When a loved one passes away, it is an emotional, difficult time for those close to them. Not only does a family have to deal with the loss, but they also often have to deal with all of the financial issues that come along with that loss. If a loved one died as a result of someone else’s actions, it can be particularly difficult to deal with all of these factors in the aftermath. However, the family always has the option of pursuing a wrongful death suit in order to address some of their financial concerns associated with the loss.
Under Texas law, an action for damages (compensation) arising from an injury that cause a person’s passing may be brought if there is a liable party (Texas Statute section 71.001). A person is liable for damages arising from an injury that caused loss of life if the injury was caused by the person’s negligent or careless act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. Those survivors of the deceased who are typically able to bring this action include the surviving spouse, children (including adult and/or adopted children), and parents; however, if they do not, the representative of the deceased’s estate may file a claim, as long as a surviving family member does not object.
A wrongful death claim is typically filed for financial damages but is separate from a criminal case filed by a prosecutor, although they can and are often filed simultaneously.Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Often times, claims arise from:
- Car accidents &/or truck accidents;
- Medical malpractice &/or prescription medication error;
- Workplace injuries, as well as
- Being the victim of (an intentional) crime.
Damages that are recoverable in a wrongful death claim can include:
- Lost companionship, comfort, and society;
- Lost care, services, support, and maintenance the family lost by losing their loved one;
- Any lost earning capacity of the deceased;
- Any emotional pain and suffering (typically determined by a jury); and
- Any lost inheritance, had the deceased lived a normal lifetime.
These factors are clearly affected by the particular circumstances of the case, such as the age and previous job compensation of the deceased, as well as the age of any children they left behind. These damages are also not subject to any debt left by the deceased, pursuant to Texas Law (section 71.011).
In addition, if the loss was caused by the willful act or omission, or gross negligence of the defendant, “exemplary” damages may be recovered in addition to actual damages. “Exemplary” damages refer to punitive damages—those that go beyond the necessary compensation in an effort to punish the defendant and deter that conduct in the future.Time Limitations
Any claim must be brought within two years of the date of the loss. In some circumstances, the time limitations may be extended, depending on who is involved and/or what caused the wrongful death (for example, extensions sometimes apply where minors and/or defective products are involved).
In addition, an executor or administrator of an estate can only bring a claim if none of the individual’s family members have brought a claim within three months after the loss of their loved one.What Is A Survival Action?
Texas law allows an estate, legal representative, or any heirs to bring a survival action, or a lawsuit that would have been brought had the person lived. This includes actions related to health, reputation, and wrongful death. The action not only survives deceased victim, but the defendant, if they pass away, and can be brought against their legal representatives.
How is this different from a wrongful death action? A wrongful death suit is typically only available to the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased, and allows them to recover for personal injuries versus the physical injuries sustained by the injured victim. These damages are also only available to surviving family members. However, it is entirely possible for two lawsuits (a survival and wrongful death lawsuit) to be brought for the same negligent or willful injuries action.Seek Advice from an Experienced Attorney
Although it is a difficult time to think about lawsuits after you have lost a loved one, it is crucial to seek advice from an experienced San Antonio wrongful death lawyer to guide you through the process if you are concerned about the circumstances surrounding your loss.
Having served San Antonio and Laredo for over 33 years, the Law Offices of Ronald A. Ramos are committed to serving individuals and families that have been injured or lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of someone else. We understand the value of personal service and our firm is dedicated to providing the highest standard of legal representation. Contact us today for a free consultation.Law Offices of Ronald A. Ramos, P.C.