"Developing our capacity for compassion makes it possible for us to help others in a more skillful and effective way." - Joan Halifax
The term “accidental death” refers to a fatality that has occurred as a result of an accident. Accidental deaths can occur anywhere and at any time.
Deaths that either occur intentionally (such as homicide, murder, manslaughter) or as a result of a criminal act (burglary, DUI) are usually handled in a criminal case. Accidental deaths that do not fall under criminal cases may have rights in a civil suit if the accident was due to the negligence of another (person, company, entity etc.). This would be considered a personal injury/wrongful death case. When an accidental death/wrongful death suit is filed it is usually filed by a family member of the deceased. The intention of an accidental death civil suit is to hold the negligent party responsible for the death that occurred. This may be resolved with a monetary compensation to assist the family with expenses that they may incur due to the death of a family member.
A wrongful death claim is a claim against someone that can be held liable for a death. The actual death must have been caused by the defendants conduct; but may have not necessarily had the intention of killing the victim. The deceased must also have family members who have suffered emotional or monetary damages as a result of the death.
Wrongful death suits often find their way into civil cases; when criminal cases do not result in a conviction. If a case is a criminal case, it will not always be a civil case. Usually a civil case is filed if the defendant is found “not guilty” in a court of law within the criminal case. If this occurs; a civil suit may be filed against the defendant for activities that resulted in the persons injuries (not activities that resulted in the person’s death) in an attempt to hold them accountable for the wrongful death in a civil case. In Texas, a wrongful death claim is created by the Wrongful Death Statute which provides a cause of action for wrongful death for parents, spouses and children of a decedent.