What is wrongful death in Texas?
Wrongful death in Texas is defined as a loss of life that occurs due to the wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default of another individual or entity. According to Title 4, Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a wrongful death claim is a civil action that can be brought forward when the negligent or intentional actions of a party result in the death of another person.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In Texas, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the surviving spouse, children (biological and adopted), and parents of the deceased. This includes ex-spouses if they were not legally divorced at the time of death, as well as separated or common-law spouses.
Adult children and adoptive parents also have the right to sue, but siblings cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit unless they are the executors of the estate and may file a survival action instead.
Can a sibling sue for wrongful death?
Siblings are generally not permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. However, if a sibling is the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate, they may file a survival action, which is separate from a wrongful death claim and seeks damages the deceased could have pursued if they had survived.
What are the elements of a wrongful death case?
A wrongful death case in Texas must establish four key elements:
- A duty of care existed between the defendant and the deceased.
- There was a breach of duty of care by the defendant.
- Causation must be proven, showing that the breach directly led to the fatal injuries.
- The plaintiff must demonstrate that they have suffered damages as a result of the death, which can include financial and emotional losses.
How do you file a wrongful death lawsuit?
To file a wrongful death lawsuit, the following steps should be taken:
- Identify the at-fault parties responsible for the death.
- Ensure the lawsuit is filed within the statute of limitations, which is typically two years from the date of death in Texas.
- Complete the necessary documentation and legal procedures with the assistance of a qualified wrongful death attorney, such as those at Adley Law Firm.
How do you prove wrongful death?
Proving wrongful death involves establishing that the defendant had a duty of care towards the deceased, that they breached that duty, and that the breach directly caused the death.
Evidence may include police reports, photos, videos, eyewitness statements, expert testimony, and medical records.
How long does a wrongful death lawsuit take?
The duration of a wrongful death lawsuit varies depending on the complexity of the case but generally takes at least a year or more to resolve. Settlements can occur at different stages of the process, and some cases may be resolved without going to trial.
How much is a wrongful death lawsuit worth?
The value of a wrongful death lawsuit is determined on a case-by-case basis and includes consideration of the plaintiffs’ losses. This may encompass medical bills, funeral costs, loss of income, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
The age and earning capacity of the deceased, as well as the impact on surviving family members, are also factors.
Who pays in a wrongful death suit?
Typically, the insurance companies of the at-fault parties are responsible for paying the damages awarded in a wrongful death suit. However, if the responsible party does not have sufficient insurance coverage, they may be personally liable for any damages awarded by the court.
How are wrongful death settlements paid out?
Wrongful death settlements can be paid out in two primary ways: as a structured settlement or a lump-sum payment. A structured settlement distributes the compensation over time, providing a steady stream of income to the beneficiaries. A lump-sum payment, on the other hand, is a one-time payment of the entire settlement amount.
The terms of the settlement are negotiated between the plaintiffs and the defendants or their insurers, often with the guidance of a wrongful death attorney.
Are “survival” claims the same as a wrongful death claim?
No, “survival” claims are not the same as wrongful death claims. A survival action is a claim that the deceased could have filed for personal injuries had they survived. This type of claim allows the heirs or estate representatives to pursue compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages up to the time of death.
In contrast, a wrongful death claim is filed by the family members for their own losses due to the death, such as loss of companionship and support.
What compensation is available in a wrongful death claim in Texas?
In a Texas wrongful death claim, the compensation, or damages, available can be categorized as actual damages and exemplary damages. Actual damages may include financial losses, mental anguish, loss of companionship, and loss of inheritance.
Exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages, are awarded in cases of willful acts or gross negligence and are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.
How long does someone have to bring a wrongful death claim?
The statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful death claim in Texas is generally two years from the date of the deceased person’s injury or death. It is crucial to file the lawsuit within this time frame to preserve the right to seek compensation.
Will I be able to afford a lawyer to represent me on a wrongful death claim? How much will it cost?
Most personal injury attorneys, including those at Adley Law Firm, work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they only get paid if the client receives a settlement or award. The attorney’s fees are typically a percentage of the compensation received.
This arrangement allows families to pursue wrongful death claims without upfront legal fees, making it financially feasible to seek justice for their loved one’s death.
What are Exemplary Damages, and when are they available for Wrongful Death?
Exemplary damages in wrongful death cases are punitive damages meant to punish the negligent party for egregious behavior and to deter similar future conduct. They are available in cases of willful acts, omissions, or gross negligence that result in death. Exemplary damages are more challenging to secure but can significantly increase the overall compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you have further questions or need assistance with a wrongful death claim, please reach out to the compassionate and experienced attorneys at Adley Law Firm. Our dedicated team is here to help you navigate the legal process and fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.