Losing someone you love is often a deeply traumatizing experience. You may struggle to accept the reality of the situation. It is common for people to go through a denial stage, especially when a passing occurred with very little warning.
Many wrongful death claims arise from sudden accidents, such as a scaffolding collapse that fatally injures a nearby pedestrian or a drunk driving collision. Texas gives people the right to go to court and ask for financial compensation when another person or a business causes the death of one of their family members.
As someone struggling to accept a recent tragic loss, you need to understand the basics of a Texas wrongful death claim.
Who has the right to file?
Immediate family members have the strongest legal right to ask for wrongful death compensation. Texas law gives primary consideration to surviving spouses and children left behind by tragic and unexpected fatalities.
Parents can file a claim for the death of someone who had no children and was unmarried. Unfortunately, the law does not specifically protect the right of siblings to seek compensation.
What can families receive?
Texas allows surviving family members to ask for compensation for their personal losses. Frequently, families ask for the lost wages and benefits provided by the deceased. Lost inheritance can also factor into the amount requested in a wrongful death claim.
The financial value of a loved one’s household services can also increase what the family receives in the lawsuit. Surviving family members can request compensation for their mental anguish and for the loss of the companionship and love of their family member.
You may also be able to request survival damages, which include the costs the deceased individual could have sought if they survived to bring a personal injury claim. Hospital expenses and property damage costs are among the losses you can potentially claim. In cases involving gross negligence or willful misconduct, punitive or exemplary damages may be possible, but you will have to prove that the situation meets a relatively high standard for such compensation.
Your claim is not dependent on criminal prosecution
You have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim even if the state never charges the other party with a crime. A successful conviction may bolster your claim, but a lack of a conviction will not prevent you from getting compensation. You will need to act in a timely manner, as there is a two-year statute of limitations that does apply.
Learning the basics of wrongful death claims in Texas can help you feel prepared to seek justice for your recent loss.