It can be hard to know what to do if you have lost an immediate family member due to the negligence of another person. This time of grief will likely be incredibly difficult from an emotional standpoint, even before we consider the additional financial strains involved with losing a family member. You may be left with reduced income and astronomic funeral and burial expenses to deal with, on top of the emotional turmoil.
This is why a wrongful death lawsuit is often the right option. It is likely that the last thing you will feel like doing is pursuing a wrongful death claim, but this will allow you to seek compensation for all you have lost and hold the negligent person responsible. However, wrongful death claims can only be filed by certain family members, as we will explain in this article.
Here at Abraham Watkins law firm, we have a wealth of experience helping with emotionally-sensitive wrongful death claims. Our lawyers have the skill and compassion needed to guide you through the process, handling the stress and admin so that you can focus on processing your loss. Find out how we can help you today with a free consultation, which will take place at no obligation in a totally confidential environment.
For more information on filing a wrongful death lawsuit, call us today at 713-535-9319.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
No matter who was named in the deceased’s estate, there are only certain people who are able to file a wrongful death lawsuit when someone dies. These people are the following certain surviving family members:
- The surviving spouse;
- The deceased person’s children;
- The parents of the deceased person; and
- The personal representative of the deceased person under certain circumstances.
Unfortunately, these are the only people who are able to make this kind of claim when a wrongful death occurs. We are aware that there are many more possible close family members than these, but under Texas law they are unable to get damages awarded for a wrongful death claim.
Can Adoptive Or Divorced Parents Sue For Wrongful Death?
While wrongful death lawsuits do exclude many potentially impacted surviving family members in Texas, they do make allowances for variations in the parties listed in the section above.
This means that adopted parents and adopted children are still able to raise wrongful death cases to seek financial compensation for their losses. Similarly, divorce will not prevent the father, mother or an ex-spouse from being able to raise wrongful death claims. However, if you are an ex-spouse who has since remarried, this may be used by the defense to contest your wrongful death claim.
What Are The Additional Restraints On A Personal Representative’s Wrongful Death Claim?
Outside of the family member and surviving spouse list mentioned above, only the personal representative outlined in the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. However, there are still some additional limits to this.
Mainly, if the personal representative is not one of the deceased’s parents, children, or their surviving spouse, they must wait a period of three months from when the person dies to be able to raise their claim. After this three-month period has elapsed, the personal representative must work within the same time limits as all other eligible parties.
The Time Limit For Filing A Wrongful Death Claim In Texas
You only have a certain amount of time to file a wrongful death claim in Texas. This period of time is known as the statute of limitations, and it is a two-year period beginning on the exact day of the person’s death.
While two years may seem like a long time, you should move as quickly as possible if you want to secure wrongful death damages. This may seem unthinkable so close to the loss of the deceased, but evidence can quickly get lost and the more time that passes, the lower your compensation for recovered damages is likely to be.
We understand the difficulty in moving quickly after an event like this. That is why our team of compassionate lawyers will handle all of the difficulties for you.
How Is Wrongful Death Defined?
A wrongful death is any that is caused by the negligence or recklessness of another person. For example:
- Road traffic accidents caused by another person driving recklessly or while intoxicated;
- Fatal injuries caused by negligence that was preventable by another;
These are just some examples, as there are many circumstances that would justify raising a wrongful death action. If you are a family member mentioned in the sections above and you believe that you may be entitled to raise a claim, arrange a free consultation with a wrongful death lawyer from our firm to find out for sure whether you may be entitled to compensation.
Are Wrongful Death Lawsuits The Same As Murder Accusations?
One thing that many people mistakenly believe is that when they file a wrongful death action, this is the same as accusing a person of killing your loved one. However, there are some key differences.
A wrongful death case takes place in civil courts, not criminal ones, and has a lower burden of proof necessary for a successful claim. This means that it will be easier to receive compensation and recover damages for your loss than it would be to put a murderer behind bars.
Being found liable in a wrongful death lawsuit will only result in monetary damages, and will not cause the liable person to receive jail time. This is because a wrongful death case is only designed to seek compensation, not criminal justice.
Can A Person Sue For Wrongful Death During An Ongoing Criminal Lawsuit?
Sometimes, a person will cause someone else’s death with such a level of gross negligence that the negligent person will receive criminal charges as well.
In these circumstances, the family members of the deceased person are still able to make a wrongful death claim. The claim may take a longer period of time to be completed, due to the fact it will have to map with the timeline of the criminal charges.
However, it will also likely be easier to have damages awarded for a wrongful death lawsuit when a criminal charge is also part of the process. This is because the criminal charge features a higher necessary burden of proof, and a conviction or guilty plea can also be used to back your wrongful death claim.
What Damages Can Be Recouped By A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit will consider many things when determining compensation. These include:
- Funeral and burial costs;
- Outstanding medical expenses incurred due to the negligence that led to the wrongful death;
- Loss of companionship and consortium; and
- Lost wages that would have contributed towards household income.
These damages can make it easier to get through the incredibly turbulent emotional and financial time period following the death of a loved one.
Hire A Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of somebody else and you are a spouse, parent, child, or someone who has been named as personal representative by estate powers, you could be entitled to raise a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for your losses.
We understand that this is likely to be one of the most difficult times of your life. It can be incredibly guilt-inspiring and retraumatizing to conduct legal action around your loved one’s death so soon after it happened. However, it is necessary to hold the negligent party responsible for the damages they have inflicted on your family. Similarly, many people underestimate the cost of losing a loved one in terms of burial and funeral costs, outstanding medical bills, and the impact on their household income.
Here at Abraham Watkins, we are devoted to handling the difficult aspects of your wrongful death lawsuit so that you can focus on mourning the deceased without additional legal stress. Our lawyers have a wealth of knowledge, experience, and compassion that we have used to guide many people just like you through this process before.
You do not have to commit to anything straight away. Instead, you can simply get in touch for a free consultation at no obligation to see how we could help. Call us today at 713-535-9319.
Schedule A Free Consultation Today.
If you have additional questions about your accident or injuries – or if you wish to speak to one of our attorneys about your legal options – please complete our online contact form or call our Houston law office at 888-261-8831 or 713-244-5486.
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