The unexpected and untimely death of a loved one is difficult to come to terms with. It can be even more devastating if the death was caused by the negligence of another person.
A wrongful death occurs when a neglectful act of another person directly results in the loss of life.
In Texas, wrongful death may be defined as “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default that causes the death of a person”.
A wrongful death claim is a civil remedy that allows certain surviving family members to hold individuals, companies, or government agencies responsible for intentional or unintentional actions that cause the death of a family member. A civil lawsuit is brought to provide compensation to a grieving family for economic and non-economic losses.
PROVING LIABILITY IN A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM.
In order to hold the defendant liable in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs (usually close relatives through the estate of the deceased victim) must meet the burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet had the victim been alive.
The interesting aspect of a wrongful death case is that as a civil case, the burden of proof is ‘preponderance of the evidence. This means that the plaintiff has to prove that, more likely than not, the defendant was negligent in his actions.
This is far less to prove than the burden of proof required in criminal courts, which is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.
In a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the Court orders the defendant to pay financial compensation (damages) to the deceased person’s survivors.
In a successful criminal homicide case, the accused is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment and may be fined by the State.
Like most Negligence cases, a plaintiff must establish four elements to prove a wrongful death claim. These elements include:-
- DUTY OF CARE.
The plaintiff must prove the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased victim.
- BREACH OF DUTY.
Establishing that a duty existed is not enough. The plaintiff must show that there was a violation of the duty that the defendant owed to the deceased victim. It has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt that the reckless, careless, or negligent act of the defendant led to the death of the victim.
The plaintiff must prove that the breach of duty was the cause for the death of the victim. The reckless, careless, or negligent act of the defendant directly resulted in the death of the victim.
The plaintiff must show that real measurable damages were suffered due to the wrongful death.
SURVIVAL OF CAUSE OF ACTION.
Under Texas laws, a cause of action for personal injury to the health, reputation, or person of the injured person does not abate because of the death of the injured person or because of the death of the person liable for the injury.
A personal injury action survives to and in favor of the heirs, legal representatives, and estate of the injured person. The action also survives against the liable person and the person’s legal representatives.
If a defendant dies while an action is pending, the executor or administrator of his or her estate may be made a defendant.
In Texas, an action to recover damages is provided for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased.
WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT IN TEXAS?
The parties that have the sole right to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas include:-
The deceased person’s spouse typically has the first right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The surviving spouse generally is the one that brings a lawsuit for wrongful death
Children of the deceased have as much right as a surviving spouse to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If the decedent was not survived by a spouse or children, then parents can bring a wrongful death claim.
- EXECUTOR OR ADMINISTRATOR.
If none of the individuals entitled to bring action have begun the action within three calendar months after the death of the injured individual, his or her executor or administrator can bring and prosecute action unless requested not to by all those individuals entitled to bring the action. The proceeds received in the form of damages still go to the deceased’s heirs.
If you and your family have suddenly lost a loved and cherished member, contact a Dallas Wrongful Death Attorney to learn more about your rights and the steps you need to take in the future. The longer your family waits, the more likely the probability of crucial evidence getting destroyed or tampered with.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUITS.
Most Common types of wrongful death lawsuits include:-
- Wrongful death lawsuits due to Motor Vehicle Accidents.
- Wrongful death lawsuits due to Nursing home abuse.
- Wrongful death lawsuits due to slip and fall accidents.
- Wrongful death lawsuits due to poisoning.
- Wrongful death lawsuits due to choking.
- Wrongful death lawsuits due to drowning.
- Wrongful death lawsuits due to workplace Injuries.
- Wrongful death lawsuits due to Medical Malpractice.
- Wrongful death lawsuits due to Daycare facilities injuries.
STATUTE OF LIMITATION FOR FILING A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT IN TEXAS.
There are specific time limits, restrictions, and rules for filing a wrongful death claim. An experienced wrongful death lawyer in Dallas ensures that you fully understand the federal, state, and local laws that might apply to your case. Texas statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years after the death of the injured person.
FACTORS THAT DETERMINE HOW MUCH COMPENSATION CAN BE RECOVERED.
Some of the prominent factors that play an important role in determining the amount of compensation to be paid to the survivors of the victim of wrongful death are:-
- Age of the deceased.
- Medical bills associated with the accident that caused the demise of the deceased.
- Funeral costs.
- Lost income that would have been earned by the deceased in the future and would have contributed to running the household.
- Lost future financial benefits arising out of retirement, insurance policies and investments which are no longer applicable due to loss of life.
COMPENSATION FOR THE FAMILY OF A VICTIM OF WRONGFUL DEATH IN TEXAS.
Our compassionate and articulate attorneys pursue compensation aggressively on your behalf and let you focus on healing emotionally.
In general, a deceased victim’s family may be entitled to recover compensation for:-
- ECONOMIC DAMAGES.
- Medical costs that the deceased victim incurred as a result of the injuries prior to death.
- Loss of the deceased victim’s expected income.
- Funeral and burial costs.
- Loss of inheritance as a result of death.
- Value of services that the deceased victim would have provided.
These damages are quantifiable and reimbursable. There is no cap on the recovery of these damages.
- NON-ECONOMIC DAMAGES:
- Damages for surviving spouse’s lost companionship and protection.
- Damages for pain and suffering,
- Damages for loss of consortium.
- Damages for loss of care, guidance, and nurturing that the deceased would have provided to his or her family.
- Damages for minor children’s lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance.
These damages are difficult to calculate. In Texas, there is no cap on the recovery of such damages., unless the case is a medical malpractice claim.
- EXEMPLARY DAMAGES:
These damages do not compensate for any losses. Exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages may be available in a Texas wrongful death case if the death was the result of a ‘wilful act or omission or gross negligence. The purpose of exemplary damages is to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct by committing reckless actions through malice.
Exemplary damages are capped at $200,000 or twice the amount of economic damages, but no greater than $750,000.
If the government was responsible for the deceased person’s injuries, damages cannot exceed $100,000.
LAW OFFICES OF DOROTHY HYDE – BESIDES LEGAL REPRESENTATION, OUR CLIENTS GET OUR TIME, SUPPORT, AND COMPASSION.
Besides superior legal representation, our qualified and compassionate attorneys provide hope to those going through the grieving process. We assist our clients to navigate through the difficult emotions that the loss of a loved one can bring.
A wrongful death claim should be expertly handled to avoid causing additional pain and heartache to the surviving family.
Theodore Roosevelt said “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care”. Our firm’s identity, purpose, values, and success are based on caring for our clients.
Caring is as much a hallmark of Dorothy Hyde’s legal practice as her experience, integrity, intelligence, and knowledge of Texas laws.
Wrongful death cases are taken up on a contingency basis by our firm, which means our clients pay nothing unless we win their case or settle it.
CONTACT A DALLAS WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER.
If you have lost a loved one due to the carelessness, recklessness, or negligence of another person, you deserve to be compensated for your irreparable loss. Call an experienced Dallas wrongful death lawyer at our firm for a free case evaluation right away.