Losing a family member can be difficult, particularly when someone else’s negligence lead to death. In the state of Texas, family members, including surviving spouses, children, and parents, can sue the party responsible for their loved one’s death. A wrongful death suit is another way survivors can receive justice against the responsible party and recover compensation associated with loss.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
Wrongful death lawsuits can be extremely complex and can be filed independently or jointly by surviving family members. A surviving family member may choose to file a claim on his or her own or a representative of the deceased’s estate can file a claim on the family’s behalf. Adoptive parents and children are also included in surviving family members who are able to file a claim, but brothers and sisters are not permitted to file claims on each other.
Where are Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed?
Wrongful death claims after a person has died because of another’s carelessness, were developed to care for the family and provide another means of financial punishment against the responsible party. The claims are filed in civil court and are separate from any criminal proceedings, which are pursued by a government prosecutor, and consequences of a successful claim are entirely financial.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim
In Texas, wrongful death claims need to be filed within two years from the time of death. Filing a wrongful death claim is very similar to filing a personal injury claim. Family members can initiate filing a claim by speaking with a Texas wrongful death attorney. Family members can file a wrongful death claim independently of an attorney, but many choose to enlist the help of a qualified legal professional to help prove their case, expedite the process, and negotiate with insurance companies and other parties.
Wrongful death claims are often complex and require careful investigation to ensure surviving family members receive fair compensation. A wrongful death claim can provide survivors with compensation for:
- Financial loss including medical and funeral expenses and loss of support
- Emotional distress
- Lost inheritance children would have received had the family member survived
- Lost companionship a spouse or other family members may experience after death
Once a settlement has been reached, family members who have taken part in the action will be compensated fairly for their individual losses. In addition to these pecuniary or financial damages, a family may also be awarded punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the responsible party above and beyond the typical compensation for loss.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims must include proof that the plaintiffs bringing the case are legal beneficiaries of the deceased and that the defendant’s careless actions caused the death. Wrongful death claims can be brought against companies or individuals. Surviving family members can bring a claim against a defendant if their loved one died immediately or if he or she died from complications resulting from an accident injury.
To establish liability in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff will have to prove:
- The defendant engaged in negligent behavior
- The negligent behavior led directly to a victim’s death
- The surviving family members are legal beneficiaries of the victim’s estate
- The surviving family members have sustained measurable loss as a result of the victim’s death
Every case may have slightly different elements, which an experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate on an individual basis. Family members who have suffered loss at the hands of an individual or company deserve compensation to help them recover and begin to move forward.