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What You Need To Know About Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuits



What You Need To Know About Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuits

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action brought by the surviving family members of an individual who died as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another person or entity. The lawsuit seeks compensation for the survivors’ loss.

2021 data from the CDC shows 25.5 million people visited the emergency room for an unintentional injury. Of those people, 224,935 died. That is a death rate of 67.8 per 100,000 people. 

Medical malpractice deaths are a particularly deadly risk in the US, with 251,000 fatalities recorded annually. Misdiagnosis or a delayed diagnosis is the cause of 32% of claims in this area, while prescription errors harm 1.5 million people each year and cause $3.5 billion in damages.

Many of those people will have had loved ones who grieved them. If you lose a loved one because of an incompetent surgeon, a car accident triggered by a drunk driver that causes a flaming wreck on the Interstate, or they worked for a construction firm that cheaped out on PPE, you may have a wrongful death case. Here’s what you need to know before contacting a wrongful death lawyer in Texas.

The Texas Wrongful Death Act

In Texas, the surviving spouse, parents of the deceased, and their children can file a wrongful death claim under the Texas Wrongful Death Act. If the deceased does not have any of these surviving relatives, the executor or administrator of their estate may bring the claim on behalf of the estate.

Proving Liability

To succeed with a Texas wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs must prove:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased and breached that duty through negligence. Examples include a driver causing a fatal car accident or a doctor providing substandard medical care.
  • The defendant’s negligence caused the death of the deceased directly. 
  • Surviving family members experienced financial injury and mental anguish as a result of losing their loved one. This can include loss of companionship – social isolation increases the risk of an early death by 32% according to one study published in a leading journal.

Damages Available

Compensatory damages that may be recovered in a Texas wrongful death suit include:

  • Loss of expected earnings and benefits
  • Loss of inheritance 
  • Mental anguish and loss of companionship
  • Medical and funeral expenses

Additionally, punitive damages may be awarded if gross negligence or intentional misconduct is proven.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations imposes strict deadlines for filing wrongful death claims in Texas. Surviving relatives must file the lawsuit within 2 years from the date of their loved one’s death. 

Special considerations also apply for cases involving medical malpractice or injuries to minors. Meeting with an experienced Texas wrongful death attorney early on is crucial for preserving your rights to recovery.

The Grieving Process

Losing a loved one is painful enough without having to manage complex legal actions during the grieving process. An attorney can handle the fact-finding, negotiations with insurance companies, litigation, and trial work for you while you focus on healing. Though no amount of money can make up for your loss, a wrongful death settlement or verdict can provide some financial security for you and your family moving forward.