Losing a loved one is a heartbreaking experience that leaves surviving family members feeling lost and overwhelmed. When that loss results from the careless or wrongful actions of another, it’s even more challenging and complex to make peace with the loss.
Wrongful death claims arise when a person’s death is caused by another person’s negligence or wrongful act. These lawsuits provide financial compensation for the deceased’s surviving family members.
If you lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, a Texas wrongful death lawyer at DFW Injury Lawyers can help you seek damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.
- A wrongful death refers to a death caused by another party’s negligence or recklessness.
- In Texas, the surviving children, spouse, or parents of a wrongful death victim may be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault party.
- A qualified Texas wrongful death lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure your voice is heard as you pursue justice.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of another party’s negligence, intentional acts, or wrongful conduct. The Texas Wrongful Death Act, found in Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, governs these cases. It allows the surviving family members of the deceased to seek compensation for their losses from the responsible party.
Under the Texas Wrongful Death Act, certain family members, such as spouses, children, and parents, may potentially file a wrongful death lawsuit. This form of injury lawsuit seeks damages for the financial and emotional losses suffered by the surviving family members. This can include compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages, loss of companionship, and more.
Under the Texas Wrongful Death Act, certain family members, such as spouses, children, and parents, may potentially file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Causes of Wrongful Deaths in Texas
Losing a loved one is a devastating experience, especially when the death was preventable.
Some of the most common causes of wrongful death accidents in Texas include:
Truck, Motorcycle, or Car Accidents
Reckless or negligent driving frequently contributes to fatal motor vehicle accidents. Whether caused by a distracted driver, speeding, or driving under the influence, these incidents often result in devastating consequences for the victim and their loved ones.
In some cases, negligence or inadequate safety measures in the workplace can lead to fatal accidents, including slip and fall accidents, construction accidents, and machinery malfunctions, among others. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 533 people died in a Texas workplace accident in 2021.
Premises Liability Incidents
Property owners must maintain a safe environment for visitors. If someone dies because of unsafe conditions on someone else’s property (like a slip and fall or inadequate security), the deceased’s surviving family may pursue a wrongful death claim.
Defective products, such as faulty machinery or malfunctioning medical devices, may cause fatal accidents. When manufacturers, distributors, or retailers fail to ensure the safety of their products, they may be liable for the resulting deaths.
Nursing Home Neglect
Unfortunately, elderly residents in nursing homes may experience neglect and abuse. Negligent acts such as medication errors, inadequate supervision, and not providing proper medical care may result in fatal injuries or medical complications.
Poor delivery practices during childbirth can cause devastating injuries or even the death of the baby or mother. Negligent actions by healthcare providers during prenatal care, labor, or delivery may result in a wrongful death case.
Fires quickly escalate into deadly disasters, often resulting in wrongful deaths. Negligence in fire prevention measures, lack of proper safety protocols, and not providing sufficient fire exits and alarms may contribute to these fatal incidents.
Who May Be Liable for a Wrongful Death Case in Texas?
In a wrongful death case in Texas, several parties may be liable for someone’s death, including individuals, institutions, or a combination of both.
Examples of potentially liable parties in Texas wrongful death cases may include an at-fault driver in a car accident, a contractor in a workplace accident, the property owner in a premises liability incident, the manufacturer of a defective product, the nursing home in a case of neglect, or the medical professionals in a birth injury.
A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney can help determine the parties that may be held liable in your case.
Difference Between a Wrongful Death and Homicide
Wrongful deaths and homicide may sound similar, but these two legal concepts have distinct differences. Wrongful deaths refer to civil cases, where the family of the deceased seeks financial compensation for their losses. In a wrongful death case, the burden of proof is typically lower, requiring a “preponderance of the evidence.”
Conversely, homicide is a criminal case brought by the state for the purpose of punishing the defendant. Homicide focuses on proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is responsible for the death.
While both types of cases involve the death of an individual, they differ in terms of the legal process and the desired outcomes. The best lawyers for wrongful death cases should be able to explain the differences simply regarding your unique case.
How Is a Survival Claim Different From a Wrongful Death Claim?
A survival claim differs from a wrongful death claim in that it focuses on the damages that the decedent could have recovered if they were still alive.
The survival claim allows the estate of the deceased to pursue compensation for the pain, suffering, medical expenses, and other damages the decedent endured before their death.
On the other hand, in a wrongful death claim, the deceased’s surviving family members seek damages for their own losses. Such losses may include financial support, companionship, and emotional distress.
The legal muscle you need to win
How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work?
When considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, first speak with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. A qualified Texas wrongful death lawyer can guide you through the legal process and handle your case with care.
Typically, the plaintiff files the lawsuit in the court with jurisdiction over the case. This is likely the county where the incident occurred or where the defendant resides.
A settlement may be possible through negotiations with the responsible party or their insurance company. In a settlement, the defendant offers compensation in exchange for relinquishing any future claims. If negotiations do not result in a settlement, the case typically proceeds to court.
During the litigation process, both sides gather evidence, call on witnesses to testify, and present their arguments. Your attorney’s job is to build a strong case on your behalf that proves the other party’s liability clearly and convincingly. If successful, the court or jury determines the amount of compensation awarded.
