If you’re injured as a result of another person’s negligent or wrongful act, you can file a personal injury lawsuit and recover damages. But if a person is killed as a result of a negligent or wrongful act, surving family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim.
When a loved one dies unexpectedly, neither words nor deeds can heal the grief. Although it would be hard to deal with the pain, don’t let your loved one’s death go without justice. A wrongful death claim can help you in your pursuit of compensation.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death in Texas?
The state of Texas identifies a case as a wrongful death when:
- The cause of a person’s death is injury by someone else
- The injury was the outcome of a wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or misconduct by another person
- The injured person would have been qualified to file a personal injury lawsuit had they survived the accident or negligent behavior
Types of Compensation for a Wrongful Death Claim
Following the death of a loved one, a Texas wrongful death lawyer can help you receive compensation for:
- Lost support
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost care
- Mental anguish and pain
- Lost companionship
- Lost inheritance
In some cases, punitive demages are also a part of your Texas wrongful death lawsuit. This is true for cases with proof of carelessness or other grave offenses.
Texas’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Wrongful death cases in Texas are subject to a statute of limitations under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003(b). Unless one of the following exceptions applies, you have two years from the date of the death to file a wrongful death claim:
- The person filing the claim is a minor
- During those two years, there was no knowledge of the negligence
- You couldn’t file within the two-year window due to a physical or mental handicap
- Fraudulent activity
It is crucial to contact a lawyer as early as possible after a wrongful death. At the Buzbee Law Firm, our Texas wrongful death lawyers have expertise in similar claims. We will work quickly and diligently to seek the maximum compensation for you.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
Two years is the window provided by statute to file a claim. While this may sound like plenty of time, it takes more than a year to settle this type of claim. The longer you wait, the less time you have to negotiate a possible settlement offer.
A majority of personal injury and wrongful death claims are resolved with a settlement. It is both affordable and quicker than a trial. A Texas wrongful death attorney needs time to build a strong settlement case for you. But we won’t know the specifics of your case or how long it might take to settle until we learn more during your consultation.
Which Elements Should You Prove in a Wrongful Death Case?
The key elements that you must prove to make a strong case are:
Breach of Duty of Care
You must demonstrate that the person responsible breached the duty of care owed to the decedent. Your case must prove that the victim’s death was due to carelessness or lack of responsibility.
For example, a road contractor not installing adequate road signs can be found liable for breaching their duty of care. So, the fatalities on that specific route would be considered the contractor’s fault.
The probable cause of death can also make a case for wrongful death if you can prove the claim. For example, a prisoner received threats from other inmates. Even after reporting the incident, the jail staff did not take any action, such as isolating the prisoner.
If the prisoner gets hurt and killed as a consequence, the correction officers can be held liable. You must prove that death is the result of either the action or inaction of the prison administration.
Intentional Wrongful Act
When a criminal act, such as robbery, results in death, it is considered an intentional wrongful act. In this case, you must demonstrate that the wrongful act that resulted in your loved one’s death was intentional, and the wrongdoer must be held liable.
So, what are the pieces of evidence you must hold to help prove negligence? These can include:
- Financial losses in the form of medical expense records
- Financial records that demonstrate any lifestyle changes after a loved one’s death
- Accident reports
Who Are Wrongful Death Beneficiaries in Texas?
Texas identifies primary beneficiaries as surviving spouses and children. The distribution rules for wrongful death lawsuits vary by state. A part of the compensation received in a wrongful death lawsuit is decided under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.004.
If you have lost a loved one to someone else’s wrongdoing, reach out to a Texas wrongful death lawyer. They can help you determine who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim and who qualifies to receive compensation from a wrongful death settlement.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out in Texas?
In a Texas wrongful death trial, the judge will have complete authority over the allocation of the settlement amount. Jurors often award surviving spouses the largest sums of money, followed by minor children and the parents of minor children who have passed away.
Each qualified surviving family member will get compensation from a jury depending on the magnitude of their losses. The amount granted will be equal to what the surviving family member lost as a result of the decedent’s untimely passing.
Call a Texas Wrongful Death Attorney
If the death of your loved one was caused by carelessness, a wrongful death attorney can assist you in getting compensation for your losses. But for your wrongful death claim to succeed in Texas, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate a few specific requirements.
Our attorneys at the Buzbee Law Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve. We are well-versed with all the components of a wrongful death claim in Texas. Contact us today to discuss the specifics of your case with an experienced Texas wrongful death lawyer.