Losing a loved one due to someone else's negligence is heartbreaking. It is an emotionally scarring experience that also has serious financial implications.
Surviving family members often seek compensation and justice through a wrongful death claim in such tragic circumstances.
Anyone wanting to file a similar lawsuit must understand what qualifies as a wrongful act and the Texas wrongful death statute of limitations and who can file wrongful death in Texas.
Also, the surviving spouse or family member can file this claim after their loved one's death due to any of the following reasons:
Wrongful death attorneys can help victims throughout this legal process.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
Grief and mourning can be overwhelming, and dealing with a legal case is daunting. In Texas, however, specific laws determine who has the right to file such a claim. Not everyone can file a wrongful death case.
Surviving Family Members
The main people who have the legal right to create wrongful death lawsuits are the family members of the deceased person. It doesn't matter if they weren't living together with the victim at the time of the death.
Also, the children of the deceased person (biological or adopted) can file a Texas wrongful death claim. However, the court gives them the right only if no surviving spouse is in the household.
Without surviving partner(s) or children, the next party who can file a wrongful death claim is the parents. This includes biological and adoptive parents.
In some cases, a legal estate representative may be able to file a wrongful death suit. This is when the surviving parent(s), children, or spouse have mental or physical impairments that affect their sane ability.
After a successful wrongful death case, the personal representative will distribute the compensation between the deceased's heirs.
Common Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is a legal pursuit that lets family members seek compensation for their emotional and financial losses.
Hospitalization fees are the most immediate and substantial expenses family members must bear after a loved one's death. This can include surgeries, expensive medications, and other medical services.
Laying a loved one to rest is the most overwhelming feeling in the world. However, this emotional moment also comes with hefty costs. Funeral expenses include paying for a burial plot, casket, embalming, etc.
When a person dies due to someone else's negligence, the surviving family members can have difficulty dealing with the financial issues that arise afterward.
The situation worsens when the deceased person used to be the only earning member of the household. Their death contributes to immediate lost income.
Pain and Suffering
Losing a loved one can lead to emotional distress, mental anguish, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
On top of that, wrongful death can also result in loss of companionship. While money can't make things right, it can compensate surviving members for their emotional sufferings.
The court may award punitive damages in wrongful death claims that involve gross negligence or intentional misconduct. They aim to punish the responsible party and deter similar behavior in the future.
Depending on the case's specifics, there may be other damages to consider. These can include property damage, loss of consortium, and various out-of-pocket expenses.
While no amount of compensation can replace a lost life, it can help alleviate the financial burden caused by the loss. Reimbursement can also provide a sense of justice and accountability.
Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
The Texas wrongful death statute of limitations establishes the timeframe within which a victim's representative(s) must file a wrongful death claim.
In the Lone Star State, the period starts two years from the date of the victim's death. This means family members have 24 months to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Nothing can overstate the importance of acting quickly within this timeframe. There are many reasons why the court encourages plaintiffs to act promptly:
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit within the timeframe preserves evidence of the incident. This includes accident reports, witness statements, official police reports, etc. Delays can result in the loss or degradation of crucial information.
Third-party witnesses may have clearer recollections if interviewed soon after the event. Delays can lead to fading memories and reduced liability.
Can the Court Extend the Statute of Limitations?
While the statute of limitations for a wrongful death case in Texas is only two years, there are exceptions to this rule.
One situation in which the court may extend the timeframe is during the "discovery phase." This rule comes into play when the exact cause of negligence that led to the fatality is not immediately apparent. In such cases, the two-year clock may start from when the cause of death became known.
Under specific circumstances, the statute of limitations can "pause." This can happen when the wrongful death involves a minor child. In these events, the clock starts to run after the child turns 18 in Texas.
It's important to note that a wrongful death action involving a government entity has a shorter statute of limitations (only six months).
How Can an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer Help Victims?
Losing a family member is a devastating experience. During such difficult times, having legal support can make a significant difference. These legal professionals play a role in helping victims seek justice and recover compensation.
Experienced wrongful death lawyers provide the essential guidance needed to navigate a wrongful death lawsuit. They explain the legal process, relevant laws, and the steps involved.
Wrongful death attorneys also assess the circumstances of the case. They investigate the events that led to the death, identify responsible parties, and determine liability. Accident lawyers can collect information and evidence for the wrongful death lawsuit.
Experienced professionals serve as strong advocates for victims. Beyond legal aspects, they offer emotional support and empathy to surviving members. They can also answer questions like Does Texas limit damages for wrongful death?
By understanding the statute of limitations in a wrongful death case, survivors can pursue justice and compensation for their losses. Consulting with a legal expert is essential for maximizing rewards and ensuring the lawsuit is successful.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys take pride in helping clients navigate wrongful death cases. With a motto that says, "We Go to War for You," its professionals offer free consultation sessions that victims can take advantage of.