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What Qualifies As A Wrongful Death Lawsuit In Texas?

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Texas Wrongful Death Act

If someone you care about has died as a result of someone else’s negligence, whether it be an individual or a corporation, you have the option of seeking justice and compensation by initiating a wrongful death lawsuit. As stated in Section 71.001 of the Texas Statutes, a plaintiff can bring a wrongful death lawsuit if the death could have been prevented and was caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of another party. Texas has a distinctive background in creating laws pertaining to wrongful death. It is critical to review the information provided and speak with an attorney immediately if you are planning to file a claim.

Texas’ Definition Of Wrongful Death

In accordance with Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a wrongful death lawsuit may be initiated by particular parties if a person’s death is a result of the wrongful act, carelessness, unskillfulness, neglect, or default of another person or corporation. This implies that a wrongful death claim can be filed if a loved one has passed away due to the negligence of others, such as a collision caused by drunk driving or distracted driving, a truck accident involving an 18-wheeler, medical malpractice by a hospital or doctor, a faulty product, an explosion, or any other type of error committed by an individual or a company. In Texas, only certain individuals are permitted to bring a wrongful death lawsuit under these circumstances.

Damages In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The state of Texas acknowledges the significant impact that a wrongful death can have, which is evident from the types of damages that can be claimed. Under Texas law, damages in wrongful death lawsuits are divided into three primary categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive.

  • Economic Damages

Economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are damages that are quantifiable and have a specific monetary value attached to them. Economic damages may comprise several expenses, such as funeral costs, medical treatment expenses for the deceased, loss of inheritance, loss of future earnings, and loss of retirement benefits. Each type of economic damage can be precisely calculated and identified. For instance, loss of future earnings can be estimated by multiplying the deceased person’s salary by the number of years they would have worked if they had survived.

  • Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages constitute a much broader group of expenses than economic damages, which are subjective and do not have a clearly defined monetary value. As a result, non-economic damages frequently become a contentious point of negotiation in civil lawsuits. Examples of non-economic damages include the physical pain and suffering experienced by the deceased person before death, emotional and mental distress suffered by loved ones, loss of companionship, care, and guidance, and loss of consortium. Non-economic damages can be difficult to quantify and thus may be subject to dispute. Nonetheless, an experienced wrongful death attorney can evaluate and present non-economic losses effectively as a significant part of your claim.

  • Punitive Damages

In some instances, Texas law allows for “exemplary damages” or punitive damages. Unlike economic and non-economic damages, exemplary damages are not intended to compensate a plaintiff. Rather, they are awarded to penalize a defendant for violating safety rules, regulations, and standards in an especially reprehensible way. They are also intended to discourage future individuals from behaving similarly. Exemplary damages are a relatively infrequent aspect of wrongful death claims.

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The Elements Of A Succesful Wrongful Death Claim

If someone you love has died because of someone else’s actions, you may want to seek justice in court and hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. In Texas, surviving family members can recover financial compensation for losses caused by wrongful death, but the process is not as simple as stating your belief that you deserve compensation. There are strict procedures and legal requirements that must be met in order to prove that another party is liable for the wrongful death. To prove wrongful death, certain legal elements must be demonstrated, such as showing that the death occurred due to someone else’s negligent acts and providing sufficient evidence to support your case. The burden of proof required is not beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather it must be shown that it is at least 51% likely that a wrongful death occurred. This burden of proof is known as the “preponderance of the evidence.” While legal terms can be confusing, a skilled wrongful death attorney can help you navigate the process and prove all the necessary elements of your case.

  • You Need Sufficient Proof Of Negligence

If your loved one has suffered a wrongful death due to negligence, you need to prove all the necessary legal elements of negligence. These include showing that the liable party had a duty of care towards the victim, that they breached this duty in some way, that this breach caused the accident and subsequent injuries that led to the death, and that this death resulted in losses to you and other claimants. The specific duties of care vary depending on the type of accident, but examples include safe driving, selling safe products, providing adequate medical care, and maintaining safe premises. Breaches of duty can occur in many ways, such as distracted driving, defective products, medical errors, and unsafe property conditions. Once you have established a breach of duty, you need to present evidence that this breach caused or contributed to your loved one’s injuries and death.

  • You Must Prove Intentional Harm

Not all wrongful death cases are caused by negligence; some are due to intentional violence. To prove an intentional act, specific elements must be established, including showing that the person intended to commit the act, made non-consensual contact with the victim (such as using a weapon or hitting them with a car), and that the contact caused fatal harm. Often, violent deaths result in criminal cases for homicide or manslaughter, which are separate from wrongful death cases. However, a knowledgeable attorney can use a criminal case to help with recovery for wrongful death.

  • Evidence Must Prove Damages

Once you have established that your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligent or wrongful act, you must then show that you have suffered damages as a result of your loss. However, it’s worth noting that California courts have consistently ruled that emotional distress damages are not recoverable in a wrongful death case. Nonetheless, in many instances, a person bringing a wrongful death claim may also bring a claim for negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress against the same party.

Common damages sought in wrongful death cases in California include expenses related to the decedent’s funeral and burial, loss of future income, loss of financial support, loss of household services, and loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, and moral support. Demonstrating these damages can be challenging and may necessitate significant expert analysis. For example, determining how much a person would have earned over the course of their career requires considering various factors, including life expectancy, the typical advancement trajectory for someone in that position, inflation, and their education, skills, and abilities.

Consequently, presenting evidence to demonstrate these damages during a settlement negotiation or trial typically necessitates significant evidence, and the assistance of a skilled attorney can be invaluable.

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Who Can File A Wrongful Death Suit In Texas?

The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Title 4, Chapter 71 sets out the framework for wrongful death cases in Texas. When an individual dies as a result of someone else’s negligent or careless act, certain family members may seek compensation by filing a claim against the responsible party. Possible defendants in a wrongful death case may include a driver, doctor, property owner, or business owner.

Under the current law, the legal surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased are eligible to initiate the claims process for compensation. If a family does not file a claim within three months of their loved one’s death, an estate representative may file on their behalf. However, determining eligibility for wrongful death suits is not always straightforward, as family structures can be complex.

In some states, adult children cannot seek compensation for a parent’s death, but in Texas, children of any age, including adoptive and biological children, may file a claim. However, adoptive children cannot claim recovery from biological parents if they qualify for recovery for their adoptive parents. On the other hand, siblings and other close relatives are not eligible to file a wrongful death claim under any circumstances.

Texas law does not recognize non-marital relationships for the purposes of wrongful death claims. While separated spouses can file a claim, significant others are not eligible. Blended families who have not formally adopted children cannot seek recovery for the death of a step-parent or step-child.

Filing A Texas Wrongful Death Claim

An individual or a group of eligible beneficiaries can initiate a wrongful death claim, but it must be done within two years from the date of death to qualify for damages under the law. After the claim is settled, the state will distribute damages among eligible beneficiaries. These individuals can recover compensation for various losses related to the deceased, such as loss of income capacity, love and companionship, inheritance, support and advice, and emotional pain and suffering. In some instances, juries may also award exemplary damages in cases involving willful violence or gross negligence.

Let Us Represent Your Family’s Interests

The value of a wrongful death lawsuit may seem difficult to determine, as it can be difficult to assign a monetary value to a loved one’s life. However, it is important to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions, as it can help your family maintain their financial stability, particularly if the deceased was the primary breadwinner. By winning a monetary judgment, your family can continue to achieve their financial goals and avoid financial hardship.

At Wrongful Death Lawyers Of Texas, we are dedicated to defending your right to seek compensation in a wrongful death case. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that our fees are only taken out of the final settlement in the case. 

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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