Proving negligence in personal injury claims can be challenging without legal representation. Even when liability is apparent, plaintiffs must prove the defendant’s guilt.
If you’re pursuing a claim for the wrongful death of a loved one, it’s important to hire legal services. The top Houston wrongful death lawyer can advocate for your rights and build a strong case on your behalf.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death claims provide a legal avenue for the surviving family members and dependents of a deceased person to seek compensation when their loved one’s death resulted from someone else’s negligence or intentional actions. Here are five categories of people who can file a wrongful death claim:
Immediate Family Members
Immediate family members can include:
- Children, and
- Parents of the deceased.
The deceased’s immediate family members are typically given the first priority to file a wrongful death claim. They can pursue compensation for the loss of emotional and financial support that the deceased provided.
Life Partners and Financial Dependents
Where the deceased wasn’t legally married but lived with and financially supported someone, that person may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. This is especially relevant for domestic partners or those who relied on the deceased for financial support.
Distant Family Members
In some jurisdictions, distant family members such as siblings, grandparents, or aunts/uncles may have the right to file a wrongful death claim if there are no immediate family members or dependents eligible to do so.
If the deceased was a minor, the legal guardian can file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. Guardians have the responsibility to protect the interests of the child and seek compensation for their loss.
Sometimes, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate and its beneficiaries. This could include creditors or other parties with a financial interest in the estate.
Elements of a Strong Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims seek compensation for the death of a person caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions. A strong wrongful death claim should have the following key elements:
Duty of Care
The first element involves establishing that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. This typically means showing that the defendant had a legal obligation to act reasonably and prudently to prevent harm.
Breach of Duty
You must demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care. This often requires providing evidence that the defendant’s actions or inactions fell short of what a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation.
Plaintiffs must establish a direct link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the death of their loved one. This involves showing that the defendant’s actions were a substantial factor in causing the fatal injury.
Death of a Loved One
A wrongful death claim requires the tragic loss of a family member. You’ll need to prove the death of your loved one through a death certificate and other relevant documentation.
In most cases, you’ll need to appoint a personal representative of the deceased’s estate, typically a family member, to pursue the claim on behalf of the survivors.
Plaintiffs must prove the death resulted in specific damages, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral costs
- Lost income, and
- Emotional suffering.
Calculating these damages accurately is crucial for a successful claim.
Negligence or Wrongful Act
Proving that the death resulted from the defendant’s negligence or wrongful act is central to the claim. This could be a car accident, medical malpractice, product liability, or any other wrongful action.
Plaintiffs must demonstrate how the survivors have suffered as a result of the death. This includes the emotional anguish, loss of companionship, and financial hardships they have endured.
How Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?
As a best practice, always involve a lawyer when pursuing a personal injury claim. A wrongful death can assist you in many ways, including:
Experienced lawyers possess the right skills to navigate these intricacies efficiently. This ensures your case is built on solid legal foundations.
Skilled lawyers interview witnesses, obtain medical records, consult experts, and collect crucial documentation to strengthen your case.
Negotiation and Litigation
Wrongful death lawyers negotiate with insurance companies and opposing parties to secure fair settlements. Also, they can represent you in court if necessary.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is emotionally taxing. A compassionate attorney can provide support, guidance, and a shoulder to lean on.
Building a strong case requires thorough investigation, expert testimony, and a clear presentation of evidence. If you’re pursuing a wrongful death claim, consult a skilled lawyer to help you navigate the claims process.