Jason Stephens | July 5, 2023 | Wrongful Death
Most states have laws that allow family members to file lawsuits seeking financial recovery after the wrongful death of a loved one, including Texas. Wrongful death laws provide a monetary award as compensation for losses caused by a family member’s untimely death. Money does not bring back your loved one or ease your grief, but it is the only remedy the courts can offer under civil law.
It can be difficult to think about pursuing a legal case so soon after your family member’s death. However, the sooner you reach out to a lawyer, the better chance the attorney has of persevering evidence needed to prove your case.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim in Fort Worth, TX?
Texas Civil Code §71.002 defines the cause of action for wrongful death. A wrongful death is the death of another person caused by someone’s neglect, carelessness, wrongful act, unskillfulness, or default.
You have the burden of proving the legal elements of a wrongful death action. Those elements are:
- The party owed a duty of care to the deceased person
- The party breached the duty of care through their actions or omissions
- The breach of duty was the proximate and direct cause of the deceased’s death
- The death of your loved one caused damages and losses
Many of the wrongful death claims filed in Fort Worth result from negligence or intentional torts. Proving causation can be one of the most difficult elements of a wrongful death case. If you cannot link the party’s actions to your family member’s death, the party is not responsible for damages.
Examples of Incidents and Accidents That Could Result in Wrongful Death Cases
A wrongful death action can arise from any event or accident. Examples of situations that can result in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Construction accidents
- Premise liability claims
- Slips and falls
- Pedestrian accidents
- Product liability claims
- Dog bites
The best way to know if you have a wrongful death claim is to meet with a Fort Worth wrongful death lawyer. During a free consultation, the attorney reviews the facts of your case and advises you about your legal options.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action in Texas?
Wrongful death actions differ from other types of personal injury cases. Texas law restricts who can file a wrongful death action. In many cases, the following family members have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim:
- Surviving spouse
- Biological and adopted children
- Adoptive and biological parents
All family members can join in one lawsuit against the party who caused their family member’s death.
If a person does not have close family members or the family member does not file a wrongful death lawsuit within three months after the person dies, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim.
The money the estate receives for a wrongful death action is distributed according to the terms of the person’s Will. Texas intestate laws would dictate who receives the money from a wrongful death lawsuit if the person died without a Will.
What Damages Can I Receive According to the Texas Wrongful Death Statute?
The damages in a wrongful death lawsuit are not the same as the damages the person could have received in a personal injury case had they lived. The damages family members can receive for a wrongful death include:
- Reimbursement for reasonable burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of inheritance
- Reimbursement for medical bills the deceased incurred between the injury date and the date of death
- Loss of household support and financial support
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship, counsel, guidance, care, and support
In addition to awarding compensatory damages, a jury could award punitive damages. Punitive damages are paid to the plaintiff but are intended to punish the defendant. Only a small number of cases qualify for punitive damages.
The estate’s personal representative might seek additional compensation by filing a survival action. If your loved one survived the initial injury and remained alive for a period, the estate might be entitled to compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering.
What Is the Deadline for Filing a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Losing a family member suddenly can be shocking. The weeks and months following the death can be confusing and overwhelming. However, a deadline has started that directly impacts your right to hold the person responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions. In most cases, family members have up to two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, an exception to the statute of limitations could change the filing deadline. Therefore, it is wise to talk with a Fort Worth wrongful death attorney about your case as soon as possible.
Contact Our Wrongful Death 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 wrongful death 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