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Dallas Wrongful Death Lawyer

When a person suffers injuries or illness due to another person’s or party’s negligence, the injured party can sue the negligent party in a personal injury lawsuit to secure compensation for his or her damages. However, if the victim dies from the negligent party’s actions, the victim’s family will need to file a wrongful death claim to pursue damages against the negligent party. Each state has unique laws concerning wrongful death claims, and the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Fielding Law can help you answer important questions to move forward with your claim and work fast to get you the results you need.

Why Choose Fielding Law Attorneys?

  • Our experienced Attorneys are available 24/7
  • Will contact you right away
  • We are a small firm with big firm power
  • Have won millions for our clients

What Is Wrongful Death?

Texas state law defines a “wrongful death” as any death resulting from negligence, carelessness, recklessness, or intentionally dangerous behavior. Generally, the same things that may lead to a personal injury claim can lead to a wrongful death claim if the victim perishes from his or her injuries. For example, if a person suffers severe injuries in a car accident due to a speeding driver, the victim would file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. If the victim dies from his or her injuries, then a family member or personal representative would file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver instead.

Wrongful death claims are very similar to personal injury claims, in that both types of civil action revolve around the concept of negligence. Plaintiffs in wrongful death claims can secure many of the same types of compensation as plaintiffs in personal injury cases, in addition to other types of compensation for the surviving family.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Texas allows a surviving spouse, parent, or child of a wrongfully deceased person to file a wrongful death claim. If no such kin files a wrongful death claim within three months of the death, then a personal representative of the deceased’s estate may pursue a claim instead. However, they may only do so if a surviving member of the family does not explicitly request that they do not file a claim. Adult children may file a wrongful death claim for the wrongful death of a parent, and an adopted child may pursue a wrongful death claim for the death of an adoptive parent. However, an adopted child may not pursue a wrongful death claim for the wrongful death of a biological parent. Adoptive parents may also file wrongful death claims for the negligent deaths of adopted children. Texas law does not allow siblings to file wrongful death claims.

What Is a Survival Action?

When the victim in a wrongful death case did not die immediately from his or her injuries, the estate may pursue a survival action for the damages the deceased experienced immediately preceding his or her death. For example, if a person dies immediately in a car accident, the family would file a wrongful death claim. If the person suffered extreme injuries but did not perish immediately, then the estate could pursue a survival action for the damages incurred between the accident and the victim’s death. The damages in a survival action typically reflect the compensation the deceased would have likely pursued for his or her damages had he or she survived.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas

Texas law allows certain individuals to collect compensation on behalf of a decedent. These wrongful death claims help surviving family members gain compensation for their material and intangible losses resulting from a loved one’s untimely death. Texas also imposes a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful death claims. This means a claimant has two years beginning on the date of the death in question to file such a claim.

Proving a wrongful death claim requires proof of four essential elements:

  • The Defendant Owed the Plaintiff a Duty of Care
    • First, the party bringing a wrongful death action must show that the party they’re bringing an action against had a legal duty of care to the decedent. Civil law requires that we all exercise reasonable care to one another. Motorists, for example, owe a duty of care to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other drivers on the road. Similarly, a doctor owes a duty of care to his or her patients, a daycare worker owes a duty of care to children, and a university owes a duty of care to its students.
  • The Defendant Breached a Duty of Care
    • Next, the plaintiff must show that the defendant breached his or her duty of care to the plaintiff. Most often, this occurs by establishing negligence. This legal term refers to the idea that the defendant failed to act in a manner that was reasonably careful. As an example, a reasonably careful motorist would not text and drive or speed, and a reasonably careful doctor would follow an established standard of care. When a defendant acts in a reckless or careless manner, he or she breaches his or her duty of care by committing negligence.
  • The Defendant’s Breach Was the Proximate Cause of the Injury
    • It’s not enough to show that a duty of care existed, and the defendant violated it; the plaintiff must also show that the breach of duty caused injury, or in this case, the death of the decedent. Under civil law, grounds for a suit only exist if an injury or some other damage occurs. A motorist may commit negligence and almost cause a car accident, but “almost causing an accident” is not legal grounds for a claim. A plaintiff must be able to show that a defendant’s negligence directly caused the decedent’s death.
  • The Plaintiff Suffered Damages as a Result
    • Finally, the plaintiff must be able to show that the death of the victim led to quantifiable damages. Examples of possible damages include hospitalization related to the final illness or injury, loss of income and earning potential, expenses associated with the funeral and burial, and intangible losses such as loss of partnership or guidance and any suffering the decedent may have experienced before death.

How Do You Prove the Four Essential Elements?

Establishing the four elements of a wrongful death case requires the assistance of an attorney. It demands strong and compelling evidence through eyewitness and expert testimony. Establishing damages in a wrongful death case, for example, is a highly complex process. It often requires talking to actuaries and economists to determine not only immediate costs associated with wrongful death, but also the projected amount of losses the surviving family members are expected to suffer as the result of the victim’s death. Even things like child care, laundry, and transportation go into calculating economic damages.

An attorney can help by demanding fair and full compensation for the tangible and intangible losses that a family experienced in light of a wrongful death. He or she will establish the four elements inherent in a wrongful death case and calculate the associated damages. He or she will prove to be an invaluable partner during the process and demand maximum compensation in light of a loved one’s untimely death. If you lost a loved one and think that someone else may be legally responsible, contact us and schedule a free initial consultation.

What Damages Are Recoverable?

Each state outlines the damages recoverable through wrongful death claims. In Texas, a claimant may pursue compensation for lost earning capacity, including lost future earnings the decedent would have reasonably expected to earn had he or she survived. A wrongful death claim may also pursue compensation for lost value of household and personal services, loss of affection and consortium, lost inheritance (if the deceased’s retirement accounts and savings accounts lose any value due to the death), and the mental anguish the surviving family experienced because of the wrongful death.

Plaintiffs in wrongful death claims can secure various types of compensation, including:

  • Medical expenses
    • The plaintiffs can sue for the medical expenses resulting from the victim’s final illness or injury, including hospital treatment, palliative care, and any other costs associated with medical care.
  • Pain and suffering
    • The plaintiffs can sue for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish the deceased experienced leading up to his or her death. Additionally, the plaintiffs can sue for the loss of love, affection, guidance, moral support, and comfort the deceased provided.
  • Lost income
    • Plaintiffs in wrongful death claims can sue for the deceased’s lost income during his or her final illness or injury, as well as future earnings. The plaintiffs can also sue for lost insurance coverage, investments, and other assets compromised by the death.
  • Property damage
    • If the defendant’s actions caused damage to the deceased’s personal property, such as a vehicle in a car accident, the plaintiffs can sue for the cost of repairing or replacing said property.
  • Punitive damages
    • If the death occurred due to criminal activity or gross negligence, the surviving family may receive punitive damages. As the name suggests, punitive damages serve as punishment to discourage similar behavior by others in the future.

An untimely death is always tragic, and surviving family members need reliable legal counsel to handle their wrongful death claims. The team at Fielding Law has experience handling complex wrongful death claims. If you’ve experienced an unexpected death in the family due to negligence in Texas, reach out to a personal injury attorney in Dallas at Fielding Law to schedule a free consultation. We will let you know what you and your family can rightfully demand through a detailed claim assessment.