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Student Suicide Results in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

This case was torture for the family, and ultimately ended in a wrongful death lawsuit.

This case involved the worst nightmare of any parent; a child committing suicide. However, this case had a further twist. The young man who took his own life was showing clear signs that he needed help, and no one at the university did anything about it. The man’s body was found on top of a campus building.

The parents in this case, shocked beyond belief and wanting to prevent what happened to their son from happening to anyone else’s child, filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The suit names the former dean of the university, the current dean and three school psychologists. It suggests they failed to help their son, when he plainly stated he wanted to die after a prior suicide attempt, just two weeks before his body was found. The suit was seeking $20 million in compensation.

The evidence included the assessments of three psychologists, who evidently had diverse opinions about the young man’s state of mind. One commented the young man displayed a normal non-depressed, reasonably positive mood. Another said he was showing signs of chronic depression, but it was not as bad as major depression. Both these assessments were made in the two weeks leading up to the young man’s death. Unfortunately, the university did not tell his parents, or have him evaluated any further. The man had told friends he was having trouble moving forward with his life after a breakup with his girlfriend.

Since the man’s death two years ago, and his family filing a wrongful death lawsuit, they have been working towards a settlement of some sort with the university rather than go to court. Many suits of this nature may be settled out of court, with the decision to move forward to litigation being held in reserve, until all other avenues have been explored. This is certainly an option a good Austin personal injury lawyer would discuss with a client in a similar situation.

It is not an easy decision to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and it often takes a long time before a case does go to court. This has to do with the complexities of filing such a suit. For instance, trying to determine the amount of compensation to seek in court is very difficult. Families may recover payment for the deceased’s medical bills and funeral and burial expenses. However, the survivors have been injured by the death of someone they loved, and this means, what would have happened in the future, needs to be taken into consideration. For this, and other reasons, hiring a skilled Austin personal injury lawyer will make this process a lot easier to handle.

In other words, damages may include, but are not limited to, an estimated sum dealing with wages the person who died would have earned, had they lived, and the pain and suffering the survivors are dealing with due to the death. Projections on the amount of money earned in the future by the deceased are usually done through expert testimony.

Waiting to file a wrongful death lawsuit is not advisable because in these kinds of lawsuits, there is a set timeframe for filing, which, if not met, means the claim is barred permanently. This time frame is set by state law and the clock starts ticking from the time of the death, in most cases. There are some states that stipulate the clock begins to run from the time the party was aware of or found out about the death. It’s important to know what the Statute of Limitations is in your state; a question you would need to ask your Austin personal injury lawyer.

Brooks Schuelke is an Austin personal injury attorney with Perlmutter & Schuelke PLLC. Contact an Austin injury lawyer at or (512) 476-4944.


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