A period of numbness and shock often follows the sudden death of a loved one. During this time, it is often impossible to fully understand what has happened. Many survivors want to know why their family member was taken from them, and there is often no good answer to this question. However, when a drunk driver, tired trucker, or negligent property owner takes an action—or fails to take action—that causes the death of an innocent person, the answer to that question may be that your loved one was killed because another person did not uphold his duty to keep others safe. This person should be held accountable for his actions. A wrongful death lawsuit will not only hold him liable, but it could bring peace of mind to you and your family. A financial settlement will cover the expenses the death of your loved one has brought and replace the income that will no longer be there in the future. Our experienced attorneys will walk you through this difficult process. Not every death caused by an accident in Texas is a wrongful death, and we will give you an honest assessment of your situation.
What Is Wrongful Death in Texas?
According to the Texas state statute, a death may warrant a wrongful death action if the "wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default" of one party causes the death of another. In some cases the wrongful act is also a criminal act—such as with drunk driving or murder—and criminal charges may also be pursued. However, while criminal charges are filed by a prosecutor, wrongful death charges are filed directly by a family member against the negligent party. The only damages possible for a wrongful death claim are monetary, while criminal charges can result in jail time or other consequences. Sometimes, a wrongful death claim is pursued after a failure to convict a person on criminal charges.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In general, wrongful death claims may only be filed by those who can prove that they will suffer significant financial, emotional, and companionship losses because of the death. In Texas, this includes:
- A surviving spouse
- Children, including adult children, of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
- Adopted children of the deceased
- Adoptive parents of the deceased
These parties may file a wrongful death claim individually or as a group. If none of these parties file a claim within three months of the death, a representative or executor of the deceased’s estate may file the claim, unless an immediate family member requests that a wrongful death claim not be filed.
Damages in a Texas Wrongful Death Claim
It is impossible to put a price on the loss of a loved one, but that is what wrongful death claims attempt to do. Some of the losses are easily quantified—such as lost income and benefits—while others are much harder to determine. An experienced wrongful death attorney will pursue all of the following damages:
- Lost earnings, including current income and potential earning capacity over the course of a normal lifetime.
- Lost inheritance, including what the deceased may have saved if he had lived a normal expected lifetime.
- Lost care and maintenance, including the services, support, advice, and counsel the deceased would have provided his family members had he survived.
- Pain and suffering, including mental and emotional anguish caused by the loss of the deceased.
- Loss of consortium, including love, companionship, comfort, and society.
In some Texas wrongful death claims, punitive damages may also be awarded. These damages are not intended to compensate the family for their loss, but to punish the liable party and to send a message to others about the seriousness of the wrongful act. Punitive damages are given to the wrongful death claimants.
Put Our Hard-Working Granbury Firm to Work for You
At the Cain Law Firm, we understand the loss you feel with the death of your loved one and we will not push you to make decisions you are not yet ready to make. When we take a wrongful death claim, we offer our clients unwavering integrity and high moral character as we pursue justice for your lost loved one. You will be proud to have our lawyers on your team. If your loved one was killed by another person’s wrongful action in Granbury, Grapevine, or Fort Worth, call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.