The main reason to file a wrongful death suit is to get help for the direct dependents of the deceased, but it’s also a process that can help you get closure after a painful and life-changing event. However, getting justice for a loved one who died due to wrongful action is not easy. Wrongful death is usually not easy to prove, so you need a wrongful death lawyer by your side. There are many specific situations where a wrongful death attorney can help, but the following are some of the most common.
6 Situations to Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer
1. Pharmaceutical Errors
All pharmacies and medical staff have a legal responsibility to check accuracy before dispensing medication to any patient. This responsibility extends to pharmacy clerks, technicians, and other staff related to said medication delivery. If your family member died due to a pharmaceutical error, you could file a wrongful death suit. Pharmaceutical errors include:
- Filling a wrong prescription
- Making a mistake in administering the drugs
- Not reviewing the patient’s allergies and other adverse drug interactions
- Administering the wrong medication/proper medication at the wrong dosage in a nursing home or hospital
2. Workplace Accidents
According to Texas laws, if someone is killed in the workplace, their family is entitled to worker’s compensation. However, if someone’s death directly results from a third party being negligent at the workplace, you may have a wrongful death case. Wrongful death attorneys in Bryan, TX can help you better understand your rights and your chances of winning a workplace wrongful death suit.
3. Car Accidents
If your family member was the innocent party in a car crash and died, you can file a wrongful death claim. Examples of situations when an accident directly results from negligence include roads that are not properly maintained, a car that fails due to manufacturer’s errors, an employer who does not respect safety rules for drivers, and the other driver’s reckless driving.
4. Medical Errors and Malpractice
Medical malpractice is a concept that includes any conduct by a healthcare professional that falls below industry standards. Mistakes in administering anesthesia or medication, surgical errors, and misdiagnosis resulting in a patient’s death are all grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s important to note that Texas has established specific caps on the amounts awarded for non-economic damages to a plaintiff in this type of lawsuit.
5. Product Liability
Every product sold to the public must meet specific safety standards. These standards vary according to the industry; however, three main defect classes can lead to a wrongful death case: misleading marketing, defective design, and defective manufacturing. Retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers are all liable for product defects that result in the death of a consumer.
6. Residential and Commercial Liability
Contractors, landlords, property managers, and other professionals in charge of residential or commercial spaces are required by law to guarantee the safety of occupants and visitors. When a person dies due to the negligence of those professionals, you can file a wrongful death suit.
Some of the most common causes for wrongful death claims related to a property include exposure to toxic chemicals, fire or explosion, trips and falls, slips and falls, the collapse of a building, code violations, and failure to maintain or repair the premises.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Texas is particular about who can file a wrongful death claim and only allows immediate family (adoptive or biological parents, adoptive or birth children, and spouse) to do so. The state does recognize common law marriage if the union meets certain conditions, such as living together and having agreed to be married. Extended family members, boyfriends/girlfriends, foster parents, and stepparents cannot file a wrongful death claim in the state.
What Happens After You File
During the trial, you will need to prove that the death of your loved one happened as a direct result of negligence or ill intention of a third party. Your lawyer will help you gather evidence, such as medical records, police records, and video or audio recordings. Then, you’ll need to prove that:
- You were directly affected by the death (for example, if you were a financial dependent of the deceased)
- You have a legal right to recover
The court will consider several factors such as income history, the life expectancy of the deceased, and expenses directly related to the death (medical bills, funeral expenses) to determine the amount owed to you in damages. They will also consider elements such as “loss of companionship” and “pain and suffering,” Depending on the actions leading to the death, they may even consider awarding punitive damages.
It is important to note that the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in Texas is two years. However, it’s best to start the process soon after the incident, as substantial evidence may be easier to access the earlier you file.