No amount of compensation can replace the loss of a loved one. However, should family members suffer emotional or financial hardship as a result of wrongful death, we at Patterson Law Group would like to hear your story.
Wrongful death attorneys help demonstrate the financial and personal loss suffered by family members following the death of a loved one. But we understand there’s more to a wrongful death claim than monetary gain. We’re dedicated to understanding your story and your family, so in addition to providing legal counsel, we’re able to help families find their footing during these extremely difficult times.
- Defining wrongful death in Texas
- Collecting damages
- How Patterson Law Group can help
- Wrongful death FAQs
Defining Wrongful Death in Texas
Wrongful death is a circumstance caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another. When a person is killed in an accident, surviving family members may be eligible to file a lawsuit to compensate financial or personal hardship. A wrongful death lawyer in Texas takes action on behalf of the family, apprising them of their rights, and aiding in various legal challenges.
A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by surviving family members including spouse, children, or parents of the deceased. In Texas, adult children, and adopted children, may file a wrongful death claim over the loss of a parent. Additionally, a representative, or executor, of the deceased person’s estate may also file if the surviving family members do not raise a claim in time.
Our job at Patterson Law Group is to prove the defendant’s behavior resulted in wrongful death, and to illustrate to a judge and jury that financial or emotional hardship has been suffered. While we work together, we encourage you to spend more time with your family and less time worrying over legal fees—we don’t get paid until you win your case.
What Are The Different Types Of Wrongful Death?
There are many kinds of wrongful death. In some cases, the person who causes the wrongful death did it willfully, but most cases involve the death arising out of negligence.
Below are some of the most common types of activities from which a wrongful death claim arises:
- Car Accidents. Car accidents are one of the most common causes of death in the United States. In Texas, there were three 294 fatal crashes in 2019. In most crashes, at least one of the drivers was negligent. Distracted driving, drunk driving, and speeding are common causes of car accidents. Sometimes, accidents can be caused by road problems or car malfunctions as well. In those cases, the state or manufacturer could be held liable for negligence instead of a driver.
- Work accidents. Work accidents are fairly standard in manual labor jobs like construction. Machinery malfunctions or environmental dangers often cause them. The negligence of a manager could cause some wrongful deaths. For example, if a person was forced to work too many hours and got in a wreck due to exhaustion, a manager or workplace could be held liable for the accident.
- Semi-Truck accidents. In 2018, at least 5,096 large trucks and buses were in fatal accidents. The huge size of semi-trucks means that damage from semi-truck accidents is usually catastrophic. In addition, while many accidents are caused by driver negligence, there are many other common reasons for semi-truck accidents. For example, poor manufacturing or overloading a semi could also cause a crash, making the manufacturer or trucking company liable.
- Aviation accidents. Aviation accidents are much rarer than car accidents, but they almost always result in fatalities. As in most accidents, an aviation crash could be caused by pilot error or manufacturer error.
- Pedestrian accidents. Pedestrian accidents are usually the result of a negligent driver hitting a pedestrian trying to cross the road. Fatalities are common because pedestrians have no protection from large cars.
- Defective product accidents. In some cases, accidents are caused because manufacturers did not properly test a product. Fatalities are commonly caused by faulty manufacturing in vehicles, children’s toys, pharmaceutical products, or even foods.
- Medical malpractice accidents. If a doctor or other medical provider makes a mistake that results in death, they could be held liable for wrongful death. Common mistakes they often make might include failing to diagnose or not following proper procedures.
How Much Can You Get For A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The amount you can get in a wrongful death case depends on a lot of factors. It is often a high amount because placing a price on death is really not possible. In Texas in 2019, the highest wrongful death cases won jury verdicts up to $36,240,000.00.
In most cases, wrongful death damages are awarded to help pay:
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income and earning capacity
- Punitive damages (in some cases, especially where a person caused the death through gross negligence or willful wrong action)
A wrongful death suit may be brought by a surviving parent, child, or spouse in Texas. Those who have lost the support and relationship of their loved ones deserve to be compensated in some small way.
Statute of Limitation on Wrongful Death Claims in Texas
Time limitations for wrongful death claims exist in Texas. Currently, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is 2 years after the date of the death. There are some exceptions to this rule, but know that time is not on your side should you, or a family member, suspect wrongful death of a loved one. As long as the claim is filed within these limitations, surviving family members or the deceased person’s estate may collect damages that stem from an untimely death.
