Not only is it wrong when an individual or entity in Texas exhibits negligence, disobeys the law and causes harm to innocent people – but if that maltreatment results in death, the surviving family members or friends can experience significant trauma. A wrongful death lawsuit can help bring justice, closure and much-needed compensation.
Understanding wrongful death
Wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to the negligence of another party. This means that a person or company failed to act in a reasonable way, and as a result, your loved one died. In Texas, the law requires you to prove four elements for a wrongful death case to succeed:
- The employer owed the deceased person some kind of duty of care
- There was a breach of this duty
- Their death was directly caused by the breach
- There were actual damages as a result of the death
People that can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas
Typically, the estate representative (executor) has a fiduciary duty to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. However, if the deceased didn’t write a will already, given the unpredictability or untimeliness of their death due to events such as motor vehicle accidents, close relatives may file a wrongful death suit. This includes spouses, children, parents or other relatives who can show that they depended on their loved one financially and emotionally.
Wrongful death claim filing process in Texas
The process begins by filing a petition with the court stating the basis of your wrongful death claim. You’ll need to provide proof that there was negligence, carelessness or intentional wrongdoing on behalf of the accused party towards your deceased loved one resulting in their death. This may include medical records, police reports and eyewitness testimonies, amongst others. The court will hold a hearing where they’ll let you present your case and give the defendant the opportunity to defend themselves.
If the judge finds that the other party was at fault for your deceased’s death, they’ll order them to pay for your damages, including coverage of medical bills, funeral expenses and lost wages, as well as pain and suffering or emotional distress. The court might also award punitive damages to punish the defendant for their wrongdoing and deter them from repeating it in the future.