Deadly accidents on the roadways in North Texas occur daily. Most of these fatal accidents are preventable if not for a negligent act by another driver. We all hope to avoid receiving this kind of call from law enforcement. It’s the stuff of nightmares.
If you are facing the death of a loved one, you’re emotions are likely swirling between anguish, confusion, helplessness, anger, and shock.
The Dallas wrongful death lawyers at Varghese Summersett are here to help. We will fight for you to hold people and corporations accountable for the wrongful death of your loved one.
If your loved one is killed because of the negligence or wrongful act of someone, you may have a legal claim against the responsible party, including monetary damages for your losses.
In this post, our experienced Dallas wrongful death lawyers address commonly-asked questions about wrongful death lawsuits and explain how we can help you through this tough time. Remember, you are not alone.
What is a wrongful death in Texas?
A wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of someone else’s:
- wrongful act,
- unskillfulness, or
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Chapter 71, commonly called “Texas’ Wrongful Death Statute” or “Texas Wrongful Death Act,” defines the wrongful death laws. The statute allows survivors to file civil lawsuits against an individual, company, professional, or government agency responsible for their family member’s death.
What are the common causes of wrongful death claims in Texas?
Our Dallas wrongful death lawyer’s include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Traffic fatalities, including drunk or distracted driving;
- 18-wheeler fatalities;
- Motorcycle or bicycle fatalities;
- Auto-pedestrian fatalities;
- Boating fatalities;
- Train fatalities;
- Plane fatalities;
- Workplace fatalities;
- Construction site fatalities;
- Doctor or hospital malpractice;
- Jail or prison deaths;
- Industrial fatalities;
- Defective product deaths.
What’s the difference between personal injury and wrongful death suits?
A personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death suit are very similar, but with one huge difference: death. Personal injury lawsuits are civil claims filed by a victim against the negligent party who caused them injury in an accident.
Wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions brought by surviving family members after the death of a loved one.
In both, the plaintiff’s Dallas wrongful death lawyer must prove that the defendant’s wrongful act, negligence, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default led to the accident and resulting injuries or death.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas?
Under Texas’ Wrongful Death Statute Section 71.004, the only people who can pursue a wrongful death suit are the surviving spouse, children, or the parents of the deceased.
Each of these parties may file a claim together or individually.
If neither files a lawsuit within three months, a personal executor or the deceased’s estate administrator may file the suit unless family members specifically advised not to.
Can siblings file wrongful death lawsuits in Texas?
No, Texas law prevents siblings from filing wrongful death lawsuits. Siblings are not listed among the survivors who can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who are the parties in a Dallas wrongful death case?
The plaintiff is the person who files the lawsuit. The person or entity facing the claim is called a defendant.
How long do you have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Dallas?
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Texas is two years from the date of death.
If your claim isn’t filed within two years, you lose your legal right to bring that action. A Dallas wrongful death lawyer at Varghese Summersett can help you start the process.
How are wrongful death lawsuits resolved in Texas? Do I have to go to trial?
Typically, wrongful death lawsuits in Texas are resolved through negotiations and a settlement with the defendant’s insurance company.
Most Texas civil cases, including wrongful death claims, in fact, are settled out of court.
If a fair settlement can’t be reached, the case will go to trial.
The Varghese Summersett legal team will vigorously fight for compensation and justice for the victim’s family. If a trial is necessary, we’re more than ready.
Our Dallas wrongful death lawyers have a sterling record of success in and out of the courtroom on behalf of our clients. Our main goal is to win you the best possible outcome by doing everything in our power.
If a wrongful death case goes to trial in Texas, is it decided by a judge or jury?
Juries decide whether a defendant is liable for death, not the judge. Juries also decide how much money is awarded to the plaintiff.
The jury receives instructions and guidance from the judge based on Texas law.
How do you prove negligence in a Dallas wrongful death case?
Negligence is the basis for most wrongful death claims in Texas. Negligence occurs when a person or entity fails to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would under similar circumstances.
The plaintiff’s Dallas wrongful death lawyer must prove four elements of negligence for a jury to find negligence and award compensatory damages. The four elements are:
A legal duty of care was owed: The responsible party owed a duty of care to the deceased. For example, motorists have a duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner.
The duty of care was breached: The responsible party breached or violated the duty of care through some negligent act or omission. For example, a motorist drove under the influence.
