Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Texas
When a wrongful death occurs, the family of the deceased is usually entitled to financial compensation. However, it is essential to remember that the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit is different in almost every state.
Wrongful Deaths in Texas
Most states have their own laws that define what a wrongful death is, and Texas is no different. Texas defines wrongful death as the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” that directly leads to a person’s death. Wrongful deaths are also not criminal cases. A wrongful death lawsuit would take place in a civil court. However, criminal acts such as murder, drunk driving, assault, etc., can still cause wrongful death.
Texas also has a statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits. The whole area of limitation periods and notice requirements relating to suits is complex and constantly changing. Generally, a person has two years after the death date to file a wrongful death claim in Texas. However, there are a few exceptions to this statute:
- The victim of the wrongful death was a minor
- The negligence of the defendants was not known during that two-year period.
- A mental or physical impairment of the plaintiff prevented them from filing their claim within the two-year statute.
- In medical malpractice, the two-year statute of limitations has been strictly construed by the courts in Texas, and there is a tendency by the courts to hold the statute of limitations to within two years from the date of negligent conduct without extending it for subsequent medical treatment.
- If the decedent could not maintain an action in his or her own right immediately prior to death… then no wrongful death action ever accrued.
Who Can File a Texas Wrongful Death Claim?
In Texas, wrongful death claims can be filed by certain members of the deceased’s family. This includes spouses, children, and parents.
However, it is essential to remember that siblings may not file a wrongful death claim in Texas. It is also important to remember that adopted children or parents may also file wrongful death claims if adoption has been fully and legally completed. Personal representatives of the deceased’s estate may also file claims.
Wrongful Death Damages
The function of damages in a wrongful death claimed is to compensate the family members for their loss. The damages fall into two categories.
- Pecuniary loss:
- “Pecuniary loss” means the loss of the care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, and reasonable contributions of a pecuniary value;
- Loss of companionship and society.
- “Loss of companionship and society” means the loss of the positive benefits flowing from the love, comfort, companionship, and society;
- Mental anguish.
- “Mental anguish” means the emotional pain, torment, and suffering experienced by the family member because of the death of their loved one;
- Loss of inheritance.
- “Loss of inheritance” means the loss of the present value of the assets that the deceased, in reasonable probability, would have added to the estate and left at natural death.
The number one thing that must be proven in a wrongful death lawsuit is negligence. To prove negligence, these four conditions must be met:
- A legal duty was owed
- That legal duty was breached
- The breach of duty was foreseeable to cause injury producing event
- The injury-producing event resulted in injury and death.
For example, truck drivers have a legal duty to get their vehicles inspected. If they do not, then they are breaching that duty. Then, they killed a driver when their brakes went out, and they rear-ended a small car. The monetary damages that resulted from their breach of duty would then be used to prove their negligence.
There is no greater loss than the tragedy of death in a family. The attorneys at Reynolds & Reynolds Law Firm can evaluate your rights to possible damages. If you need a wrongful death attorney in the Frisco, TX area, call Reynolds & Reynolds Law Firm at 214-891-6606 to schedule a consultation appointment today. You pay absolutely nothing unless we win compensation for your loss.