A wrongful death occurs under Texas law when someone causes another person’s death because of a wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, default, or unskillfulness. Most personal injuries that result in death qualify as a wrongful act because the death was avoidable if not for the negligence of the responsible party.

The best way to know if you have a wrongful death case is to talk with a wrongful death lawyer. During a free consultation, an attorney reviews your case, explains the elements of a wrongful death action, and discusses your legal options. 

Almost any accident or injury caused by negligence or other wrongdoing could lead to a wrongful death action. Three common examples include:

Automobile Accidents

In 2020, there were 3,896 traffic fatalities, an increase of 7.54% from 2019 figures. Those figures include deaths from motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents. Most traffic deaths can be avoided.

Common causes of traffic fatalities include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Impaired driving
  • Reckless driving
  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Drowsy driving

Texas requires drivers to carry liability car insurance of $30,000 for the death or injuries to one person and $60,000 per accident. Some drivers have higher policy limits.

Sadly, $30,000 does not begin to compensate a family for the loss of a family member. However, there could be other sources of compensation for a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death attorney can assess your case during a free consultation.

Medical Malpractice

Medical negligence and malpractice result in the injury and death of thousands of patients each year. Doctors and other medical professionals can be held accountable when their acts or omissions cause the death of a patient.

To prove a wrongful death action caused by medical malpractice, you need to have evidence proving:

  • The doctor owed a duty of care to your family member 
  • The doctor breached the duty of care
  • The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your loved one’s death
  • The loss of a loved one resulted in compensable damages

Medical malpractice can be a complicated injury claim. Lawyers work with medical experts to gather evidence proving a doctor’s negligence or wrongdoing caused your loved one’s death instead of an unforeseeable factor.

Intentional Acts of Violence

Assault and other acts of violence can result in the death of another person. The criminal court system can hold the guilty party accountable by imposing criminal penalties. However, the surviving family members may also pursue civil court action for wrongful death.

The wrongful death claim is separate from the criminal case. Even if the court acquits the person of the criminal charges, the family could still recover compensation for damages in a wrongful death case.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Fort Worth?

Wrongful death laws vary by state. Some states require the personal representative of the deceased’s estate to file a wrongful death action. 

However, Texas wrongful death statutes give immediate family members the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit, including:

  • A surviving spouse
  • Biological and adoptive children for the death of a parent
  • Biological and adoptive parents for the death of a child

The law allows the family members to file one wrongful death lawsuit against the party who caused their loved one’s death.

What Damages Do Family Members Receive for a Wrongful Death Claim?

Family members who have the right to receive compensation for a wrongful death claim can recover damages for the following:

  • Medical bills incurred between the date of injury and date of death
  • Loss of inheritance and financial support
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of companionship, support, care, counsel, and guidance
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of household support

In some cases, a jury may award punitive damages. Punitive damages do not compensate the family members for damages, even though the court gives the money to the family members. Instead, juries and judges award punitive damages as a “punishment” for the defendant’s intentional or grossly negligent acts.

How Long Do Family Members Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Fort Worth?

The Texas statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is two years from the date of death. Most family members are not in the frame of mind to think of legal action following the death of a loved one. The sudden loss of a family member can be devastating and overwhelming.

The time to file a lawsuit begins with your loved one’s death. If you miss the deadline to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you cannot hold the person who caused your loved one’s death accountable for their actions. Therefore, you may want to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth Personal Injury lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.

Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107
(817) 420-7000