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When is a family member’s passing actually a wrongful death?

Anytime someone close to you dies, it definitely feels wrong. Some people will struggle to accept the reality of their loss, experiencing first denial and, then, profound depression after an unexpected death. Even those who recognize the reality of the situation may struggle to make sense of why their family has to go through this heartbreaking experience.

However tragic the circumstances may be for your family, not every loss qualifies as wrongful death in the eyes of the law. There are only a limited number of circumstances in which someone dying puts their family members in a position to pursue a civil lawsuit against someone else, possibly even a business.

When can surviving family members or loved ones seek compensation through wrongful death claims?

State law establishes the specific rule

Every state has its own statute regarding what qualifies as wrongful death. In Texas, the statute specifically says people can take legal action when a death results from a “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.” In Louisiana, the law says that someone dying because of a criminal offense or quasi-offense is grounds for a lawsuit.

Essentially, when a person or business does something that breaks the law or that a reasonable person would agree is unnecessarily risky, they may have legal and financial liability for any situation that results from their actions or inaction.

Can you file a wrongful death lawsuit?

There are limitations on wrongful death claims. In both Texas and Louisiana, the state gives the right to file a lawsuit to the members of the deceased party’s family. Spouses and children typically have the highest priority, but parents, grandparents, siblings and other family members can take legal action if there are no closer family members.

Such lawsuits can lead to compensation for everything from the costs of someone’s funeral to the lost wages they would have earned for the family if they survived. Even their unpaid labor performed for the family can lead to financial compensation for their surviving loved ones.

Learning more about what constitutes a wrongful death and who has the right to initiate such a lawsuit can help your family offset the many losses it suffered with the death of a loved one.