Dealing with an unexpected death of a loved one can be very difficult, but when the death is caused due to the negligence of another party, your family may be able to get compensated for wrongful death. This article will explain what wrongful death in Texas means, who can file a wrongful death claim, and potential damages you can recieve in a successful case.
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death may be brought if the “wrongful act, carelessness, unskillfulness or default” of one party causes the death of the other due to negligence or misconduct. A wrongful death case is classified as a civil action lawsuit, meaning that if there are already established criminal charges against the defending party; the family may file a separate case in order to compensate for emotional or monetary damages.
Who Can File a Suit on Behalf of a Deceased Loved One?
When a family member passes suddenly, only a few close family members may file a lawsuit or handle the estate on behalf of the deceased. If the deceased is an adult, a personal representative will be assigned to handle the case. Normally the representative is a spouse, parent, legal guardian, child, or the next of kin; grandparents or siblings cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit. A spouse, child, or parent may file for wrongful death singularly or as a group. If the deceased is a child, meaning under the age of 20-years-old or 23 and a full-time student, married parents can file together; if divorced, the parent with full custody will file, or the child’s legal guardian may file.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
In the state of Texas, if you feel like your loved one died due to negligence, a lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of the person’s death unless one of the clearly defined exceptions applies. In addition to any criminal charges connected to the case, a wrongful death claim can still be filed against the defendant. Damages in wrongful death claims are paid to compensate surviving family members for their losses stemming from an untimely death. The family can be compensated for losses such as:
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost care, maintenance, services, support, advice and counsel the deceased would have provided their surviving family members
- Mental and emotional anguish, pain and suffering
- Lost love, companionship, comfort, and society
- Lost inheritance, including what the deceased would have likely saved and left to the surviving family members if they had lived a normal expected lifetime.
Damages in wrongful death cases are not only paid to compensate the family, but to further punish the wrongdoer and send a message that their negligent behavior will not be tolerated. It’s up to the family’s lawyers to demonstrate the financial and personal losses suffered by each family member, so the judge/jury can assign appropriate compensation. If you have lost a loved one due to willful or grossly negligent behavior, contact our team of attorneys for a consultation today.