Ask a Lawyer: 6 Things You Should Know About Wrongful Death Cases

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If your loved one died in an accident that was caused by another person or entity, you may be entitled to wrongful death compensation in Texas. Cases involving car accidents, workplace injuries, and medical malpractice are all common reasons to hire a wrongful death lawyer. Because of the complications associated with wrongful death lawsuits, it may be necessary to have a lawyer on your side so that you can reach a fair settlement.

Ask a Lawyer: 6 Things You Should Know About Wrongful Death Cases

1. There Are Many Reasons to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The most common reason to file a wrongful death lawsuit is to recover financial compensation. For example, a settlement from a wrongful death lawsuit can cover the costs of medical bills or earned income from the deceased person. For families who have lost the primary breadwinner in the home, wrongful death compensation can be a necessary source of stability, especially during the adjustment period after the death of the family.

Of course, there may be other reasons to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In addition to financial compensation, many families are also motivated by justice and public safety.

Justice for Loved One

For some families, filing a wrongful death lawsuit is a matter of justice. For example, in a medical malpractice case, a wrongful death lawsuit can bring consequences to the physician or hospital that is liable for the death. Justice can often be more comforting for families than financial compensation alone.

Public Safety

Many families hire a Houston wrongful death attorney to bring awareness to the public. For example, if a company or facility was negligent and caused the death of an individual, the public must be made aware to prevent future tragedies. Some families insist on lawsuits to let the public know about potential dangers.

2. Only Certain People Can File a Lawsuit

Only specific people can file wrongful death lawsuits in Texas. In general, the only people who are eligible to file this type of lawsuit are the parents, children, and legally married spouses of the deceased. Usually, this means that people who want to file a wrongful death lawsuit must prove their legal relationship to the deceased.

For example, the children of the deceased can present a birth certificate and the legal spouse of the deceased can present a marriage certificate. Parents of the deceased can also use a birth certificate to prove their legal relationship to the deceased individual.

What About Step-Children or Step-Parents?

In Texas, stepchildren and stepparents of the deceased are not eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This is because stepchildren and stepparents generally do not have a legal relationship that is recognized by the state of Texas. The exception to this rule is if the stepparent and stepchildren’s adoption records prove a legal relationship.

3. Compensation Can Include Economic and Non-Economic Damages

Compensation for wrongful death lawsuits can include economic and non-economic damages. For example, economic damages can include the loss of income, medical bills, and other financial burdens carried by a family after the death of a loved one. Non-economic damages generally refer to the emotional trauma, pain, and suffering associated with the death of the deceased individual.

Can Compensation Be Limited?

Although there are caps on non-economic damages, there may be other reasons why compensation is limited for a wrongful death lawsuit. For example, if family members file a lawsuit against an individual who does not have any assets to draw a settlement from, the compensation for the family will be limited or even non-existent.

4. There Is a Statute of Limitations

In Texas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of death. If this filing date is missed, then families will forfeit any right to sue for financial compensation.

5. Lawsuits Can Reach a Settlement Or Go to Trial

Wrongful death lawsuits can be settled through mediation or court trials. Many wrongful death lawsuits are settled outside of court with insurance companies or other entities that want to avoid a prolonged court battle. However, if a settlement cannot be reached outside of court, then the case will graduate to trial where a judge and jury will calculate a fair settlement.

6. A Wrongful Death Lawyer Is a Necessity

Hiring a wrongful death lawyer is often a necessity. Unlike other personal injury claims, which may be settled directly with insurance companies, wrongful death lawsuits involve much more evidence that needs to be proven in court. Only an experienced wrongful death attorney will know the best strategies to help your family get justice for your loved one.

If you have lost a family member due to medical malpractice, workplace injuries, or a car accident, you may want to hire a lawyer that specializes in wrongful death lawsuits. A lawyer will tell you if your relationship to the deceased makes you eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.