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What does it mean that someone’s death was a “wrongful death” in Texas?

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Robert C. Hilliard - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Robert C. Hilliard

Located in Corpus Christi, TXHilliard Martinez Gonzales LLP

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People often assume that wrongful death means that someone died in an accident. And this is true, but what many people don’t realize is that there are many types of accidents, including work accidents, which are viable wrongful death suits.

Who files a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death claim is brought about by a family member when they lose someone in an accident that was caused by negligence. Usually, that person is the spouse or parent.  

What is a survival action claim?

If somebody dies and they don’t have wrongful death claim, they may have a survival action. This means that the estate of the deceased sues on behalf of the person who died. The estate can sue for the pain and suffering of the person who died, the hospital bills and funeral costs. These are known as injuries and damages. Typically in a survival action claim there is a space of time between the accident and the death.

Who represents the estate?

Typically the spouse acts as the representative for the children, the estate and for themselves.

In what types of situations can family members file a wrongful death suit?

There are many instances when filing a wrongful death claim may be advisable. These include:

  • If a doctor or hospital’s negligence caused the death
  • In a fatal motor vehicle, boating or transportation accident
  • If the person died due to exposure to hazardous conditions or substances
  • If the person was murdered
  • If the person died due to a defective product
  • If the person died at work because of the job
  • If the person died during a supervised activity

It’s important to know that accidents and, sadly, deaths can happen anywhere including places that are supposed to be fun or recreational. Sometimes there are red flags that people in authority ignore, and these are potential causes of action.

Can I still file for wrongful death in a worker’s compensation case?

Yes. There are many circumstances where you might think you don’t have a cause of action, or right to file a wrongful death claim, but you do.  For example, if your spouse was killed at work, you can collect worker’s compensation and additional compensation if there is gross negligence. A lawyer who works in wrongful death can determine if there is additional compensation you are entitled to.

If you lost a loved one due to an accident that was someone else’s fault, contact a lawyer who works in wrongful death immediately. Even if you do not have a wrongful death claim, in some cases you may be able to file a survival action lawsuit.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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