There are few things more emotionally devastating than the loss of a loved one. The situation can be even more difficult to cope with when the death was avoidable or caused by someone else's negligent actions.
What is Wrongful Death?
Texas law considers a death to be "wrongful" if the cause was a “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of one party. For example, if a drunk driver crashes into and kills a pedestrian, the driver can be civilly sued for wrongful death.
Four Major Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
In order to successfully pursue a wrongful death case, you must be able to prove that the case meets four basic conditions. To ensure that your case is legally sound, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Fort Worth wrongful death attorney.
In a wrongful death claim, you must be able to prove the following:
- The death was caused wholly or partially by the defendant
- The death was a direct consequence of the defendant’s negligence or intentional acts
- The death has affected the victim’s family
- The survivors incurred monetary damages due to the death
Why Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?
After a loved one passes unexpectedly, legal action is the last thing on most people’s minds. While it may seem callous to pursue financial compensation, it is important to recover the money you need for funeral expenses and other costs your family has incurred.
It is also critical to hold the responsible parties accountable for the death they have caused. In many cases, negligence occurs when companies prioritize profits over the safety of the public – such as when trucking companies encourage their drivers to drive faster. A wrongful death claim can not only help you punish these negligent parties, but can also help prevent future tragedies.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
When negligent actions cost a person their life, the victim’s family has the right to pursue justice in the form of a wrongful death claim. However, only certain individuals can legally file a wrongful death suit against the responsible party. The surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased person can file a claim in the state of Texas. They can submit the claim singly, or a group of them may choose to file together.
The individuals not allowed to file a wrongful death claim include surviving siblings, regardless of the closeness they shared with the deceased, and individuals in a personal relationship with the deceased.
Damages in such claims are paid to compensate the surviving family members and the estate for their losses stemming from the untimely death of the deceased. They can cover lost earning capacity, mental and emotional anguish, lost companionship, lost inheritance, and lost care and maintenance support.
What Damanges Can the Surviving Family Recover?
The first category of damages permits compensation for losses experienced by the deceased from the moment of the negligent act that led to death and the value of financial contributions the victim would have made to the survivors if he or she didn’t die. These damages include medical and funeral expenses associated with the death, loss of the deceased person’s expected earnings, loss of benefits, loss of an inheritance caused by the untimely death, and the value of the goods and services that a victim would have provided.
While they are less tangible, noneconomic damages typically have more value compared to economic damages. These damages include pain and suffering experienced by survivors, loss of consortium from a deceased spouse, loss of care and nurturing from the deceased, loss of love and companionship from the deceased.
In some cases, these type of damages may be recovered when a wrongful death is caused by a willful act or omission, or by gross negligence. The purpose of exemplary damages is to punish a wrongdoer, not to compensate the survivors.
Get in Touch with a Skilled Wrongful Death Attorney
If your loved one was killed by severe negligence, don’t hesitate to give our compassionate Fort Worth wrongful death attorneys a call. The Law Office of James M. Stanley can provide dedicated and skilled advocates for injured victims and their families. Let us see what we can do for you.
Contact us at (817) 591-4222 or fill out our online form to schedule your complimentary case evaluation today.