The breach of duty caused injury or death: For example, a motorist drove intoxicated and caused a wreck in which someone died.
Monetary damages occurred: The plaintiff suffered quantifiable damages due to the death of their family member, including funeral or burial, medical expenses due, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What kind of damages are available in Texas wrongful death suits?
Two types of compensatory damages can be awarded in wrongful death lawsuits in Texas:
Economic damages: Damages meant to compensate a plaintiff for an actual monetary or pecuniary loss, such as funeral and burial expenses and lost earning capacity.
Non-economic damages: Damages with no specific monetary value but compensate a plaintiff for intangible losses, such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.
Your Dallas wrongful death lawyer will help navigate the specifics of your case.
What are pecuniary losses? How much is mental anguish worth?
Pecuniary Losses – Economic damage for the loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, and counsel that survivors would have received from the victim if they had lived.
Loss of Inheritance – Economic damage for the loss in value of assets that the victim would have likely added to the estate and left to the survivor in the event of natural death.
Mental Anguish – Non-economic damage for the survivor’s emotional pain, torment, and suffering caused by the death of a family member.
Loss of Companionship and Society – Non-economic damage for the positive benefits from the love, comfort, companionship, and society that the survivor would have received from the victim if they had lived.
Can punitive damages be awarded in a Dallas wrongful death case?
Possibly. A Dallas wrongful death lawyer could seek exemplary (or punitive) damages if the death was caused by a willful act or omission or gross negligence of the defendant.
Punitive damages are often awarded to punish or make an example out of a defendant in a wrongful death case. These damages are not intended to compensate the family for the expenses and loss of their loved one.
They are intended to send a message with the jury’s verdict and are usually found in particularly egregious cases.
Is there a cap amount on money that can be awarded in wrongful death cases?
The amount of money that can be awarded in Texas wrongful death cases depends on the type of case.
Medical malpractice and government organization cases have caps on the amount of damages available.
Our Dallas wrongful death lawyers will explain the types of damages available in your specific case.
Who decides how compensation is divided in Texas wrongful death cases?
If the case goes to trial, a jury decides how to divide the damages among the family.
Most commonly, jurors award the most compensation to the following:
- Surviving spouse;
- Minor children who lost a parent;
- Parents who lost a minor child.
How is wrongful death compensation divided out of court in Texas?
The adult beneficiaries decide how to divide the proceeds if the wrongful death case is settled out of court. If an agreement is impossible, your Dallas wrongful death lawyer will intervene to help fairly distribute the money based on previous cases under similar facts and circumstances where juries divided the award.
What happens if I accept a settlement offer in a Dallas wrongful death case?
In most cases, once you accept a settlement offer in a wrongful death case, it’s done.
Plaintiffs can’t ask for more money down the road if they realize the settlement wasn’t enough to cover all the damages. That means it’s very important to have an experienced Dallas wrongful death lawyer fighting for you at every step to ensure you receive proper compensation.
How are wrongful death lawsuits different than survival lawsuits?
In wrongful death suits, damages go directly to the surviving relatives. In a survival lawsuit, damages go to the deceased’s estate for later distribution but not directly to the surviving family.
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 71.004 governs the benefits for wrongful death. It gives the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, and parents a wrongful death cause of action for their own damages.
If the lawsuit is successful, the family members receive compensation for personal loss due to the death of their loved one, including medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of financial support, companionship, and guidance.
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 71.021 governs the survival death benefits.
It gives heirs, legal representatives, and the estate of the deceased a survival cause of action. This type of suit allows survivors to sue for pain and suffering incurred by the deceased after the accident but before they passed away.
In other words, survival claims are akin to a personal injury claim for the victim if they had lived.
In these claims, damages reflect the compensation the victim would have received if he or she had survived their injuries. These types of claims can be filed before death occurs. The compensation focuses on the losses of the deceased and is payable to their estate.
Wrongful death and survival actions are different types of legal recourse for negligence-based deaths. In some cases, both can be pursued.
The difference between the two can be complicated to understand, which makes it essential to consult a Dallas wrongful death lawyer. Our team will help you understand your legal options and which type of claim is right for your situation.
How do I know if I have a wrongful death case in Texas?
