When a person suffers injuries or illness due to another person’s or party’s negligence, the injured party can sue the negligent party in a personal injury lawsuit to secure compensation for his or her damages. However, if the victim dies from the negligent party’s actions, the victim’s family will need to file a wrongful death claim to pursue damages against the negligent party. Each state has unique laws concerning wrongful death claims, and the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Fielding Law can help you answer important questions to move forward with your claim and work fast to get you the results you need.
Texas state law defines a “wrongful death” as any death resulting from negligence, carelessness, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous behavior. Generally, the same things that may lead to a personal injury claim can lead to a wrongful death claim if the victim perishes from his or her injuries. For example, if a person suffers severe injuries in a car accident due to a speeding driver, the victim would file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If the victim dies from his or her injuries, then a family member or personal representative would file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver instead.
Wrongful death claims are very similar to personal injury claims, in that both types of civil action revolve around the concept of negligence. Plaintiffs in wrongful death claims can secure many of the same types of compensation as plaintiffs in personal injury cases, in addition to other types of compensation for the surviving family.
Texas allows a surviving spouse, parent, or child of a wrongfully deceased person to file a wrongful death claim. If no such kin files a wrongful death claim within three months of the death, then a personal representative of the deceased’s estate may pursue a claim instead. However, they may only do so if a surviving member of the family does not explicitly request that they do not file a claim. Adult children may file a wrongful death claim for the wrongful death of a parent, and an adopted child may pursue a wrongful death claim for the death of an adoptive parent. However, an adopted child may not pursue a wrongful death claim for the wrongful death of a biological parent. Adoptive parents may also file wrongful death claims for the negligent deaths of adopted children. Texas law does not allow siblings to file wrongful death claims.
When the victim in a wrongful death case did not die immediately from his or her injuries, the estate may pursue a survival action for the damages the deceased experienced immediately preceding his or her death. For example, if a person dies immediately in a car accident, the family would file a wrongful death claim. If the person suffered extreme injuries but did not perish immediately, then the estate could pursue a survival action for the damages incurred between the accident and the victim’s death. The damages in a survival action typically reflect the compensation the deceased would have likely pursued for his or her damages had he or she survived.
Texas law allows certain individuals to collect compensation on behalf of a decedent. These wrongful death claims help surviving family members gain compensation for their material and intangible losses resulting from a loved one’s untimely death. Texas also imposes a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. This means a claimant has two years beginning on the date of the death in question to file such a claim.
Proving a wrongful death claim requires proof of four essential elements:
Establishing the four elements of a wrongful death case requires the assistance of an attorney. It demands strong and compelling evidence through eyewitness and expert testimony. Establishing damages in a wrongful death case, for example, is a highly complex process. It often requires talking to actuaries and economists to determine not only immediate costs associated with wrongful death, but also the projected amount of losses the surviving family members are expected to suffer as the result of the victim’s death. Even things like child care, laundry, and transportation go into calculating economic damages.
An attorney can help by demanding fair and full compensation for the tangible and intangible losses that a family experienced in light of a wrongful death. He or she will establish the four elements inherent in a wrongful death case and calculate the associated damages. He or she will prove to be an invaluable partner during the process and demand maximum compensation in light of a loved one’s untimely death. If you lost a loved one and think that someone else may be legally responsible, contact us and schedule a free initial consultation.
Each state outlines the damages recoverable through wrongful death claims. In Texas, a claimant may pursue compensation for lost earning capacity, including lost future earnings the decedent would have reasonably expected to earn had he or she survived. A wrongful death claim may also pursue compensation for lost value of household and personal services, loss of affection and consortium, lost inheritance (if the deceased’s retirement accounts and savings accounts lose any value due to the death), and the mental anguish the surviving family experienced because of the wrongful death.
Plaintiffs in wrongful death claims can secure various types of compensation, including:
An untimely death is always tragic, and surviving family members need reliable legal counsel to handle their wrongful death claims. The team at Fielding Law has experience handling complex wrongful death claims. If you’ve experienced an unexpected death in the family due to negligence in Texas, reach out to a personal injury attorney in Dallas at Fielding Law to schedule a free consultation. We will let you know what you and your family can rightfully demand through a detailed claim assessment.