When someone has died as a result of the negligence of another person, it may be possible to file a Texas wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims compensate the surviving loved ones of the deceased for the loss they have endured. Though no amount of money ever replaces an adored family member, compensation may help with the expenses survivors face after an unexpected death.
Who Has the Right to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Only certain individuals are able to file a wrongful death claim in Texas. Generally, the parents, children, or spouse of the deceased file wrongful death claims.
Sometimes, these individuals may file one lawsuit as a group, or only one individual may pursue a claim. An experienced Texas wrongful death attorney will be able to advise surviving loved ones as to how the claim should be filed.
The personal representative of the deceased’s estate may also file a wrongful death lawsuit if the parents, children, or spouse of the deceased do not file within three months of the death. Siblings, however, are barred from filing wrongful death claims in Texas.
Common Examples of Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death claim may be possible in a variety of cases. Wrongful death claims are frequently filed after:
- Motor vehicle accidents, such as pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, and bicycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Slips and falls
- Defective product claims
- On-the-job injuries
Essentially, in most cases where negligence has caused the death of someone else, a wrongful death action is possible.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
There are several elements that must be proven for a claimant to prevail in a wrongful death claim.
First, the claimants must show that the at-fault party had a duty to the deceased victim. For example, if the death arose out of a motor vehicle accident, the duty would be the duty to operate a vehicle in a manner that is safe and reasonable under the circumstances.
Next, it must be shown that the at-fault party breached the duty of care. In the above example of a motor vehicle accident, texting while driving would be an example of breaching the duty of care.
Finally, the claimant must prove that the at-fault party’s negligence caused the death, and that the death resulted in damages.
What Types of Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The amount of damages available in a wrongful death action varies depending on the facts of the case, but in general, the following damages may be claimed:
- The estimated value of the deceased’s future earnings
- The loss of the relationship with the deceased
- The lost maintenance and support of the deceased
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of inheritance
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Other types of damages may also be available.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In all types of legal claims, there are specific deadlines that limit how long claimants have to file lawsuits. These deadlines are known as the statutes of limitations. For wrongful death claims in Texas, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of death.
Wrongful Death Claims and Criminal Charges
A wrongful death claim is a type of civil claim. In civil claims, the claimant files an action for monetary damages against the defendant. However, with criminal charges, the state or federal government files a claim against the defendant. If convicted of criminal charges, the defendant may face jail time, fines, and other types of punishment.
Even if criminal charges have not been filed against the party accused of causing the death, a civil wrongful death claim may be pursued. Civil and criminal claims operate independently of each other, though of course common evidence may be used to pursue both types of cases.
If You Have Lost a Loved One, Contact Brooker Law, PLLC Today
At Brooker Law, PLLC, we know that the unexpected loss of a loved one is devastating for everyone involved. Our compassionate, experienced attorneys help our wrongful death clients with every step of these difficult claims. To schedule an appointment with our Dallas firm, contact or call (214) 217-0277 today.