The death of a loved one leaves us in pain no matter when or how it happens. But when that loss occurs because of someone else’s negligence, you also have to live with the knowledge that your loved one’s death could have been avoided, which is a special kind of pain that only the surviving family members of wrongful death victims understand.
At Crosley Law, we help our clients begin the long process of healing after a wrongful death by demanding accountability and fair compensation for their financial losses and their emotional pain and suffering. While no amount of money can bring back a loved one or undo the emotional scars left by their passing, working with Crosley Law and filing a wrongful death claim can help you achieve a sense of justice and closure. And filing a claim can also let you tend to your grief and your family’s emotional needs without having to worry about medical bills, lost income, and other financial burdens.
Read on to learn more about who can file a wrongful death claim in Texas, how these claims work, and how Crosley Law can help walk you through this difficult time in your life.
“While no amount of money can bring back a loved one or undo the emotional scars left by their passing…filing a wrongful death claim can help you achieve a sense of justice and closure. “
What Kinds of Compensation Can I Receive From a Wrongful Death Claim?
Texas law defines a wrongful death as one that occurs because of another person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.” (The law means “default” as in “failure to fulfill an obligation,” like when we say someone defaulted on a loan.) Wrongful death claims can result from a wide variety of negligent actions, from medical malpractice to drunk driving to reckless behavior on the job.
To give survivors relief from the financial burdens that a wrongful death creates, the State of Texas allows those survivors to file wrongful death claims and receive damages, which are amounts of money intended to provide compensation for losses and injuries. The types and overall amount of damages you can receive by filing a claim will vary depending on your situation, but some of the most common types of wrongful death damages are based on:
- Lost earnings capacity from your loved one
- Lost inheritance, including the amount of money your loved one would have been able to save and leave your family
- Loss of companionship, care, and love
- Mental suffering due to your loss
- Loss of household services and support that your family member would have provided
Texas law also allows for another type of damages called exemplary or punitive damages. Unlike the types of damages listed above, punitive damages aren’t based on specific losses that the victim and their survivors suffered. Instead, these damages are intended to punish defendants for especially reckless or callous behavior and send a message that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated. Punitive damages are awarded solely at the court’s discretion, and there’s no way to determine whether they might be a factor in your claim without knowing the specific facts of your case.
You may be wondering how much compensation you could receive from a wrongful death claim. It’s a fair question, but because each wrongful death claim is unique and complex, it’s impossible to provide an estimate of your case’s value without knowing all the facts. Some factors that may influence the potential value of your case include the deceased person’s age, profession, earnings potential, and whether their actions contributed to their death.
RELATED SUCCESS STORY: Family Receives Maximum Settlement in Wrongful Death Case
To get an accurate and informed picture of your claim’s potential value, contact the team at Crosley Law so we can listen to your story, assess your case, and give you expert advice about your legal options.
Which Family Members Can File Wrongful Death Claims in Texas?
Texas law allows various family members to file wrongful death claims. Those surviving family members who may file a claim are called “statutory beneficiaries” in legal terms. Anyone who qualifies as a statutory beneficiary can file a claim on their own, or any number of the beneficiaries can file as a group.
The following surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one in Texas:
- The victim’s spouse
This category of beneficiaries includes spouses from both formal and common-law marriages, and it also includes spouses who are separated or in the process of finalizing a divorce when the death occurred. Same-sex spouses with a legal marriage certificate also fall in this category.
- The victim’s children
This category includes both biological and legally adopted children of any age. However, it does not include step-children unless they were legally adopted by the deceased. Note that if a child has been legally adopted, they may file a claim for the wrongful death of their adoptive parent, but not for the death of a biological parent.
- The victim’s parents
This category includes both biological and adoptive parents, but it doesn’t include foster parents. It also does not include step-parents unless they legally adopted the deceased person.
If your case is won at trial, the jury will typically determine how compensation should be distributed among family members, usually based on who was closest to the victim or who is most affected by the loss. Unfortunately, Texas law does not allow siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, fiancés, those in long-term committed relationships, or any other family members not named above to file a wrongful death claim.
If there are no statutory beneficiaries who can file a claim, or if the beneficiaries choose not to file, your loved one’s estate administrator can file a claim on their behalf after three months have passed from the date of death. You should also know that if a beneficiary dies before their wrongful death claim gets resolved, it’s not possible for another beneficiary to “pick up” the claim and begin where the deceased beneficiary left off. Any other surviving beneficiaries will have to file a new claim from scratch.
The rules about beneficiaries vary from state to state, so if you have questions about your eligibility to file in Texas, contact the Crosley Law team today.
Is There a Deadline to File My Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Texas law requires that you file your wrongful death lawsuit within two years of your loved one’s death. While there are a few exceptions to this rule, they’re relatively rare, and you should never count on them without advice from an attorney. After the two-year window expires, any chance of receiving fair compensation for your loved one’s death and holding the negligent parties accountable will be gone.
If you’re thinking about filing a claim, you should speak to an experienced attorney from the Crosley Law team as soon as possible. By contacting us right away, you can ensure our attorneys have enough time to conduct a thorough investigation and build the best possible claim.
Does Your Law Firm Offer Other Resources in San Antonio for Wrongful Death Victims?
After a loved one’s unexpected death, you might face other challenges. For example, your loved one might not have left a will. Or, you might find unexpected debts or struggle to identify all of their assets. Thankfully, there are organizations in San Antonio that can help.
RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Crosley Law Partners With Loss of Life Advocates
At Crosley Law, we offer all of our wrongful death clients two free hours of counseling with Loss of Life Advocates (LOLA). Its founder, Esther Cardenas-Pipoly suddenly lost her husband and struggled with her grief recovery. LOLA helps our wrongful death clients understand their needs and build a recovery plan that deals with the financial, emotional, and practical impact of a death. LOLA charges reasonable fees when clients who need additional counseling services.
Crosley Law: Fighting for Justice on Behalf of Wrongful Death Victims in Texas
If you’ve lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent behavior, the Crosley Law team is here to help. Our attorneys have years of experience handling complex wrongful death claims, and if we’re able to take your case, we’ll fight aggressively and tirelessly to get you the justice and compensation you deserve.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our wrongful death attorneys, please call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or fill out the contact form on this page. During your free consultation, we’ll listen to your story and advise you about your best path forward. Don’t let concerns about fees stop you from contacting us; our no-fee policy ensures you’ll never pay attorney’s fees unless we get you a settlement or win your case in court.
Wrongful death, 4 Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.001–71.012. Retrieved from https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/CP/htm/CP.71.htm
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.