The Basics of Wrongful Death Claims in Texas
A wrongful death in Texas is defined as a death caused by the carelessness, neglect, unskillfulness or wrongful act of one party. The victim’s surviving spouse, parents or children, either as individuals or as a group, may file a claim for wrongful death. Siblings, however, do not have the right to file these lawsuits in the state.
The spouse, parents or children of the deceased have three months from the date of the death to file a wrongful death claim before the deceased person’s personal representative or estate executor has the right to file the claim instead — unless any of the surviving family members formally requests that such a claim does not get filed.
The processes in wrongful death lawsuits more closely resemble those followed in personal injury cases than homicide cases. The main issue at stake is liability, and to prove the defendant was liable, the plaintiff must provide evidence of the defendant’s negligence. All that is at stake in a wrongful death claim is financial compensation — unlike in a homicide case, in which the defendant could be sent to prison if found guilty.
Damages in a wrongful death claim also are similar to those available in a personal injury case, including:
- Lost wages and earning capacity
- Compensation for medical bills and burial expenses
- Lost care, services, support, maintenance and counsel
- Lost companionship, comfort and love
- Emotional and mental anguish, suffering and pain
- Lost inheritance, based on what the deceased would probably have saved and passed on to family members had he or she lived a normal life span
Punitive damages may also be available in these cases if the defendant’s conduct is considered grossly or recklessly negligent. For more information on filing a wrongful death claim in Texas, contact an experienced Houston lawyer at Cire Law Firm. Call us today at 713.532.6206 or contact us online.