Overview Of Wrongful Death Lawsuits - Part 1


When a person dies or is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another, the surviving members of the victim's family may sue for "wrongful death." While most wrongful death lawsuits follow in the wake of criminal trials, someone found liable for wrongful death may or may not be convicted of a crime associated with that death.


A suit for wrongful death may only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent's estate. Every state has a civil "wrongful death statute," or set of statutes, which establish the procedures for bringing wrongful death actions. Actions for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering, or expenses incurred prior to the decedent's death are also brought by the personal representative. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties as directed by the decedent's will.


This 4 part series of articles will provide an overview of the wrongful death lawsuit process.  The key elements covered will be:


  • Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
  • Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
  • Determining Pecuniary Loss
  • Adjustments in the Jury's Award
  • Using Expert Testimony to Determine Pecuniary Loss
  • Punitive Damages
  • Survival Actions for Personal Injury


Part 1 in this series will address Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit.


Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit


In order to bring a successful wrongful death cause of action, the following elements must be present:


  • The death of a human being;
  • Caused by another's negligence, or with intent to cause harm;
  • The survival of family members who are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death, and;
  • The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent's estate.


A wrongful death claim may arise out of a number of circumstances including but not limited to the following examples:


  • Medical malpractice that results in decedent's death;
  • Automobile or airplane accident;
  • Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances;
  • Criminal behavior;
  • Death during a supervised activity.


Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit


Pecuniary, or financial, injury is the main measure of damages in a wrongful death action. Courts have interpreted "pecuniary injuries" as including the loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses. Most laws provide that the damages awarded for a wrongful death shall be fair and just compensation for the pecuniary injuries that resulted from the decedent's death. If the heirs to the decedent’s estate paid or are responsible for the decedent's funeral or medical care, they may also recover those expenses. Finally, a damage award will include interest from the date of the decedent's death.


Call your Amarillo wrongful death lawyer right away


If a loved one has died after an accident or injury caused by the negligence or misconduct of another individual or company, you may be entitled to bring a legal action for wrongful death against those responsible. Due to the time deadlines for filing such a lawsuit, it is important that you contact an experienced Amarillo wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and your potential case. When the unexpected happens and you need an experienced professional Amarillo wrongful death attorney you know you can count on Bill Cornett.  For well over 45 years, Amarillo attorney William (Bill) Cornett has been there to help in an uncertain time.  If you need him, Bill is there.  Call him today.


Your most important action may end up being the phone call that you make to your Amarillo wrongful death lawyer.  In the Texas Panhandle that call should be to Amarillo wrongful death lawyer Bill Cornett.  Be safe and be smart…remember these phone numbers (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618.


Put Cornett Law Firm’s 45+ years of experience to work for you


Bill Cornett, Amarillo Attorney with Cornett Law Firm, offers affordable, qualified services as an experienced personal injury lawyer, probate attorney, family law attorney, criminal law attorney, DWI attorney and divorce attorney. Bill also has experience in estate planning and agriculture law. Sit down with Bill at his office located at 612 S. Van Buren St. in Amarillo TX by calling (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618 TODAY to schedule a free consultation.


Bill Cornett recently handled a commercial truck accident case where a rear wheel came off a moving trailer which resulted in a $1,400,000 recovery for his clients.  The case was settled when an expert witness was produced that proved negligence on the part of the defendants.  This was a tragic case that resulted in a large settlement which was deserved by the clients. Let Bill Cornett go to work for you to make sure you get the settlement you deserve.


Cornett Law Firm - Amarillo Attorney Bill Cornett


(806) 374 - 9498

Bill Cornett


Bill Cornett grew up on a farm in Knox City, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from Texas Tech University and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law School. Bill was licensed to practice law in the State of Texas in 1973.

Cornett Law Firm - Amarillo Attorney Bill Cornett Cornett Law Firm - Amarillo Attorney Bill Cornett Cornett Law Firm - Amarillo Attorney Bill Cornett