A sudden and preventable death of a loved one is a loss that no family should have to endure. Unfortunately, 2021 saw 4,489 traffic fatalities in Texas and medical errors are believed to be the third leading cause of death nationwide.
At The Mejia Law Firm, we have seen time and time again how a person’s unexpected death can completely alter the emotional and financial stability of their surviving family members.
If you’re here, you may be wondering, “What is a wrongful death?” We’re sorry for your loss and whatever series of events led you to ask this question. While we cannot undo what has already happened, we would be proud to guide you and your family through the legal process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is Wrongful Death in Texas?
In Texas, a wrongful death has occurred if it is the result of an injury caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of another person. An easy way to determine whether a death is considered wrongful is to consider whether, had the victim survived, they would have been entitled to compensation in a personal injury claim.
Types of Accidents Involving Wrongful Death
A wrongful death may arise out of virtually any type of injury-causing incident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries have been the leading cause of death since 1981.
Unintentional injury is a category that includes deaths from:
- Motor vehicle accidents,
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents,
- Oil field accidents,
- Construction accidents,
- And more.
Wrongful deaths are not limited to the above examples of accidents. If you believe that your loved one would still be here had it not been for the negligent or reckless actions of another person or entity, contact The Mejia Law Firm as soon as possible. We’ll meet with you in a no-cost, no-obligation setting to answer any and all questions you have about your legal options for a family member’s preventable death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Texas state law limits which family members have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a decedent. According to Section 71.004 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, the following family members may choose to file a wrongful death claim:
These surviving family members may bring the suit collectively, or one individual can take legal action for the benefit of multiple parties.
Should these surviving family members choose not to take action within a period of three months of the victim’s death, the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate may bring the action on their behalf. However, surviving spouses, children, and parents also have the right to request that the executor or administrator not file this lawsuit.
Compensation Available in a Wrongful Death Claim
We understand that the idea of securing compensation in a wrongful death claim can be difficult for some families. However, we want to be clear about one thing—collecting compensation in a wrongful death claim is not assigning a monetary value to your loved one’s life.
We know that no amount of money could ever begin to fully address the value of your loved one’s life. Money will not bring back their smile, their laughter, or the time that you spent together. For Texas families who have endured an unimaginable loss, a wrongful death lawsuit will never replace what they’ve lost.
Instead, a wrongful death claim seeks to address the ways in which your life has been affected by the loss of a loved one. In a typical claim, you and your family might be entitled to compensation for three different types of damages.
Economic damages refer to the tangible financial losses you and your family have suffered as a result of your loved one’s death. These calculable losses may include:
- Lost income or financial support
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses incurred during attempts at life-saving care
- Loss of future inheritance
We recommend keeping copies of all relevant financial information, including bank statements, pay stubs from your loved one’s past paychecks, and any bills or invoices you’ve received. Bring these with you when you meet with an attorney from The Mejia Law Firm.
Monetary losses are not the only ways your life was affected. The absence of a spouse, parent, or child can have a profoundly negative impact on your life, and it is your right to hold the at-fault party responsible for this sense of loss.
Non-economic damages compensate you and your family for the non-financial losses you’ve suffered, including:
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of love, companionship, or consortium
- Loss of nurturance and guidance
For example, if you lost a spouse, non-economic damages may address the emotional support you lost in raising your children.
Also referred to as exemplary damages, punitive damages are considered rare in most personal injury and wrongful death cases. When a judge or jury chooses to award compensation for punitive damages, they are not doing so with any particular loss of the victim’s family in mind. Instead, it is a decision that is made to punish the liable party or to “make an example” of them.
Punitive damages are only awarded in claims where there is clear evidence that the wrongful act was committed with fraud, malice, or gross negligence. Your attorney will advise you whether the specific details of your case warrant punitive damages.
The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Actions
Texas state law affords a period of two years from the date of a person’s death to bring forward a wrongful death action. A lawsuit for a loved one’s wrongful death does not have to be settled within this two-year time limit—you need only initiate legal action before two years has passed.
Two years may initially seem like a long period of time, but will likely pass much faster than you can anticipate. For this reason, we do not recommend waiting to speak with a lawyer. The sooner you schedule a free consultation with The Mejia Law Firm, the sooner we can begin collecting and preserving evidence for your case.
The Mejia Law Firm Is a Compassionate Advocate for Texas Families
We would be honored to help you pursue a sense of justice on behalf of your family member. For an opportunity to discuss your loved one’s life, discover the legal actions you may be entitled to take, and find out answers to complex questions like “What is wrongful death?”, please contact us at your earliest convenience.
We’ll schedule you for a completely free consultation with a knowledgeable and compassionate attorney. We take most cases on a contingency fee basis.