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The Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process In Texas

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Texas Wrongful Death Statute

In Texas, there is a law that defines wrongful death as any action that causes the death of a person due to negligence, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. This type of case is classified as a civil action. Examples of situations that could lead to a wrongful death claim in Texas include car accidents, drunk driving incidents, murder, assault and battery, manslaughter, and negligence. It’s worth noting that wrongful death lawsuits in Texas have a two-year statute of limitations, which means that a person has to file a claim within two years from the date of the individual’s death. However, there are some exceptions to this rule:

  • A minor child is a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed for wrongful death.
  • The named defendants’ negligence was not discovered within the two-year timeframe.
  • The plaintiff was unable to file within the 2-year period due to a mental or physical condition.
  • Fraud.

What Situations Give Rise To Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

In Texas, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed based on the following circumstances:

  1. Car accidents and other types of motor vehicle accidents can be deadly, as evidenced by the nearly 3,900 deaths in traffic accidents in Texas in 2020 reported by the Texas Department of Transportation. If a surviving family member can prove that the other party involved in the accident was negligent, they may be able to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
  2. Although Texas law mandates that employers provide a safe work environment without any hazards, numerous Texans still die each year due to workplace accidents and occupational diseases. In fact, the Texas Department of Insurance has reported that over 600 people have suffered fatal occupational injuries in the state.
  3. Medical negligence is a serious issue. A report by Public Citizen reveals that in Texas, medical errors that could have been avoided cause anywhere from 3,260 to 7,261 deaths annually. To file a lawsuit for medical malpractice, relatives of the deceased must demonstrate that the healthcare provider in question did not adhere to the established standards of care.
  4. Product liability is a major concern as there are numerous flawed products on the market that could potentially result in fatalities. In the event that an individual passes away due to the use of a faulty automobile, plaything, or medication, it is probable that a lawsuit will be filed for wrongful death.

If you think that you and other family members who have survived have a right to be compensated after the passing of your loved one, you can consult with our wrongful death lawyer at Wrongful Death Lawyers Of Texas to explore the various legal alternatives available to you.

Who Is Eligible To File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Texas?

Only certain family members of a deceased person are eligible to receive compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. The state’s wrongful death statutes specify that only the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased are entitled to damages. If the eligible family members do not file a wrongful death lawsuit within 90 days of the date of the deceased’s passing, the personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate may file the claim instead. It’s worth noting that, unlike in other states, surviving siblings are not permitted to seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas.

Steps In A Wrongful Death Suit

Below are the fundamental stages involved in pursuing a wrongful death claim in Texas:

  • Talk To A Lawyer

The intricate regulations concerning wrongful death claims generally necessitate the assistance of a wrongful death attorney. It’s best to initiate the process promptly to avoid being constrained by time limitations outlined in the statute of limitations. According to Texas law, the surviving family or the estate of the deceased has a two-year period from the date of the deceased’s passing to file a lawsuit. Failing to bring a claim in time could result in a forfeiture of your right to receive compensation for your loss.

  • Obtain A Death Certificate

Prior to commencing the wrongful death claims process, it is necessary to obtain a death certificate that verifies the occurrence and reason behind the deceased’s passing. You can acquire this certificate by visiting the county clerk’s office in the county where the deceased person passed away or by submitting an online request to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

  • Determine Whether The Deceased Left A Will

If your relative left behind a will, it is probable that the executor or personal representative of the estate will be specified in it. This designated individual can initiate a wrongful death claim, survival action, or both on behalf of the deceased and their family. In the absence of a will, the courts will designate a personal representative for the deceased’s estate.

  • Investigate The Deceased’s Death

To obtain compensation, it will be necessary to demonstrate the defendant’s negligence in your claim. Your lawyer can assist you in gathering compelling evidence, such as medical records, accident reports, eyewitness statements, and photographs from the accident site. The more evidence you can provide, the more robust your case will be, thereby increasing your likelihood of receiving full compensation.

  • Identify The Eligible Survivors

Only particular family members and the executor of the decedent’s estate are authorized to initiate wrongful death claims. These individuals must be identified and informed before moving forward with any wrongful death claim. Survival actions are initiated by the executor of the deceased person’s estate, who may or may not be one of the eligible family members entitled to receive compensation.

  • Document The Losses Suffered By The Deceased And Their Family

In order to seek the highest possible amount of compensation through a wrongful death claim, the attorney and surviving family members of the deceased will have to itemize all the damages they have endured as a result of the untimely death.

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What Exactly Is A Wrongful Death Case?

In summary, there are only three categories of family members authorized to file a wrongful death lawsuit when a relative passes away. However, what does a wrongful death lawsuit entail? Below are three distinct aspects of wrongful death claims that you should know.

The Wrongful Death Claim Is Yours

Unless in specific cases, in a wrongful death claim, you are not technically making a claim on behalf of the deceased person. A wrongful death lawsuit is centered on the losses you personally sustained, not what your loved one lost by dying prematurely. (Later in the text, we will discuss the “survival claim,” which is filed on behalf of your loved one.)

Under a wrongful death claim, you are permitted to sue for certain types of losses, which we have described below. These are known as compensatory damages, which are the losses that Texas law allows you to be compensated for.

