Losing a loved one is one of the most profoundly difficult things that can happen to you. The intense grief that follows a loved one’s death is deeply traumatic; psychologists identify the loss as the single most stressful event in an individual’s life.
When that death occurs as a result of another individual’s or entity’s negligent, dangerous, or careless behavior, survivors often experience especially acute grief, stress, and anger. These parties crave — and rightfully deserve — some sort of legal retribution for their loss.
Additionally, one type of stressor that often goes unmentioned is the financial and administrative burden of a wrongful death. Survivors must also deal with the practical facts of their loved one’s passing, including paying for their final costs, coping with the loss of household income, and sorting through the details of their estate.
In the state of Texas, compensation for these and other damages is often available through wrongful death and survival claims. These are civil actions brought forth by surviving loved ones, relatives, and administrators of the deceased’s estate to ease the emotional and economic damages suffered through the loss of a cherished spouse, child, or parent.
If someone you love was killed in an accident, you have the right to understand who or what was at fault. And if there was negligence involved, you may have the right to compensation for the damages, as well. A wrongful death lawyer can help you investigate the circumstances behind your loved one’s death and assert those rights in the event that misconduct or negligent behavior is to blame. While no amount of money can replace a loved one who has been killed, it is your right to hold the wrongdoer accountable for the pain and financial consequences that have been caused.
A wrongful death claim is a civil action designed to mitigate the economic losses and emotional burden of losing a loved one at the hands of another individual’s or organization’s negligence or misconduct. These lawsuits occur separately from criminal suits; they can be filed independently by the surviving spouse, children or parents, even if no criminal charges have been brought by the state or the defendants were not found guilty in a criminal trial. In fact, wrongful death survivors often file lawsuits with a civil court when the criminal system did not result in an indictment or conviction. This is because the burden of proof in a civil case is lower than in a criminal case, and the two systems are separate.
There are countless ways that a wrongful death can occur. However, there are several types of cases we see frequently at FVF Law.
There are many harms and losses, called “damages,” associated with a wrongful death — some of which may not be immediately apparent to you and other survivors. Those damages which are financial in nature are called “pecuniary losses” — damages that are sustained by the family members who have lost the decedent’s earning capacity, advice, services, care, maintenance, and support. Beyond those pecuniary losses, are ”non-pecuniary” losses that are difficult to quantify and reflect the loss of those intangible benefits that flow from your relationship to your loved ones.
If a wrongful death suit or survival claim is resolved in your favor, you can recover the following types of pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses, among others:
The Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code places certain limitations on who is considered a survivor of the deceased and who can bring action to recover damages from a wrongful death claim. These parties include:
Note that siblings and other relatives are not included in this list. These parties cannot file wrongful death claims in Texas; however, if these individuals are designated to represent the decedent’s estate, they may be able to file a survival claim on the estate’s behalf.
A wrongful death lawsuit may not address all the financial details associated with the sudden death of a loved one. In Texas, when an individual dies as a result of an accident, that individual retains the right to file a civil lawsuit, just as they would have if they had lived. That action is brought forward by surviving loved ones, legal representatives, and the administrators of the deceased’s estate.
In a survival action, plaintiffs may sue for the pain and suffering the deceased experienced before their death, medical bills incurred as a result of the accident, lost wages, and property damage. If the claim results in favor of the plaintiff, compensation goes to the deceased’s estate to be distributed to the heirs.
In order to assert a survival action, the deceased must have an estate created in their name that complies with Texas state probate and estate law.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer, like our experts at FVF Law, can help you ensure that your loved one’s estate is established in a manner that adheres to Texas probate laws. This includes helping the family bear the financial burden that the probate process can entail.
If you have recently experienced the death of a loved one and you believe that there was foul play or negligence involved, you should discuss your case with a personal injury attorney right away. Beyond the strict two-year statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim, investigating and proving a wrongful death claim in Texas will take considerable time, energy, and resources. It is critically important to make sure all the relevant evidence is preserved so that any person or company who played a role in the wrongful death can be held to answer. That is the main reason why it is in your best interest to speak with a lawyer sooner rather than later.
A wrongful death lawyer near you can help ensure that you meet those deadlines, as well as offer helpful advice on creating an estate, documenting evidence for your wrongful death claim, and investigating the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. We can help you identify the individuals and parties that may be to blame — and ensure that those parties are held accountable for their negligent actions.
The process of bringing forth wrongful death and survival actions against large corporations, insurance providers, and other entities can be quite difficult. A local personal injury lawyer will not only be intimately familiar with the laws and regulations in your area, they’ll also be able to provide nearby resources, such as medical providers and funeral services to help you make arrangements for your loved one.
Our personal injury attorneys at FVF Law have years of experience on their side. We know the local court systems, which helps us navigate through your case efficiently. As locals, we can also relate to jurors in our community. We will help you fight to assert your rights and properly investigate your case.
If you’d like to understand your rights and options following the sudden death of a loved one, contact us today for a free consultation. Our team of legal professionals can help you settle legal and financial details, offering support and guidance during this difficult chapter of your life.