Who Is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when their death is due to the negligence of another party. However, family members have the opportunity to pursue justice through a wrongful death lawsuit, although there are limitations regarding who can file in Texas.
To have standing to pursue this type of legal action, you must be a surviving relative of the deceased.
The parties who can file a wrongful death lawsuit includes the following:
- A surviving spouse
- Surviving children (adult or minor)
- Surviving parents or adoptive parents
It is worth noting that surviving children include biological or adoptive children. An adopted child has the right to file this action on behalf of an adoptive parent but not a biological parent. In addition, siblings may not file, whether biological or adopted.
There are also circumstances where the surviving relatives cannot or will not file a wrongful death action. In these cases, it falls to the estate to seek justice. A personal representative of the estate has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit once three months have passed, as long as a relative does not object.
What if multiple parties wish to file?
It is not uncommon for two or more surviving family members to pursue a wrongful death action. Each person entitled to recover compensation has a right to file their own lawsuit regardless of what other parties do. In this situation, the at-fault party could be required to defend these lawsuits if the court does not opt to hear them together.
There is also the opportunity for plaintiffs to join together and file a single lawsuit. It is a good way to save on legal fees and reduce the chances of delay. Whether or not plaintiffs choose to file together is entirely their decision.
Finally, if you are entitled to pursue legal action, it is essential you never do so alone. Handling your own case without legal representation could put your recovery at risk.
How Hard Is It To Prove Wrongful Death?
There are four things you have to prove to prove that a wrongful death occurred:
- That the defendant had a duty of care to the person who died
- That the defendant breached their duty of care in a negligent manner
- That the breach of duty caused the death to occur
- That the death led to significant damages to the family left behind after the death
If you can prove these four things, then you will have a viable wrongful death case. It’s simple: you must make it evident that someone acted negligently when they were supposed to be taking care of your loved one. To help your case, you will need to have some evidence.
If you were at the accident scene, retrieve security, or video footage, try to take photos of the injuries and damage. Take any witness statements you can and keep contact information from the witnesses. You will also want to have medical records, a coroner’s report if there was one, and any record of the accident.
To have a successful wrongful death case, you will likely need to hire a personal injury attorney. Gathering all the evidence can be challenging, and there will be plenty of insurance companies, and other lawyers involved that must be dealt with. Personal injury lawyers have the expertise needed to deal with such stresses and help you get what you deserve.
Wrongful Death Attorneys in Texas
There’s no greater loss than the loss of a loved one, and compensation is hardly meaningful when such great sorrow is felt. Know that we’re here to help when and if you need us. We’ve helped surviving families of wrongful death victims achieve financial stability, and peace of mind, through hard work and trusted professional experience. Below is a review from one of our recent clients,
We take wrongful death cases very seriously, and we want to hear your story. Contact Patterson Law Group today at 817-784-2000, or fill out the form on this page and we’ll get in touch with you right away.
Wrongful Death FAQs
Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit for the death of an unborn child?
Yes, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit for the death of an unborn child. Unlike many states, Texas specifically includes unborn children in its wrongful death statute. Regardless of whether the pregnancy is a few weeks along or a few days from delivery, your unborn child will be treated the same in the eyes of the law.
Can I still pursue a wrongful death case if the deceased individual never held a job?
Yes, there is more than one way to contribute in a family. Even if the deceased individual never held a job, they may have contributed services, nurturing, or guidance for the family. The loss of such contributions can still warrant compensation.
How are damages divided in cases with multiple heirs?
In cases with multiple heirs, the level of loss experienced by each family member will determine the amount of compensation each member receives. Each heir will be responsible for showing the court the level of involvement they had in the decedent’s life. Heirs will need to prove how they lost guidance, moral support, friendship, and other aspects of a close relationship.
Can heirs hire separate attorneys?
Yes, heirs can hire separate attorneys. In cases where there are multiple heirs, separate attorneys can ensure each heir has proper representation focused on their individual situation.
Can Grandparents recover in wrongful death cases in Texas?
Unfortunately, grandparents cannot recover anything in wrongful death cases. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings are all prohibited from filing wrongful death claims in Texas.
What are the deadliest intersections in Fort Worth, Texas?
Knowledge of which intersections have the highest accident rates puts more vigilant drivers on our streets, in turn keeping our loved ones safer. Analyzing the 40,000 accidents over the past 6 years in Fort Worth, we built an interactive map detailing the intersections with the most traffic collisions.