When a loved one dies unexpectedly and it is because of the bad actions of another individual or business, the survivors are left devastated, lonely, sad, hurt, and angry. A wrongful death claim may be the last thing on your minds as you try to figure out how you will live life moving forward without the love, comfort, and support of the deceased. While the deceased may have loved and supported many people during their life, only those designated by statute can bring a wrongful death claim.
In Texas, a wrongful death claim may be brought by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate on behalf of the surviving family members who suffered damages as a result of the death.
Under Texas law, the following individuals may be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased person
- The surviving children of the deceased person
- The surviving parents of the deceased person
If the deceased person did not have a surviving spouse, children, or parents, the claim may be brought by any other family member who is entitled to inherit from the deceased’s estate. If you think you may have a claim for damages due to the untimely death of your loved one, Austin personal injury attorney Ashley Applewhite is available for a free consultation to surviving family members.
Understanding a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit
It is important to note that in Texas, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of death. If a lawsuit is not brought within this timeframe, it is likely to be barred by the statute of limitations. A threshold question is often: who can be held legally responsible for my loved one’s death? After a fatal accident, it can be hard to identify all of the responsible parties that may be liable for the wrongful act that caused the death. An experienced Austin wrongful death lawyer will investigate the incident, review records, work with experts, and more to identify every at fault party to ensure that the survivors hold everyone responsible accountable and to ensure those left behind are taken care of financially.
Should You File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under Texas law, the surviving spouse is often the party that hires a personal injury lawyer and files a wrongful death lawsuit. The damages they can recover in such a lawsuit include but are not limited to medical expenses the deceased incurred before their death, funeral expenses and burial expenses, loss of wages in the past and loss of future earnings of the deceased, loss of companionship, society, and support, mental anguish, emotional pain, and suffering. If gross negligence – or malicious, willful, or wanton conduct by the at fault party – can be shown, punitive damages may also be available to punish the defendant and keep them from making the same bad choices again in the future and hurting others. The damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit will depend on the specific circumstances of each case and the losses that the surviving family members have suffered as a result of the death.
What Happens During a Wrongful Death Case?
The trajectory of a wrongful death case is much like any other type of personal injury case. The main differences include who will serve as the plaintiff since the injured party has passed away and what damages can be recovered.
A general overview of a wrongful death case goes as follows:
- The surviving spouse or personal representative of the deceased’s estate will hire a lawyer and file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court.
- The responsible party or parties (defendants) will file an answer and appear in the case.
- Both sides will exchange information and items during the discovery process, including but not limited to witness statements, medical records, expert testimony, and more.
- Both sides will file various motions in court as the case progresses for a variety of reasons.
- If the case goes to trial, both sides will present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury. The judge or jury will then determine whether the defendant is liable for the deceased person’s death and, if so, what damages should be awarded.
- Often, wrongful death cases are settled out of court in negotiations. A settlement is agreed upon by both sides and typically involves the payment of funds by the defendant to the plaintiff.
Contact Austin Wrongful Death Lawyer Ashley Applewhite for a Free Case Evaluation Today
A death is extremely difficult to process, and an untimely one often brings unplanned for financial repercussions for the loved ones left behind. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, it’s important that you speak to an Austin wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Our law firm offers a free and confidential initial consultation with no obligation to work with us. While we can’t ease the pain you are feeling, we can ease the burdens created by the loss. Call 512-617-9250 to find out how we can help you.