Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death? And Who Can Be Sued?

Over in Galveston County a tragic family drama is playing out. A young man is suing his father for the wrongful death of his mother. The case has a lot of people asking just who can sue for wrongful death, and who can be sued?

The Case That Has Everyone Talking

Johnny Eugene Oliphant has been charged with murder for the December 2016 shooting of his wife, Gina. Johnny is accused of shooting Gina in the head during a fight that occurred after he mixed sleeping pills and alcohol. While on the line with a 911 operator after Gina was shot, Johnny reportedly said, “I guess I won that one.”

Johnny is currently out on bond and awaiting trial, but now he has another case pending against him. Johnny and Gina’s youngest son, Dylan, has sued his father for the wrongful death of his mother. Referring to his late mother as his “best friend,” the plaintiff asserts “her loss has wreaked absolute havoc in his life.” He is seeking unspecified monetary damages to compensate him for his financial losses, including an expected inheritance, along with mental anguish and emotional pain and suffering.

Who Can Sue?

This case is getting a lot of attention because it is such a shocking story, but it also has a lot of people asking us “who can sue for wrongful death?

Texas law allows spouses, children of any age, and the parents of a deceased person to file a wrongful death lawsuits. Grandparents and siblings of a deceased person cannot file this kind of lawsuit.

All of the eligible plaintiffs may band together and sue the defendant as a group, or one family member can take the lead.

If no suit is filed within three months of the date of the death, the executor of the deceased person’s estate may file a suit instead. However, the surviving family members can ask that such a suit be dismissed.

People have been wondering how old Gina Oliphant’s son Dylan is since he is the one bringing a wrongful death suit, but that does not matter under the current law.

Who Can Be Sued?

People have also been shocked that a son is able to sue his own father.

In order to properly explain who can be sued for wrongful death, it is helpful to go over what a wrongful death lawsuit actually is.

A wrongful death suit is a personal injury lawsuit that is filed against someone whose “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” has caused the death of another.

The key to determining who can be sued for wrongful death is to look at the above definition and see if it applies given the circumstances of someone’s death. There is nothing in the law that says family members are not allowed to sue one another for wrongful death.

However, since every case is different, it can be hard to say if someone’s death was wrongful. That’s why wrongful death cases are tried in front of a jury.  

If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, and are considering bringing a lawsuit against those you believe are responsible, please consider contacting our office. We can help you evaluate your case and answer any questions you have free of charge. We represent our personal injury and wrongful death clients on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we recover compensation on your behalf.