A Dallas wrongful death lawyer on our Varghese Summersett team will investigate the circumstances of your family member’s death and help you determine if it’s worthy of pursuing. If We will advise you on how to move forward if we believe you have a case.
How much will a Dallas wrongful death lawyer cost?
Our Dallas wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency basis. That means we don’t get paid unless you get paid.
If your claim is successful, we’ll collect a portion of the settlement or verdict. If we are not successful, you owe us nothing.
What are the advantages of a contingency fee agreement in Dallas wrongful death cases?
Hiring a Dallas wrongful death lawyer on a contingency basis comes at no cost to the client. Clients don’t have to worry about how they’ll pay a lawyer upfront.
Plus, it gives our attorney an incentive to get the best possible result for you because our success is directly related to the amount awarded.
What should I do if I’m considering filing a wrongful death suit in Dallas?
If you are considering a wrongful death claim, the first thing you should do is promptly contact one of our Dallas wrongful death lawyers. The sooner, the better. Our team will investigate the circumstances of the death to determine if you have a case. If you have a case, we will handle everything so that you can devote your focus to grieving and caring for yourself and your family.
How long does a Dallas wrongful death case take?
The duration of wrongful death cases depends on the complexities of the case, the number of defendants, and whether it goes to trial. Typically, a Dallas wrongful death case can take between a year and two years to resolve.
How long does it take to receive compensation after a Dallas wrongful death case is resolved?
Usually, it takes between six and eight weeks to receive compensation after a Dallas wrongful death case is resolved. However, the facts and circumstances can alter the timeline of a case.
How will a lawyer at Varghese Summersett work on my wrongful death case?
The Varghese Summersett wrongful death team will handle every aspect of your case, including investigating the accident, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, filing the lawsuit, and, if necessary, taking your case to trial.
How do I ensure my Dallas wrongful death case is successful?
There are a few important things you should do to improve the chances of success in your Dallas wrongful death case:
1. Hire us – Hire an experienced Dallas wrongful death lawyer at Varghese Summersett.
2. Cooperation – Cooperate with your lawyer and provide all the information and evidence necessary to build a strong case.
3. Understand the Journey – Wrongful death cases take time. Understanding that from the beginning will help your perspective on the progress. Your patience will be worth it.
FAQs: Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Dallas
A wrongful death claim is a legal action that can be filed by the family members or the estate of a deceased person when their death was caused by the negligence or misconduct of another party. The purpose of the claim is to seek compensation for the financial and emotional losses suffered by the deceased’s family.
In Texas, the following individuals can file a wrongful death claim:
The deceased’s surviving spouse
The deceased’s children (including adopted children)
The deceased’s parents (including adoptive parents)
Siblings and other relatives are not eligible to file a wrongful death claim in Texas. If the eligible family members do not file a claim within three months of the death, the personal representative or executor of the deceased’s estate can file the claim, unless a family member specifically requests them not to.
In Texas, a wrongful death claim must generally be filed within two years of the deceased’s death. There are some exceptions, such as when the claim involves a minor child, but it’s important to consult with an attorney to determine the specific time limit applicable to your case.
Damages in a wrongful death claim in Texas may include:
Loss of financial support, such as the deceased’s income and benefits
Loss of companionship, care, and guidance
Emotional pain and suffering
Medical expenses related to the deceased’s final illness or injury
Funeral and burial expenses
To prove a wrongful death claim in Texas, the plaintiff must establish that:
The defendant had a duty to the deceased (such as a duty of care in a car accident)
The defendant breached that duty (e.g., by driving negligently)
The breach of duty caused the deceased’s death
The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the death
Texas follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which means that a wrongful death claim can still be filed even if the deceased was partially at fault. However, the compensation awarded will be reduced in proportion to the deceased’s percentage of fault. If the deceased was more than 50% at fault, the family may not be able to recover any compensation.
Remember, it’s important to consult with a qualified wrongful death attorney in Dallas to discuss the specifics of your case and receive personalized legal advice.
Did your loved one die needlessly? Talk to a Dallas wrongful death lawyer today.
If you have experienced the unexpected death of a loved one, your grief is probably unbearable.
Grief, however, is not the only emotion you’re likely feeling if your family member was killed by an act of negligence. You’re probably feeling angry, frustrated, and helpless.
We can help. Varghese Summersett’s Dallas wrongful death lawyers will fight for you and your family and seek justice and compensation.