Coping with the loss of a loved one is more difficult when the death is unexpected. When a family loses a loved one as a result of someone else’s careless actions or malicious conduct, the pain is even more acute and the death harder to bear. If you are in this situation, we are genuinely sorry for your loss. Our law firm has helped many people in similar situations move forward and we are ready to assist you.
Under Texas civil law, certain surviving family members of the deceased may hold the at-fault party accountable in a wrongful death lawsuit. Texas defines wrongful death as a death caused by another’s negligence, carelessness or wrongful act. The wrongful death may occur in a car accident, a truck crash, a construction accident, an oil field accident, other types of accident, or malicious conduct.
At Herrman & Herrman, our compassionate lawyers can review the circumstances of the accident that took your loved one’s life and discuss your legal options. We understand the wide range of emotions that a family may experience during this difficult time. The road to recovery can be hard to navigate. Our attorneys offer compassionate legal advice and strive to help families pursue the full compensation they are entitled to after the death of a loved one.
We have five locations across Texas, including two offices in Corpus Christi. We’re also available to meet at a location convenient for you. Call our office at (361) 882-4357 or reach out to us online and set up a free consultation with one of our experienced wrongful death attorneys.
Types of Compensation in a Wrongful Death Suit
In wrongful death cases, eligible family members may seek compensation for certain types of expenses and losses. These include both economic losses such as medical and funeral expenses and non-economic losses such as emotional anguish and loss of companionship.
Certain losses can be calculated through bills, receipts, and pay stubs. Economic compensation will generally cover:
- Medical expenses insured before the individual’s death
- Funeral costs
- Burial costs
- Loss of income
- Loss of earning capacity
Non-economic damages are more subjective. These damages are meant to cover significant changes in quality of life and cannot be measured by tabulating bills. Examples of the types of non-economic losses that a family may seek compensation for in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Loss of care
- Loss of support
- Loss of comfort and companionship
- Emotional distress
- Loss of inheritance
If the conduct that caused your loved one’s death was grossly negligent, intentional or malicious, the court also may award punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer.
Punitive damages are financial in nature and can be awarded to the victim’s family, but they are not meant to cover a loss. These damages are meant to serve as a punishment for misconduct. These damages are also supposed to signal that such conduct is intolerable in a civilized society and to serve as a deterrent so that others do not engage in similar actions or behavior.
If you are unsure as to which types of damages may be available in your situation, talk to a skilled attorney with Herrman & Herrman, PLLC. An attorney can review advise you on which categories of damages you may be able to pursue.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?
For a wrongful death claim to have a chance of standing up in Texas court, four elements must be established. These elements include:
- Negligence – The family of the deceased must be able to show that their loved one’s death was caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of another party.
- Breach of Duty – A wrongful death case also must establish that the negligent party owed a duty to the victim. In the case of a car accident, for example, drivers have a legal duty to drive safely to avoid endangering others. The family of the deceased must show that the negligent party failed to fulfill their duty.
- Causation – In a wrongful death suit, the victim’s family must prove not only that there was a breach of duty but that the breach was directly responsible for their loved one’s death.
- Damages – All of the elements above must be combined to show that the victim and their family suffered a measurable loss as a result of the accident. A loss can be shown through medical expenses, funeral costs, or a loss of income.
The four elements create the framework of a wrongful death case. This framework needs to be supported and substantiated with evidence that links the negligent actions of the at-fault individual or business to the death of your loved one.
Our experienced attorneys at Herrman & Herrman, PLLC have the skills and resources to investigate a wrongful death incident and gather crucial evidence to build a persuasive case for compensation. The initial consultation to understand your options is free and confidential.
How to Determine Wrongful Death Damages
It is important to keep all medical bills, burial receipts, and other financial documents stored in a safe place. These documents may be crucial when it comes to determining the number of wrongful death damages that a family may be due.
If the victim was hospitalized or received medical care before their passing, these expenses can be totaled into the overall compensation that may be due to the family. The same goes for funeral costs and burial expenses. Families should retain all bills and receipts from the funeral home, burial service, or mortician.
Those wanting to file a wrongful death claim should also gather the victim’s pay stubs and other financial information. Family members may be able to demand compensation for lost income and the victim’s lost earning capacity if the deceased had been a family breadwinner and helped support the household.
Other factors that may help determine the total amount of wrongful death damages that may be awarded include:
- The age of the victim at the time of the accident
- The victim’s potential future earning potential
- Whether the victim was partially at fault for causing the accident
- Whether the conduct of the liable party was grossly negligent
Which Family Members Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Texas law limits the family members who can file a wrongful death action after the loss of a loved one. The family members who are eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas:
- The spouse of the deceased
- The children of the deceased
- The parents of the deceased
- The personal representative of the deceased’s estate
Siblings of the deceased are not eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you have lost a loved one in Texas, our compassionate attorneys at Herrman & Herrman can help you understand whether you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
What Is the Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A family has two years from the date of a loved one’s fatal accident to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, seeking compensation. This is referred to as the statute of limitations.
The two-year time period is measured from the date of the person’s death.
If the family fails to file the lawsuit within the allowed time period, the family may lose to right to seek compensation.
In certain cases in which the cause of death was only discovered later, the statute of limitations may be extended.
It’s important to turn to a knowledgeable attorney who can calculate the time allowed for filing your wrongful death lawsuit and will meet the legal requirements.
A Lawyer Can Help You Seek Damages in Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Losing a cherished family member is traumatic and disruptive. No amount of money will make up for the loss of your loved one or the birthdays and special occasions they will miss. But you and your family should not have to endure financial hardship because someone else acted negligently and caused the death of your loved one. Texas civil law recognizes the right of families to hold the wrongdoer accountable in these situations and demand just compensation.
The team at Herrman & Herrman can be a resource for you and your family and provide a strong shoulder for you to lean on and trusted legal guidance. A tragic accident shouldn’t leave your family saddled with medical debt and put you and your family in financial straits. We handle wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. You won’t pay any costs out of pocket. You will only be charged a legal fee if we are successful in securing compensation for you.
If you are ready to talk about your situation and want help understanding your wrongful death claim options, call us at (361) 882-4357 or reach out to us online. We have two Corpus Christi locations as well as offices in McAllen, Brownsville, and San Antonio. Contact us today – we’re ready to help.