A wrongful death claim must prove that the defendant’s negligence was a cause of the death (there can be more than one cause) and the case is available only to family members such as parents, children and spouses. Different causes of death may have different standards of negligence.
For example, a dangerous product case may be based upon a design defect in the product or a manufacturing defect. A design defect is a condition, which makes the product unreasonably dangerous, considering the use of the product and the risks of its use. In order to prevail on a design defect clam, the plaintiff must show a safer alternative design, which would have reduced the risk of injury or death and also was economically and technically feasible at the time of the incident.
A wrongful death case frequently stems from a car accident and many times the fatal wreck was caused by a drunk driver.
Surviving family members should speak with an attorney about their case and the standards they must meet to establish liability. Only spouses, parents and children of the decedent are entitled to bring wrongful death claims in Texas.
Common Wrongful Death Questions
Which relatives are allowed to sue for wrongful death?
The law establishes which persons may be entitled to compensation for loss or injury. It is always wise for any family member of a person who has been severely injured or killed in an accident to contact a wrongful death lawyer immediately after the accident to evaluate the matter and determine which family members may be entitled to compensation. In Texas, that is generally, the spouse, parents and children of the deceased. Call us at (281) 587-1111 to discuss a wrongful death claim on your behalf.
How is the value of a wrongful death case established?
It is impossible to place a monetary value on the life of a loved one. Nothing can be done to bring them back. Despite this, the law allows for certain damages for the loss of a loved one in some cases. For a free consultation with a Houston wrongful death lawyer, call or contact us today and we will explain the legal recovery process in detail.
Types of Wrongful Death Damages Recoverable in Texas
There are two different actions that surviving family members may pursue after an individual’s death. Survival actions can recover damages in cases where the deceased survived the accident and later passed away. They address compensation on behalf of the decedent, like pain and mental anguish, medical expenses, and funeral and burial expenses. Wrongful death cases are claims family members bring for their personal loss from the death of their loved one.
Some examples of wrongful death damages include:
- Pecuniary losses – These are the losses family members endure like loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel and any contribution that the family member, in reasonable probability, would have received from the decedent.
- Loss of companionship and society – This refers to the loss of love, comfort and companionship that a family member is without because of the death.
- Mental anguish – This refers to the emotional pain and suffering a family member experiences because of the death of his or her loved one.
- Loss of inheritance – This is the present value of assets the decedent would have left to a family member as part of his or her estate.
Punitive damages may be available in some cases as well, but only in situations where the death was caused by a “willful act or omission or gross negligence of the defendant.” (Tex. Civ. Code Title 4 Sec. 71.009)