After a loved one dies in an accident or passes away due to an injury, their family members often want justice. While filing a wrongful death claim will not bring your loved one back, it might provide you with the closure you need and the compensation you deserve.
A wrongful death claim in Texas is a legal action brought by the surviving family members or the estate of a person who died due to the negligence or intentional act of another person or entity. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to allow families to recover compensation for the financial and emotional losses they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death.
The elements of wrongful death can be difficult to understand, but the Grossman Law Offices team can walk you through how these elements apply to your situation. Read on to find out more about how to bring a wrongful death claim in Texas and how Grossman Law Offices can help you hold the party responsible for your loved one’s death accountable.
What Elements of Wrongful Death Must You Prove For a Successful Claim?
There are four primary elements of wrongful death. You must prove all of these elements to be eligible to receive compensation. We will address each individual element in turn.
Death of a Person
The first element that must be proven in a wrongful death claim is that a death occurred. To bring a wrongful death claim in Texas, the person who died must have been a resident of Texas or died in Texas as a result of the alleged wrongful or negligent act. Without a decedent, there can be no wrongful death case.
Negligence or Intentional Wrongful Act
In order to bring a successful wrongful death claim, you must show that the defendant was either negligent or acted with intentional disregard for the safety of others. We all have a legal obligation to use reasonable care under the circumstances so that we don’t injure others. This is called a duty of care. When someone fails to use reasonable care, they have breached their duty of care. Negligence is a failure to use reasonable care under the circumstances, which results in harm to another person. In other words, if someone breached their duty of care, they were likely negligent. Intentional conduct is conduct that is done with the specific intention of causing harm to another person.
You will then need to prove that the defendant’s negligence or intentional conduct caused your loved one’s death. The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you gather and present evidence to help you prove causation.
The next element that must be proven is that the surviving family members or estate have suffered monetary injury as a result of the death. This means you must show that your loved one’s death has caused their surviving family members or estate to incur expenses, lose income, or suffer other financial losses. Being able to produce evidence of your losses is crucial to prove your damages and determining the appropriate amount of compensation. Losses can be shown through medical records, receipts, and other objective evidence.
In addition to these elements, a Texas wrongful death claim may also require the plaintiff to prove additional elements depending on the specific circumstances of the case. For example, if the defendant is a healthcare provider, the plaintiff may need to prove that the defendant deviated from the accepted standards of care in treating the decedent.
What Damages Can You Get in a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Texas law allows eligible family members to collect compensation that can help them cope financially following the death of their loved one. The following types of damages might be available to you if you bring a wrongful death claim:
- Lost household support for the surviving family;
- Lost care and counsel;
- Loss of love and comfort;
- Medical bills incurred between the time of injury and death;
- Funeral expenses incurred after the death;
- Burial expenses;
- Loss of inheritance and financial support the decedent would have left had they lived up to their natural death;
- Lost guidance, advice, and support;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of companionship;
- Emotional and mental anguish; and
- Loss of income that the deceased brought into the household.
Although rare, the court can also award exemplary damages. Exemplary damages are intended to punish the defendant and to deter similar conduct in the future.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
In order to bring a successful wrongful death claim, the claim must be brought by the proper party. In Texas, a wrongful death claim must be brought by the surviving spouse or the decedent’s parent or children. If, after three months, no action has been brought by an eligible family member, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can bring a wrongful death claim. If no personal representative has been appointed by the decedent’s will or a court, a representative can be appointed by the court to bring the claim.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in Texas for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of the death. If you don’t file your claim within two years of the date of the death, you will likely be prevented from filing your claim. Some exceptions may apply, but be sure to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible, as exceptions are not automatically granted, and they require the plaintiff to prove their applicability.
How Grossman Law Offices Can Assist
If your family has been impacted by a wrongful death, Grossman Law Offices is here to help you seek justice. Our award-winning team can investigate your claim, explain your legal options, and help you hold the party responsible for your loved one’s death accountable. We’ll put our years of experience to work for you so that you can focus on taking care of yourself and your family. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.