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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

How to File a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death in Texas

Death is the worst possible outcome in an accident. No matter what the circumstances of the event were, it's always a traumatic experience for family members and loved ones.

When another person's actions caused the death of a person, their surviving family members may file a wrongful death suit to seek compensation for their pain and suffering.

Wrongful death laws, however, vary depending on the state. Texas wrongful death claims have specific rules that are crucial to understand before suing the liable party.

This page covers Texas wrongful death laws and how victims can start to build their case with a professional attorney.

What Does Wrongful Death Entail?

What Does Wrongful Death Entail?

"Wrongful death" is a legal term. It happens when a person's wrongful act causes the death of someone else. Unlike personal injury claims, wrongful death ones will seek compensation for the surviving loved ones of the deceased person.

In Texas, every wrongful death case is a civil matter, not a criminal one. This means that those who want to seek criminal charges will have to start a separate legal case.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?

A Texas wrongful death lawsuit has specific requirements for those who want to file it. Three potential people can legally start their case:

  • Surviving spouse

  • Surviving parents

  • Children

These people have three months from the time the wrongful death occurred to file their claim without a third-party intervention. If this period passes, the deceased person's estate could seek compensatory damages too.

What's Needed to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Texas law establishes all the regulations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in its Civil Practice & Remedies Code (71.002).

Victims interested in seeking wrongful death damages must:

  • Show evidence that the person's death happened because of someone else's negligence or recklessness.

  • Prove that they have the legal right to file a claim in Texas.

  • Show that the person's death caused them to experience a financial loss.

The standard of proof in Texas is "preponderance of evidence." In other words, victims have to prove that their claim is "more likely than not." If the evidence is clear and persuasive, the victim could win the case and get compensated.

What does this mean for surviving family members? This is a "lighter" standard of proof compared to others like "beyond reasonable doubt," which requires victims to show enough evidence to establish that no reasonable person would have doubts about the defendant's guilt.

In this case, the victims could still win their wrongful death case even if the defendant is acquitted of a homicidal crime.

How to File a Texas Wrongful Death Claim

The process to file these cases is similar to a regular personal injury claim. In this scenario, however, the surviving family members are the ones responsible for starting the legal process and collecting evidence.

Here's an overview of how to file a lawsuit for wrongful death in Texas:

Gather Evidence

Simply put, victims must provide enough evidence to show:

  • How the person died

  • Who was liable for their death

  • What financial losses the family dealt with following the victim's death

Many pieces of evidence work in such a claim, including:

  • Death certificates

  • Medical records

  • Autopsies

  • Police reports

  • Pay stubs

  • Tax returns

  • Physical evidence related to the accident

It's crucial to gather evidence as soon as possible following the event. Otherwise, some of it may become harder to find later. For more information, wrongful death lawyers in Houston TX may be able to help.

Get Expert Testimony

Getting an expert to testify is an excellent way of proving the elements of negligence in wrongful death lawsuits. Depending on the case, victims can talk to accident deconstructionists, forensic engineers, economists, etc.

Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney

Going through a wrongful death claim during these challenging times is overwhelming. It's always better to leave the case in the hands of an expert attorney.

The professionals at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys specialize in wrongful death cases, among other types of claims in Texas. An attorney understands the legal intricacies related to a wrongful death case, allowing them to investigate it with a clearer mind and gather the necessary evidence.

Wrongful death attorneys can also file the claim on the family's behalf and negotiate with insurance companies if necessary. They are able to help with how to file a lawsuit for a dog bite in Texas as well.

Essentially, legal experts can help victims prove that the defendant owed the deceased person a duty of care, which they breached. They can also establish that the breach was what caused the person's death, and therefore, all the damages the family incurred.

How Much Time Do Victims Have to File Wrongful Death Claims in Texas?

The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim in Texas is two years. In other words, families have two years from the date of death to take legal action. Otherwise, they may lose their right to seek justice.

It's always better to take action as soon as possible. Wrongful death claims heavily rely on evidence to be successful. Waiting too long can cause some evidence to be lost or destroyed, which can seriously affect the case.

Talking to an attorney can help victims assess their options without much pressure. They can also advise on how to file a lawsuit for workers compensation in Texas.

How Much Are Wrongful Death Lawsuits Worth in Texas?

How Much Are Wrongful Death Lawsuits Worth in Texas?

There's no "cap" on compensatory damages for wrongful death lawsuits in Texas. This means that victims can get considerable compensation for their loved one's death, which can cover economic and non-economic damages.

Exemplary damages, however, have a limit. These are known as "punitive damages" in other jurisdictions.

The limit in Texas for these damages is $200,000 or two times the amount established for economic damages (up to $750,000), whichever is greater.

Some insurance companies may offer to settle before going to court, which could be convenient. However, not all companies have the family's best interest in mind, so they could offer a much lower amount than they were expecting.

Families should always get help from an attorney to determine whether the insurance company's offer is good. If not, they can take the case to court.

Wrapping Up

There are no words to describe how someone else's death can affect a person. It's not fair to deal with complicated legal matters on top of the grief of the surviving spouse or other family members.

While a lawsuit won't take away the pain of losing someone, it can bring peace of mind and financial coverage for unexpected expenses related to the accident.

Schuerger Shunnarah's Houston wrongful death attorneys are ready to "go to war" for their clients. Those interested in seeking legal help can schedule a free consultation today and start building a strong case that gets them justice.


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