A wrongful death is a death that occurs due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another person. When a wrongful death has occurred, those individuals who have lost a loved one can pursue monetary damages against the responsible party by filing a civil lawsuit. Texas statutes section 71.001 specifies that a wrongful death action may be pursued if the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of one party results in the death of another party. Damages awarded to the plaintiff may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Medical expenses incurred prior to the death of the victim
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the deceased’s income and financial support
In the event of a willful act or omission, or gross negligence, on the part of the plaintiff, exemplary damages may be awarded. These are punitive damages, intended to punish the plaintiff for engaging in intentionally harmful or irresponsible behavior.
Statute of Limitations
In Texas, the wrongful death statute of limitations is 2 years, as it is for other types of personal injury claims. This means that a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the death. By waiting longer than two years to file, family members risk being permanently barred from doing so. There are exceptions to this two-year statute of limitations, however, such as when:
- The plaintiff has been physically or mentally incapacitated.
- The defendant has committed fraud by attempting to conceal his involvement in the death.
- The plaintiff is a minor.
You Need an Attorney
If you’ve lost a loved one in a vehicle accident, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Preservation of evidence is crucial, and it’s generally easier for your attorney to collect evidence immediately following the accident. If you wait until the statute of limitations is about to run out, there may be insufficient time for your attorney to collect the evidence you need or prepare an effective case. To learn more, contact the Cain Law Firm to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.