If you’re reading this, you are probably struggling with the loss of a loved one, an experience that can be incredibly difficult to manage. Wrongful death attorneys at the Hanna Law Firm work with grieving loved ones day in and day out, but remain acutely aware that each loss is unique, and is a central focus in the lives of clients.
Understanding how wrongful death laws work in the state of Texas can help you understand if you are entitled to file a wrongful death suit. The following information is offered in the hopes of clarifying some of the more common questions about these types of legal actions. The Hanna Law team is always here to help if you have additional questions or concerns.
How do I know if I have a wrongful death case?
The first thing to consider is how the loss of life took place. In order to be successful in a wrongful death action the death must occur due to the wrongful acts or negligence of another party. Wrongful acts are perhaps the easier standard to meet. These acts include things like crimes, so a death that occurred as a result of an intentional murder or even a violent fight would qualify.
Negligence can be somewhat harder to define. There are clear cases of negligence where it is easy to see that a party could and should have acted to prevent a death. An example might be when a doctor makes a clear mistake during a surgical procedure that leads to the loss of life. Or when a driver decides to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated and causes a fatal accident.
But some instances of negligence are harder to prove. An example might include a car accident in which the owner of a vehicle failed to perform the maintenance or repairs needed to prevent an accident. Or a homeowner who failed to maintain proper safety measures to prevent serious harm to a guest. These cases require constructing a detailed legal argument.
Your relationship to the decedent matters
Not just anyone can file a wrongful death suit in the state of Texas. State laws outline that only a spouse, parent, or child can seek damages in a wrongful death action. One individual can file a lawsuit, or a group of surviving loved ones can take legal action together.
It is always best for families to work together to decide whether to seek damages for the loss of a loved one. In certain cases, however, not all family members will agree on the best course of action. Fortunately, not everyone has to share the same beliefs about how to proceed; family members can move forward with a wrongful death case regardless of the opinions of another party who also has a potential claim.
Timing is important in Texas wrongful death cases
It’s important to understand that your right to seek damages in a wrongful death case does not extend indefinitely. The statute of limitations for wrongful death in the state of Texas is two years from the date of death. If you wait too long to take action, your ability to seek damages may be limited.
Why move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit?
Just as no two individuals are ever exactly alike, no two people share the exact same motivations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In some cases the reasoning is practical, and family members are trying to recover some of the financial losses brought on by the death of their loved one. Damages awarded in a wrongful death case can help cover medical expenses, funeral costs, and even loss of future earnings.
For others, a wrongful death suit is an important step in processing the loss of a family member. This can be especially true if a company or other entity failed to take the steps needed to prevent a loss of life. Surviving loved ones often feel that their wrongful death suit can bring about meaningful changes in how a company or entity operates in the future, potentially saving other families from losing their loved ones.
At the end of the day, there is no wrong reason to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If you’ve lost someone and think that you might have a wrongful death case, reach out to a skilled attorney to learn more about your rights under the law. Wrongful death attorneys at the Hanna Law Firm are always here to answer questions about the specifics of your case and can guide you toward making a decision in line with your needs and goals. That process begins with a simple phone call, so don’t hesitate to connect with the office when you’re ready to learn more.