Although death is inevitable, sometimes it leaves much bitterness because it could have been prevented. You may call it avoidable or unexpected death. The sad thing is; there is no way to bring the deceased back to life.
A wrongful death attorney might help you win a personal injury claim and subsequent damages if the death was due to negligence. However, in Texas, you must be able to prove certain elements in order for your wrongful death claim to be successful.
Our attorneys at the Glenn Law Firm understand the elements of a wrongful death claim in Texas and work hard to get our clients fair compensation. So, why not schedule a consultation for your case with our experienced wrongful death attorneys in Texas?
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
Which elements should you prove in a wrongful death case? Here are the key ones:
Duty of Care
Failure to act responsibly enough to allay a person's death under one's care is a crucial element of wrongful death. If a defendant neglects or is irresponsible, they are liable for damages. The plaintiff needs to ascertain that the defendant failed in their duty to care for the deceased's wellbeing. They need to prove that the failure led to the person's death.
An example of failure to take care is when a car stalls on the road, but the driver fails to put the hazard lights on. The driver has a duty of care to inform the unknowing public.
Breach of Duty of Care
Once the plaintiff has established the duty of care owed to the deceased person, they must prove that the defendant violated the breach. They must show how the failure to act responsibly or take care led to the death.
For example, a road contractor who fails to put clear road signage breaches their duty. They are responsible for any death that may occur on that particular road.
So, the plaintiff must establish the breach of duty caused by the defendant.
It could be that the defendant violated the breach of duty to care, but did it lead to death?
The burden of proof for the breach of duty to care lies with the plaintiff. They need to elucidate the misconduct that caused a death. They need to prove that the defendant caused death by being irresponsible.
Take, for example, an inmate who fellow inmates in prison have threatened. The inmate has even reported the incident. However, the prison administration has not acted, e.g., secluded the inmate. As a result, the inmate is injured and eventually dies.
The plaintiff must prove that the prison administration is responsible for causing the death by not secluding the deceased inmate. The action of failure to act causes death.
Intentional Wrongful Act
Intentional wrongful Acts may occur in a situation where a criminal act like robbery leads to death. Also, when security forces are bringing order, then it happens that someone dies in the commotion, the case may be proved to be an intentional wrongful act. The plaintiff will need to prove that if it were not for the actions of the security forces, the death could not have occurred.
To be compensated for an intentional wrongful act or negligence, the plaintiff must show the damages they have suffered due to the death. The injuries could be in the form of property or financial loss. The evidence of losses is crucial in determining the justified amount of compensation.
So, what evidence should the plaintiff produce?
- Medical expenses records incurred that prove you have suffered financially.
- Avail financial records that detail a change in lifestyle due to the death.
- Accident reports
What Damages Are Compensated for in a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
The Texas law on compensation for damages for a wrongful death provides compensation for the losses. Monetary damages received by the plaintiff(s) help them cope financially following the untimely death of their loved one. The following are types of damages you can sue for:
- Lost household support for the surviving family
- Lost care and counsel.
- Loss of love and comfort
- Medical bills incurred between the time of injury and death
- Funeral expenses incurred after the death
- Burial expenses
- Loss of inheritance and financial support the deceased person would have left had they lived up to their natural death.
- Lost guidance, advice, and support
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional and mental anguish
- Loss of income that the deceased brought into the household
Additionally, the court may award the plaintiff exemplary damages. Exemplary damages punish the defendant for the death caused and discourage carelessness or any other action that may lead to wrongful death.
What Is Considered Wrongful Death in Texas?
According to the Texas Wrongful Death Statute, wrongful death is when a person's death is caused by another (agent) due to their:
- Failure to fulfill an obligation
- Wrongful acts
Wrongful and negligent actions are the most common wrongful death actions.
The agent could be a corporation, a government entity, or a person who bears liability for the wrongful death action.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
The Texas Statute of Wrongful Death provides who can file for damages arising from a wrongful death claim. To file a wrongful death lawsuit, you need to fulfill the following criteria:
- You must be a surviving child of the deceased or a legally adopted child of the deceased person.
- You must be a surviving spouse of the deceased.
- You must be a surviving parent or an adoptive parent.
- Be the personal representative of the estate of the deceased.
An adopted child or children are regarded equally in compensation as per the law.
Filing for a negligence claim is a civil matter. Therefore, any eligible family member can file a civil lawsuit irrespective of whether criminal charges have been preferred against the defendant. Taking legal action for wrongful death has a time limit of two years from the time of the death unless certain circumstances as per the statute of limitations.
How Can an Attorney Assist With a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death case involves several things that require the expertise of wrongful death attorneys. An experienced attorney will help investigate and gather evidence crucial to support the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
An attorney can identify the specific aspects of neglect and determine the value of the plaintiff's damages. A wrongful death lawyer also helps file the lawsuit, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent the plaintiff in proceedings.
Death is painful. However, understanding the elements of wrongful death claims in Texas may help win a wrongful death case. Receiving compensation for damages will offer solace to the deceased's loved ones. It will help them cope with the death. The personal injury attorneys at Glenn Law Firm are experienced, listening, and will work hard on your case. If you think the death of your loved one could have been avoided, call us, and we will arrange a consultation with you.