We all know that nothing can replace the loss of a loved one. However, if your family feels that you or your loved one died needlessly, then filing a wrongful death lawsuit will lessen the financial burden and help in numerous ways.
Suppose you or a family member is injured due to the negligence or actions of another person, company, or defective product. In that case, you can file a personal injury lawsuit and recover damages. However, if the injury resulted in death, you must file a wrongful death claim to receive proper compensation.
A wrongful death claim is considered a civil tort that allows surviving family members to hold individuals, companies, government agencies and more responsible for intentional or unintentional actions that cause death to a family member. In most states, wrongful death claims are permitted, but the specific details, including who can file and how much compensation you can receive, may differ.
Who is at fault and proof of their negligence are two critical factors you and your experienced San Antonio wrongful death lawyer will have to prove.
In a Texas wrongful death case, you must prove that the death was the fault (either by part or in whole) of the other party and their carelessness, recklessness, or negligent actions.
For you to show fault and file a valid wrongful death claim, your lawyer will have to prove four things:
- Negligence – In wrongful death cases, we must prove the death of the plaintiff’s relative was caused either by part or whole by carelessness, recklessness, or the defendant’s negligent actions.
- Breach of Duty – To file a winning wrongful death claim, you must prove that the defendant owed a duty to the victim. For example, medical health professionals and doctors must maintain a person’s health.
- You must be able to show that the defendant’s duty existed and that this duty was breached due to negligent actions.
- Causation – In your lawsuit, you will also be required to prove how the negligence of the defendant caused the victim’s death.
- Damages – Usually, in a wrongful death case, your lawyer will prove that the victim’s death generated substantial and measurable damages, such as:
Undue medical expenses.
Burial costs & funeral expenses.
Loss of current and future income.
A loss of protection, guidance, inheritance, and companionship.
Pain and suffering of the victim and their family.
Filing, presenting, and winning a Texas wrongful death claim is a challenging legal task. It may include accident reports, medical bills, witnesses, etc. Your knowledgeable and experienced San Antonio wrongful death law firm will be invaluable in building your case around all the facts available.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
When a family member dies needlessly, the entire family suffers. For example, they no longer contribute to their career, friends lose confidants, and society at large misses the many ways the loved one would have contributed to it.
Every state has legal parameters regarding who can file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Some family members can sue, but others may be considered “too far removed” from the deceased.
In Texas, the Wrongful Death Act specifies that usually, only three categories of individuals can file claims:
- Spouses of the decedent.
- The decedents’ children.
- The decedents’ parents.
Unfortunately, unadopted stepchildren, siblings, same-sex partners, long-term boyfriends and girlfriends, grandparents, and anyone else commonly cannot file a claim.
Commonly the decedent’s spouse, children, and parents are referred to as “statutory beneficiaries,” meaning they are the only people legally able to file a wrongful death claim.
In specific cases, exceptions may be made, and if you need advice, consulting with a professional wrongful death law team will get you the legal answers that you require.
What Type of Losses Can I Sue For In a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Commonly in wrongful death lawsuits, you’re allowed to sue for certain specific losses. These are considered the “compensatory” damages or losses that Texas law says you can be compensated for.
Some examples are:
- Losses of monetary nature, such as:
Loss of the decedent’s earning capacity and what they would have made, given their education, age, and work history.
Expenses associated with psychological treatment or therapy.
- Loss of services, such as:
Loss of parental services
Loss of child services
Loss of spousal services
- Loss of advice and counsel to their children, spouse, parents, etc.
- Funeral expenses – The costs of laying the loved one to rest can usually be recovered.
- Mental anguish caused by the loss of your loved one.
- Loss of companionship, time, and enjoyment you would have had with your loved one.
- Loss of inheritance – The amount a beneficiary of a will or estate claim would have established.
- Punitive damages
What Is the “Statute of Limitations” For Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
The “statute of limitations” is a specific time you must file any legal action.
In a Texas wrongful death claim, the “statute of limitations” is two years from your loved one’s death date. This means that you must file your wrongful death lawsuit in Texas within two years after the death, and if you fail to do so, your case may be held invalid or simply dismissed by the court.
However, there are rare exceptions to this two-year timeframe that your lawyer can explain and assist you with.
Some of these exceptions include situations in which:
- The person suing is under 18 at the time of the death.
- The defendant’s negligence was unknown and could not be brought to light during the two years.
- The plaintiff of the wrongful death suit has mental or physical impairments.
- The defendant committed fraud.
This is an example of an area where your Texas wrongful death lawyer’s guidance and knowledge will be invaluable in determining whether your exception is legally valid and whether you still may allow you to obtain the compensation you deserve.
I Feel I Must File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit; How Should I Proceed?
Filing, presenting, and winning a Texas wrongful death lawsuit can be a challenging and daunting legal task. However, consulting with a qualified, empathetic, and experienced San Antonio wrongful death law firm will put you on the right legal path. Your lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case, assess the claims, determine what damages you are entitled to, and fight for your rights at every step.
It’s devastating for you and your family to deal with losing someone you love. Your lawyer will tirelessly provide you with the support and representation you need, deserve, and rightfully are entitled to.