Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Wrongful Death Claims – 5 Important Facts You Need To Know!
A sad fact about car and truck accidents in Texas and across the United States is that they cause thousands of fatalities every year. Unfortunately, the number of traffic fatalities has been on the increase since 2015,1 meaning that more families than ever before must deal with these tragic losses due to someone else’s negligence.
Personal injury claims lawyers represent families in wrongful death claims and seek compensation due to the loss of their loved one. Texas wrongful death attorneys offer some helpful facts to families dealing with such a loss in an effort to answer some common questions about wrongful death lawsuits.
1. What Defines A Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is defined under Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Code3 as a fatality caused by the carelessness, negligence, unskillfulness, or default of another person or company. Examples of wrongful death include fatalities that occur due to distracted driving in heavy truck accidents, drunk driving crashes, medical malpractice, defective product accidents, errors, and more. Personal injury claims lawyers can assist defined family members in the filing of wrongful death claims when fatalities result from such events.
2. Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death attorneys are only allowed by law to help certain relatives of the deceased bring forth a wrongful death claim. In Texas, these family members include the spouse, parents, and children of the deceased as well as the adoptive parents of a deceased adopted child.3 Claims may be filed by a group of multiple family members or by a single individual.
3. What Type of Damages can be Claimed?
The purpose of working with personal injury claims lawyers in the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit is for a family to obtain compensation for losses resulting from the death of their loved one. Compensable damages will vary depending on who files the claim and their relationship with the deceased.
Commonly awarded damages include survival damages, loss of income, loss of inheritance, loss of care, loss of personal support and guidance, loss of love and companionship, loss of household services and other damages that survivors may encounter.
Fatalities that stem from gross negligence or a willful act may also qualify claimants to recover exemplary damages.
4. What Are Survival Damages?
In addition to the standard damages that can be recovered in these types of claims, wrongful death attorneys can also recover survival damages for families of the deceased. These are damages which, had the deceased survived, he or she would have been able to claim on their own.
Survival damages include the physical and emotional pain and suffering the deceased would have experienced in cases such as truck accidents that resulted in death due to a fire or even instances where the deceased was alive for a while but then passed on. Survival damages also include compensation for medical bills, funeral and burial costs, and other costs incurred by the estate of the deceased.
5. What Is the Statute of Limitation for Filing A Claim?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Texas is two years from the date that the death occurs, except in a few specific cases where it is longer. Overall, the family members of the deceased should file a claim within the two-year limitation to ensure they have met statutory requirements that apply to this cause of action.
Car and truck accidents as well as other events result in thousands of fatalities every year.2 When these deaths are the result of negligence, some family members of the deceased retain the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of personal injury claims lawyers. While no amount of money can ever bring back a beloved family member, experienced wrongful death attorneys can help families move forward with fair compensation for their loss.
1National Safety Council, Statistics Department: 2016 Estimated Traffic Fatalities
2National Safety Council, Statistics Department: 2017 Estimated First Half Traffic Fatalities