courts also award exemplary, i.e., punitive, damages in wrongful death actions. To receive these damages above your economic and noneconomic damages, you will need to prove that the defendant acted willfully or with gross negligence in causing your loved one’s death.
Unlike in a criminal trial, however, where the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, you need to prove your allegations only by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, you must convince the court that it is more likely than not that the defendant committed the alleged acts.