  • Financial losses
  • Loss of the deceased’s earning capacity, which pertains to what they would have earned based on their education, age, and work history
  • Expenses related to psychological treatment or therapy
  • Loss of services
  • Loss of parental services
  • Loss of child services
  • Loss of spousal services
  • Loss of advice and guidance. Typically, parents, spouses, and children offer assistance around the house, childcare, and guidance, which is taken away due to wrongful death.
  • Funeral expenses. The expenses incurred for laying the loved one to rest can be recovered through a lawsuit but only if they have been paid for by the family. If the decedent’s estate paid for the funeral, the situation is different.
  • Mental distress, which is the emotional pain caused by losing your loved one.
  • Loss of companionship and society. This refers to the loss of time and enjoyment you would have shared with your loved one.
  • Loss of inheritance. This is the amount that a beneficiary of a will or estate claim would likely have received.
  • Punitive damages.

Your Wrongful Death Claim Piggybacks The Decedent’s Personal Injury Case:

It can be somewhat confusing, but although the damages in your wrongful death lawsuit are solely based on your losses, the means by which you sue the defendant is through the underlying personal injury right to sue. For instance:

  • If your loved one was killed in a car accident, you would file a wrongful death claim against the defendant, and all the essential components of the case would be the same as they would be in a car accident personal injury case.
  • If your loved one died in a work-related accident, you would file a wrongful death claim against the employer, and all the underlying elements of the case would be the same as they would be in a work injury case.
  • If your loved one died due to a doctor’s negligence (referred to as “medical malpractice”), you would file a wrongful death claim against the doctor or hospital, and all the essential elements of the case would be the same as they would be in a regular medical malpractice personal injury case.

In legal terms, a wrongful death claim is referred to as a “derivative claim,” indicating that the family’s right to sue for their losses is derived from the actual victim’s underlying personal injury claim. However, it’s much clearer to state that a wrongful death lawsuit is based on the personal injury claim that the decedent would have had the right to file if they were injured instead of killed.

Why Sue For Money After the Death Of A Loved One In Texas?

When loved ones are lost, the top priorities for those affected are finding out what happened and preventing similar tragedies from occurring in the future. Although news reports often criticize large settlements for minor injuries, the fact remains that those left behind by the victim have their lives forever changed. So why pursue financial compensation in a wrongful death claim if the victim can no longer benefit? There are two main reasons: justice and deterrence.

In the case of a wrongful death claim, it would be unjust to allow the perpetrator to escape payment simply because the victim is no longer around to pursue the claim. We have an innate sense of justice that demands that the perpetrator be held accountable. Although we cannot bring the victim back to life, we can pursue financial compensation as a means of righting the scales of justice.

Financial compensation can also create incentives for individuals and companies to avoid similar tragedies in the future. When perpetrators are made to pay, it serves as a warning to others not to make the same mistakes. This is especially true for businesses, which often employ lawyers to help them avoid potential legal liabilities. When victims do not litigate cases, businesses may not be aware of the need to change dangerous practices.

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We Pursue Compensation In Cases Of Wrongful Death Because It’s Necessary

Losing a loved one to an early death not only has an emotional impact but also a financial one. The loss of income, inheritance, household services, and other financial contributions can create a significant burden on those left behind. The compensation received in wrongful death cases is not meant to make anyone rich, but to replace the finances that were wrongfully taken.

It is important to receive this compensation as you rely on the financial contributions of your loved one to maintain a normal life. The money is necessary for basic needs such as groceries, mortgage payments, school fees, and other living expenses. In addition, victims often incur significant financial losses due to missed work, travel expenses for funeral attendance, and counseling.

The money that was taken from you rightfully belonged to you, and you deserve to have it back. It was intended to be used for your needs and at your discretion, and you should not have to bear the burden of replacing it on your own.

How Insurance Impacts Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuits

When it comes to wrongful death cases, it’s important to consider the role of insurance. In many cases, the person responsible for the death may not have the financial means to cover the costs, which is where insurance comes in. However, insurance companies are ultimately driven by profit and will try to avoid paying out as much as possible. It’s a mistake to assume that an insurance company will automatically pay out once a claim is made. In fact, insurance adjusters will often try to get you to say or sign things that can hurt your case, and it’s important to have a lawyer to help you navigate the process. To ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve, it’s important to be cautious and avoid speaking with insurance adjusters, giving recorded statements without a lawyer present, signing anything without a lawyer’s review, and settling for less than what you deserve. The goal is to build a strong case that will make the insurance company fear a larger payout at trial and lead them to offer a fair settlement.

Concerns About Evidence In Texas Wrongful Death Claims

As previously discussed, in order to make a successful wrongful death claim, the family of the deceased must prove not only their losses, but also that their loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence. This requires a substantial amount of evidence, which can vary depending on the specifics of the case. However, one universal truth is that evidence tends to disappear over time. Waiting too long to file a lawsuit gives the defendant an opportunity to hide or lose evidence, and memories of witnesses can fade or they may become impossible to locate. It is never wise to rely on the statute of limitations as a guide, as valuable evidence such as emails, text messages, or surveillance videos can be the key to multimillion-dollar cases. Once this evidence is lost or destroyed, it cannot be recovered.

Act Now

It’s important to note that in Texas, all wrongful death lawsuits have a statute of limitations of two years. If you suspect that your loved one’s death was the result of negligence, it’s crucial to take action and contact the Wrongful Death Lawyers of Texas as soon as possible. Our team has the expertise, empathy, and commitment to preventing your family from enduring any further pain and suffering.

To get started, call Wrongful Death Lawyers Of Texas at (888) 294-2981 to schedule your free case evaluation.

The Time to Act is Now 


Act now for a free consultation from our top-rated legal  team to discuss any rights or compensation that you may be entitled.

We will fight to get the maximum compensation owed to you for your injuries and losses.

Complete The Form Or Call – (888) 294-2981

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