Accidents happen, yet personal injury lawyers advise that when someone dies due to another person’s negligence, the surviving family members may have legal recourse to be compensated for the loss of their loved one.
With more than 167,000 accidental fatalities happening every year according to the CDC, lawyers who help client with wrongful death claims find that many of these incidents qualify as wrongful death cases.1
Though no lawsuit can change the course of history and bring the deceased back after a fatal accident, Texas wrongful death attorneys can help immediate family members receive important financial compensation so they can continue on after their loved one's passing.
What Is A Wrongful Death?
Personal injury lawyers define a wrongful death as an unintentional death that occurs in an accident caused by someone else’s actions.
In Texas, the types of accidents that qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Traffic accidents caused by negligence or recklessness.
- On-the-job accidents if an employer is negligent or does not carry workers compensation insurance.
- Malpractice due to misdiagnosis or mistakes.
- Fatalities caused by defective products.
- Crimes or accidents occurring where the property owner did not ensure public safety.
This is when wrongful death attorneys can help families file suit seeking compensation due to the loss of their family member.
How Is Wrongful Death Proven in Texas?
For a lawyer who is pursuing a wrongful death claim to prove wrongful death for a surviving family member, there are certain required elements that must be proven.
The four elements that must be proven in any wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Duty - A duty was owed by the person who caused the accident as exemplified in an auto accident that the person driving owed a duty to be properly qualified to over a motor vehicle and did so in a safe manner.
- Breach of Duty - Using the car accident example, the person driving the at-fault car must have been following all rules of the road and if not, that person has breached their duty.
- Causation - Continuing with our auto accident example, injuries to another party from this accident occurred because of the actions of the driver who breached his or her duty to drive safely.
- Damages - If all of the above has been proven, then expenses incurred by the surviving family members on behalf of the deceased family may be considered as part of the claim which could include medical bills, funeral and burial costs plus other items like loss of companionship, loss of income from deceased person, and mental as well as emotional pain and suffering.
It is basically the same type of case that a personal injury lawyer would bring forth on behalf of an injured client seeking payment for damages; however, in this case the lawsuit is brought forth by the family of the deceased.
Who Is Entitled To Sue for Wrongful Death?
Only a certain family members are permitted to sue for wrongful death.
In Texas, the ones who may legally hire a wrongful death attorney and sue the responsible party include spouses, children, and parents.
Family members may file individually or as a group and if none of them have filed within three months of the wrongful death, a representative of the estate of the deceased may also file.
Are There Time Limits for Wrongful Death Lawsuits In Texas?
There is a statute of limitations of two years from the date of death for any qualifying family member and their lawyer to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Only in rare instances such as a family member being mentally incapacitated or being a minor at the time of the wrongful death can the case be brought after that two-year period.
Let A Wrongful Death Lawyer Help
Losing a family member in an accident is a heartbreaking event for those who survive and it can become even harder if that person provided for their family or had financial dependents.
Though the last thing on most people’s minds when dealing with something like this is to hire a wrongful death lawyer, it is something that personal injury lawyers do suggest that families consider.
With the help of an experienced attorney, surviving family members in Texas can file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation for qualified expense so long as it is filed within the two-year statute of limitations.
Hildebrand & Wilson, Attorneys at Law
7930 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics: Accidents or Unintentional Injuries, November 13, 2020