In Texas, wrongful death and survival cases are two distinct types of legal actions that can be pursued when someone dies due to the fault of another party. Wrongful death and survival actions involve different legal principles. Some critical differences between wrongful death and survival cases in Texas are their purpose, the parties permitted to bring each type of claim, and the damages available for each claim.
The legal landscape of a wrongful death or survival lawsuit in Texas can be complex and challenging. Understanding the intricacies of Texas laws is crucial for anyone seeking compensation for losing a loved one due to someone else’s wrongful conduct. Let’s look at the key aspects of Texas wrongful death and survival lawsuits and shed light on the differences between the two types of cases.
Wrongful Death in Texas
In Texas, wrongful death occurs when an injury causes a person’s death or a fetus’s failure to be born alive. The injury results from another person’s or entity’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default,” and the injured person would have been entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit had they lived or been born alive. Its primary purpose is to compensate the family for their losses and damages resulting from the death of their loved one.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
Under Texas law, a surviving spouse, the deceased children, and parents can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Any one of these parties can file a lawsuit for all eligible survivors. If the surviving spouse, the deceased children, or parents do not initiate the wrongful death claim within three months of the deceased person’s death. In that case, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate must do so unless the surviving spouse, the deceased children, and parents explicitly request otherwise.
Proving Liability in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Proving liability in a Texas wrongful death lawsuit is similar to personal injury claims. The plaintiff must demonstrate, by a “preponderance of the evidence,” that the plaintiff has presented the greater weight of credible evidence in the case. An easy way to remember this is that you must prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s actions caused the death.
Damages for Wrongful Death Lawsuits
In a Texas wrongful death case, jurors can award damages to survivors for their losses resulting from the death. These damages may include:
- Pecuniary losses (past and future), meaning the loss of the care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, and reasonable contributions of a monetary value, the wrongful death beneficiaries would have received from the deceased had he lived;
- Loss of companionship and society (past and future);
- Mental anguish (past and future),
- Loss of inheritance, and
- Exemplary damages (in cases of willful acts or gross negligence), which are sometimes referred to as punitive damages, are intended to punish the wrongdoer and discourage similar conduct in the future.
Damages recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit are not subject some debts of the deceased.
Time Limit for Filing a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In Texas, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the person’s death. Failing to meet this deadline can result in losing the ability to bring the claim.
What is a Survival Action Compared to a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A survival action in Texas allows the plaintiffs to recover damages that the deceased person would have been entitled to had they survived the injury or incident that led to their death. Essentially, it is a personal injury lawsuit that “survives” the individual’s death and continues their legal claims.
Who Can Bring a Survival Action?
The injured person’s legal heirs, legal representatives, and estate can bring a survival action.
Proving Liability in a Survival Actions
The standard of proof for survival actions is the same as in wrongful death cases—a “preponderance of the evidence.”
What Damages are Available in Survival Actions
In survival actions, damages may include:
- Pain and mental anguish experienced by the deceased before their death due to the defendant’s negligence.
- Medical expenses for necessary treatment incurred before your loved one died.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Exemplary damages (punitive damages) in cases of gross negligence or willful acts.
Consult a Dedicated Wrongful Death and Survival Action Attorney Today
Navigating Texas wrongful death and survival actions requires a deep understanding of the legal intricacies involved. Given the complexity and potential challenges these cases pose, it is recommended that you seek the assistance of an experienced Texas personal injury attorney. The Law Office of Shane McClelland can provide the guidance and representation needed to pursue just compensation for losing a loved one and ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.
You do not have to navigate the complex legal waters of a wrongful death or survival action alone. Dealing with the aftermath of your family member’s death is difficult enough without adding the burden of trying to recover for your legal damages. With the help of a dedicated and compassionate attorney, you are giving yourself the best possible chance at success when filing your claim and recovering compensation for your losses. Get the representation you deserve today with the help of the Law Office of Shane McClelland. Call us at (713) 987-7107 or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation.