In Texas, survivors of someone who has died due to the negligence, recklessness or intentional harm inflicted by someone else can file a Houston wrongful death lawsuit against the person or persons responsible for the death. States differ somewhat in who can file, but in most cases minor children, a surviving spouse, and parents of a minor child can all file a wrongful death claim. Surviving spouses who are separated from the deceased can file in some states if they have neither deserted nor failed to provide financial support for the deceased. An adult child can file a lawsuit for the wrongful death of a parent, but it may be difficult to establish a case if the child is married or self-supporting. Someone accused of murder can be acquitted in a criminal action but still be sued by the victim’s survivors in a civil wrongful death action. Wrongful death cases in Houston are typically handled by wrongful death lawyers, work injury lawyers and personal injury attorneys. What Is The Purpose Of A Wrongful Death Claim? Wrongful death claims were originally intended to give financial support to wives and children of the deceased. It was hoped that having to provide compensation to families of the deceased would encourage responsible behavior and help to prevent harm to others. What Is Wrongful Death? Wrongful death is a fatality that is caused by a deliberate harmful act or by an act of negligence or omission. A wrongful death action might be filed against a man who has intentionally beaten his wife if she dies as a result of the injuries. A drunk driver who causes an accident that kills another person can be sued for wrongful death, even though the act of causing the death was due to negligence and not intentional. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against an employer for a workplace accident that occurs due to negligence and results in death. This type of case would typically be handled by an industrial accident attorney. Family Immunity Although survivors of the deceased are entitled to file a wrongful death claim against any and all parties responsible for the death, the family immunity doctrine prevents parties from bringing suit against members of their own families. This exception was designed to foster family harmony and to discourage families from defrauding insurance companies. However, strict interpretation of this rule has kept children from collecting insurance money they were due. As a result, a number of states no longer strictly apply family immunity and, in certain cases, a family member can sue another family member for wrongful death. Sovereign Immunity Sovereign immunity prevents lawsuits from being filed against state and local governments. Over the last several decades, however, many states have waived their right to sovereign immunity. If death occurs because a bystander was accidentally killed in a municipal law enforcement shootout, the survivors could sue the city for negligence that resulted in wrongful death. However, survivors must notify the government, generally within 30-90 days, if they intend to file suit, otherwise they can lose their right to file. Compensation And Damages To prevail, survivors bringing a wrongful death claim must be able to prove and clearly show that a negligent, reckless or harmful act, or a failure to act, were directly responsible for the death. Damage awards are designed to compensate survivors for financial and other losses resulting from the loss of the deceased. A compensation package to make restitution for the death may include lost income, medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of companionship, loss of services, and grief, all of which resulted directly from the death. Additional compensation in the form of punitive damages may be awarded if the perpetrator’s actions were exceptionally reckless or severe.