Bystander Injury vs. Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Texas

When a loved one is killed in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, it can be devastating. Dealing with the loss can result in serious mental and emotional pain – regardless of whether or not you were physically involved or harmed in the accident. While nothing can bring your loved one back, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit for either bystander injury or wrongful death depending upon the circumstances. Here is what to know about each legal action, and how they compare and contrast, so that you can decide which one is right for you. 


The biggest difference between the two types of lawsuits hinges on the identity of the plaintiff. In a bystander injury case, you are the plaintiff and are seeking compensation for your own injuries. Put simply, in a bystander injury case you have been directly harmed by the actions of the defendant. Alternately, in a wrongful death lawsuit, you are not the plaintiff – the deceased is actually the plaintiff – and you are bringing suit on his or her behalf. Since they have died from the accident, they are unable to bring the lawsuit for their injuries so you are bringing it for them. 


In a bystander injury case, the defendant’s guilt is not what is at issue. What is at issue is whether their actions had an impact on you. You must be able to prove this. While you may not have been physically harmed in the accident, you must prove that you were still a victim of it. To prove that you have suffered mental and emotional injuries from the accident you will want to provide things such as mental health records, witness testimony, loss of job, decline of job performance, and more. 

In a wrongful death case, you are responsible for proving that the defendant was guilty of negligence. Therefore, you must provide evidence such as medical records, property damage, witness testimony, and the like. You must demonstrate that the defendant is guilty through a preponderance of the evidence. 


In a bystander injury suit, you must have been present for the accident; hence, the word “bystander.” You must have witnessed the death of someone else, which caused you harm. However, while you generally must have been present for the moment of death, there are exceptions for which you could still recover in a bystander injury case even if you were unaware of your loved one’s death but came across the body after. This depends upon the specific facts and circumstances of the case. 

In a wrongful death case, you didn’t need to have been present for your loved one’s death since they were and you are bringing the case on their behalf. 


In a bystander injury case, you can receive compensation for your direct injuries, such as those related to your mental and emotional injuries (e.g., your medical bills for mental health treatment or lost wages if your emotional issues have impacted your ability to work). You may also be entitled to pain and suffering.

Right to Sue

In a wrongful death suit, you can sue for damages related to the death of your loved ones. This may include things such as medical bills and funeral expenses as well as lost income to the deceased’s family. You may also receive compensation for any pain and suffering they experienced. Additionally, in a wrongful death suit, you may be entitled to some personal damages, such as the losses that you and the deceased’s family will now face, such as a loss of childcare or finances.

In a bystander injury lawsuit, those who can sue include spouses (including common-law marriages), children, parents, and siblings. In a wrongful death lawsuit, only spouses, children, and parents have the right to sue.

The Attorneys at Rochelle McCullough Help Those in Dallas Who Have Been Injured or Killed in an Accident

When you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident, you are often faced with handling the financial ramifications that accompany it. You should not be held responsible for someone else’s negligence. You may be entitled to compensation. Be sure to speak with a qualified Texas personal injury attorney as soon as possible. 

The lawyers at Rochelle McCullough help victims of accidents to get their lives and their livelihood, or that of their loved ones, back on track. We will fight for your rights. To schedule a consultation, contact us today.