Coping with the death of a loved one is difficult enough without the added pressure of lingering medical bills. So, how do you handle debts after death? It is a practical question, after all. Few of us leave this life without some debt lingering, but what if the medical debt is a result of an accident that wasn’t the fault of the deceased?
“If a client’s loved one was involved in an accident at the fault of someone else but doesn’t die right away, the negligent party is still responsible for the medical expenses that accrued between the time of the accident and time of death. Just because a person has died, it doesn’t release the negligent party,” Brad says.
Difference Between a Survival Claim and a Wrongful Death Claim
A survival claim centers around the suffering of the deceased person rather than the grief and financial losses of the family. In a survival claim, the decedent’s estate could recover damages relating to the pain and suffering of the victim and the decedent’s medical bills and lost earnings. It is similar to what the person would have recovered in a personal injury case if he or she had survived.
A wrongful death claim involves the family of the deceased person and allows the spouse, children or parents to file a civil lawsuit for damages. Grief and suffering the family has endured is considered among the damages when determining compensation. The damages in a wrongful death claim are based on the loss of the relationship between the deceased and their loved one.
When it comes to calculating the damages, juries will look at how the victim’s death affects the survivors both financially and emotionally. Each case is different; someone who was a stay-at-home parent would have a different calculation method than someone who was a wage earner.
Brad says, “It is often based on the relationship you’ve had with the loved one. Were they an integral part of your life, were you estranged from the deceased, or did you only see them once a year? A jury will look at the day-to-day relationship with that person.”
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Texas, only certain family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person responsible. These family members include:
Both legal and common law spouses can file a claim. A spouse who has remarried since the death is also permitted to pursue a wrongful death case.
Biological and adopted children are also able to pursue legal action against those responsible for the death of a parent. Adopted children may only bring a claim for an adoptive parent, not a biological one.
Similarly to children, parents are able to file a claim after the death of a biological or adopted child.
Brad says, “Sometimes this can be very problematic because what about situations where the children were raised by the grandparents?”
Some states impose restrictions even on these family members based on age or dependence, but that is not so in Texas. Surviving family members may file singly, or they can all file together.
“Under a wrongful death claim you're entitled to recover the loss of companionship, society, support and comfort that was lost as a result of the death of your loved one due to the negligence or pure stupidity of someone else,” Brad says.
If a loved one has died due to the negligence or stupidity of someone else, give our Bedford office a call at 817-440-3888 and we would be happy to meet with you to determine how we can fight to get you the compensation you deserve. You can also fill out our contact form and we will get back to you within 24 hours.
Has A Loved One Died Due To The Negligence of Others?
If your loved one has died due to the negligence of someone else an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you hold them responsible. Contact us online or call our Bedford, Texas office directly at 817.440.3888 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.