Here are the most frequently asked questions we receive about wrongful death cases in Texas. If you still have any questions after reading the answers below, do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian for help.
Q: What Is the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case Involving a Death?
Criminal laws exist to punish a person for committing a crime that harms society and to deter similar conduct from other people. Because a person’s freedom is often at stake, the burden of proof in criminal cases is the highest. The prosecutor must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In contrast, a wrongful death claim can be filed even if a death was an accident, and the wrongdoer did not commit any crime. The burden of proof is lower at a “preponderance of the evidence,” so the victim’s family may be able to win a civil case easier than a criminal one. The purpose of this type of case is to provide financial compensation for the victim’s family’s losses.
Q: When Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Texas’ wrongful death law allows a victim’s surviving family members to seek financial compensation for the loss of a family member when the death is caused by a “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” by another person.
Common grounds for wrongful death cases in Texas include:
- Car accidents
- Drunk driving accidents
- Distracted driving accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Truck accidents
- Product liability
Q: Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Texas?
According to the Texas wrongful death statute, only the victim’s spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. Also, the executor or administrator of the victim’s estate can file an action on these individuals’ behalf.
Q: How Are Damages in a Wrongful Death Case Calculated?
Wrongful death damages include any financial or other losses you suffer because of your loved one’s death. You can calculate these by adding up losses such as:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost inheritance
- Loss of companionship, society, comfort, and love
- Lost maintenance, services, support, and advice
- Mental and emotional anguish
The jury determines how to split these damages among the surviving family members.
The amount of damages are different, case by case. A wrongful death attorney can give you a better idea about the potential value of your claim after talking with you about the details of your case.
Q: Are Punitive Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death Actions?
Punitive – or exemplary damages, as they are called in Texas – are meant to punish the wrongdoer for particularly bad behavior instead of to compensate the victim. These damages are available in cases where the harm is intentional or involves gross negligence.
Q: How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
You generally have two years from the victim’s death to file your Texas wrongful death lawsuit.
Q: How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help My Case?
A Houston wrongful death lawyer can investigate your case and determine if you have a legal basis to file a claim. They can also identify each and every person who can be held liable for your loved one’s death and help you seek compensation to ease some of the financial burden you may confront in the face of a sudden death of your loved one. A wrongful death attorney can handle communication with other parties and insurance companies so that you can focus on your grief and your family during this difficult time. Most importantly, a wrongful death lawyer can advocate for you and seek the justice you deserve.