What Are the Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?
Knowing the statute of limitations is crucial when filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. Typically, there is a two-year deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, starting from the date of the individual’s passing. However, certain circumstances may extend the two-year deadline for filing a wrongful death case. These could include cases with an unknown defendant or when the next of kin has a mental or physical condition impeding them from filing within the standard timeframe.
Who Can Sue for a Wrongful Death in Texas?
In Texas, only close family members can sue for wrongful death. Typically, the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In Texas, there is typically a two-year deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, starting from the date of the individual’s passing. However, some exceptions do exist.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a wrongful death lawsuit, Texas wrongful death beneficiaries may pursue multiple forms of compensation for the financial, emotional, and personal losses suffered because of the wrongful death.
Types of damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit often include:
Economic damages cover the financial losses experienced by the family members because of the wrongful death. These damages might include compensation for lost wages, both past and future, the deceased would have earned for the family had they lived.
Funeral costs may also qualify as economic damages if they were paid by the family. Additionally, economic damages account for the loss of inheritance and any past or future household monetary assistance that would have been provided by the deceased.
Non-economic damages focus on the emotional toll and intangible losses endured by the family members. Non-economic damages include the loss of companionship, both romantic and non-romantic, the deceased would have provided, as well as pain and suffering.
These damages recognize the significant impact the loss of a loved one has on the emotional well-being and quality of life of the beneficiaries.
Punitive damages punish the responsible party for their wrongful actions and deter similar conduct in the future. In Texas, punitive damages fall under the category of exemplary damages and must meet particular criteria for a punitive damages award.
Texas Wrongful Death Case Outcome Summary
The outcome and potential settlement for a wrongful death lawsuit varies depending on the details of the case. To maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation, work with a results-driven wrongful death lawyer near you who fights for your rights and pursues the full range of potential damages.
What Is the Texas Wrongful Death Damages Cap?
The Texas wrongful death damages cap varies depending on the manner of death. For medical malpractice cases, a cap of $250,000 per defendant and a maximum total of $500,000 exists. However, punitive damages are capped at $200,000, but only when economic damages aren’t awarded.
In some cases, punitive damages may cap at double the economic losses combined with an equal number of non-economic damages, not exceeding $750,000. Consult with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney for help understanding how the damages cap may apply in your specific case.
What Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Do?
The best Texas wrongful death lawyers play a crucial role in helping you navigate the legal process and fight for justice after the loss of a loved one.
Key tasks a wrongful death attorney handles on your behalf include:
- Connect With Resources in Local Community: Local wrongful death lawyers may be able to connect you with resources and support groups in your community that provide emotional support during this difficult time.
- Gather Evidence and Find/Interview Witnesses: Your lawyer will investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. Often, they’ll gather evidence and interview witnesses to build a strong case. This involves reviewing medical records, accident reports, and other relevant documentation that help prove liability.
- Prove Negligence: Your lawyer must prove negligence by the responsible party by gathering evidence and consulting with experts. Ultimately, they should present a strong case proving the defendant’s actions or lack of actions caused the wrongful death.
- File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Your lawyer can file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. They handle all the necessary paperwork, ensuring that everything is filed correctly and within the appropriate deadlines.
- Negotiate With Insurance: If the responsible party or their insurance company offers a settlement, your lawyer should expertly negotiate for fair compensation. Your lawyer protects your rights and advocates for your best interests throughout the negotiation process.
- Represent You in Court (if needed): If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, your lawyer can take your case to trial. Your wrongful death lawyer will stand by your side as your legal representative and fight for a favorable verdict. They will present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, argue on your behalf, and fight for a favorable outcome.
Texas Wrongful Death Cases: FAQs
How do you find lawyers that handle wrongful death cases?
When seeking justice and compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one, finding the right lawyer is crucial. Look for a specialized attorney well-versed in local wrongful death laws and regulations with a proven track record of success.
Look for nationally recognized wrongful death attorneys, such as DFW Injury Lawyers, who have a reputation for providing survivors with fierce representation. With the help of an experienced lawyer, you can navigate the complexities of the legal system and pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take?
The duration of a wrongful death lawsuit varies greatly depending on the complexity of the case, the cooperation of the parties involved, and the court’s schedule.
Some wrongful death cases are resolved through a settlement within months, while others require litigation and go on for years. Consult with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney who can provide a realistic timeline based on the details of your case.
How much does it cost to hire a wrongful death lawyer?
Wrongful death lawyers typically work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. With a contingency fee arrangement, individuals who may not have the financial resources to pursue a wrongful death case may still seek justice for their loved one’s passing.
The lawyer receives a percentage of the settlement or verdict amount. This arrangement alleviates any financial burden upfront, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.
Contact a Texas Wrongful Death Lawyer for Guidance
If you experienced the tragic loss of a loved one because of someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions, reach out to a skilled and compassionate wrongful death lawyer in Texas.
At DFW Injury Lawyers, we understand the immense emotional and legal challenges grieving families face. Our dedicated team fights for the justice and compensation you deserve while providing compassion and support during this difficult time.
Contact DFW Injury Lawyers today for a free legal consultation and learn how our dedicated Texas wrongful death lawyers can help your family recover the compensation you deserve.