Wrongful Death

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If you or a loved one has been the victim of wrongful death in Texas, you should consider working with a wrongful death lawyer to investigate your claim. Our skilled and knowledgeable Texas wrongful death attorneys can file your claim and help you to recover financially from your life-altering personal injury. A wrongful death claim arises when the survivors of a person who has died seek to recover compensation for the financial losses they have suffered and will continue to suffer as a result of the death. An experienced TX wrongful death lawyer can help you and your family recover those damages. 

How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in TX

Wrongful death claims in Texas must generally be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. There are some very limited exceptions to these time limits (known as a statute of limitations) but you should aim to work with a wrongful death attorney well within the two-year period since the exceptions to the two-year requirement are complex and narrow. 

In order to establish a wrongful death claim in Texas, you and your wrongful death attorney need to show that:

  • An injury caused a person’s death or a baby’s failure to be born alive
  • The injury was caused by another’s
    • Wrongful act
    • Neglect
    • Carelessness
    • Lack of skill
    • Default
  • The deceased person would have been entitled to file a personal injury suit under the same set of facts had he or she not died or been born alive

Essentially, a wrongful death claim is a personal injury negligence claim being filed on behalf of the survivors of the victim of a person injury. As with any TX negligence claim, you will have to establish that:

  • The defendant owed the decedent a duty of care (the nature of the duty depends on what caused the death)
  • The defendant breached that duty as a result of the defendant’s negligent or wrongful act
  • The failure to meet the duty was the direct cause of the death
  • The decedent’s family have suffered compensable damages as a result of the negligent or wrongful act

Who can file a claim?

A case may be brought by the surviving spouse, parents, or children, but if they have not filed within three months, the executor or personal representative of the state may file. The executor may not file if all of the eligible family members expressly request that a suit not be filed. If your wrongful death law firm successfully prosecutes your case, you will receive money damages, usually paid by the at-fault party’s insurance company. 

You may not actually need to go to court. Often experienced wrongful death lawyers will be able to negotiate a settlement of your claim before any litigation becomes necessary. 

What documents are required?

In order to recover damages, you must be able to demonstrate financial loss arising from the wrongful death. Your wrongful death law firm can help you evaluate and analyze your case to determine how to pursue your claim. The types of damage you can recover and the evidence and/or documents needed to support them include:

Expenses resulting from the death – expenses such as medical expenses between the accident or injury and time of death, pain and suffering for the deceased during that same time, lost wages, and funeral and burial expenses.

Lost earning capacity – must show with pay stubs or tax returns or similar documents the decedent’s prior earnings. Documents demonstrating prior earnings can be used, along with evidence of typical career path in the decedent’s occupation, to show what likely future income would have been.

Loss of care, maintenance, support, counsel, etc., decedent would have provided to family members – evidence of the relationship between the decedent and the family members, including photos, letters, email, testimony.

Loss of love, companionship, comfort, and society – similar to the preceding item, evidence of the relationship between the decedent and the family members, including photos, letters, email, testimony.

Loss of potential inheritance – loss of what decedent would have been likely to save and leave for heirs, documents demonstrating savings, investments, etc. Account statements from investment accounts, bank accounts, and retirement accounts can demonstrate a decedent’s pattern of behavior and allow testimony predicting what future income might have been. 

Mental pain and anguish of survivors – this is what the survivors feel and suffer; emails, letters, photos, testimony can all be used to demonstrate the suffering.

Punitive or exemplary damages – rarely available, but if the death resulted from a willful act or omission or gross negligence may be available. The purpose is to punish the wrongdoer and deter future similar conduct, not compensate the victims, so no proof of specific loss must be provided. Texas caps exemplary damages at $200,000 or twice the amount of economic damages plus an equal amount of non-economic damages up to a maximum of $750,000.

Survival claims – Some of the damages listed above would be included in what is called a survival claim under Texas law. The survival statute allows recovery for personal injuries from which the victim was suffering at the time of his death. The recovery for those injuries is to be enforced by his heirs or personal representatives of his estate. Thus, damages such as lost wages, medical bills, property damage, funeral expenses, and the like are available under this statute and the recovery will be given as part of the deceased’s estate.

How can a wrongful death lawyer help you?

In order to recover for your life-changing loss, you will want to find the best wrongful death lawyer available to you. A Texas wrongful death attorney near you will meet with you for an initial case evaluation and consultation, usually at no cost to you. Following this initial discussion, your Texas wrongful death lawyer will be able to outline the nature of your case. An experienced TX wrongful death lawyer will know how best to present your case to obtain the best possible recovery for you. 

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