We expect to live into our seventies and beyond, and we expect the same for those we love. When death takes a loved one prematurely, it is always devastating. But when the death was entirely preventable, never should have happened, and was caused by someone’s negligent or careless act, it may be simply too much to bear. When a member of your family is taken without warning, and you are left with nothing but your grief, medical bills and funeral expenses, and perhaps even the loss of your family’s income, you may be overwhelmed with anger and sorrow and unsure of what to do next. A Dallas-Fort Worth wrongful death lawyer can help you through the entire legal process. Call us immediately if your family is suffering from a death caused by negligence.
Defining Wrongful Death
Any premature death for any reason is likely to feel “wrongful” to a bereaved family, but the term “wrongful death” has a specific legal meaning in Texas law: the death of a person caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or carelessness of another. Wrongful death may occur as a result of a traffic, premises, or workplace accident; medical malpractice; a defective product; a dangerous drug or medical device; or a deliberate violent act. A wrongful death entitles survivors of the deceased to bring a civil action and attempt to receive a financial verdict as compensation for the financial and emotional damages they’ve suffered.
Why You Should Pursue a Recovery
You may be feeling so overwhelmed with grief that you can’t face the thought of a legal action. It may seem impossible to place a dollar value on the loss of someone you love. It is normal to feel this way. When you turn to the lawyers at Samples Ames, you remove some of the burden from your shoulders, allowing a skilled, knowledgeable, and compassionate lawyer to assume the responsibility for the legal tasks, leaving you and your family the time you need to recover, grieve, and come to terms with your loss.
The lawyers of Samples Ames understand that no amount of money can compensate adequately for the loss of a human life and know how difficult it is to have to dwell on the death and focus on your loss when you are grieving. But there are important reasons to begin now to pursue a recovery for a wrongful death:
- Holding the person responsible for your loss helps you to achieve closure. With closure comes acceptance of what you can’t change, and the ability to move on.
- Achieving justice, and holding the wrongdoer accountable for the terrible suffering you and your family are going through. The loss of a human life is a terrible tragedy, and it is only right to do whatever you can to achieve justice. In some cases, criminal penalties may also apply, but they do nothing to help you and your family. That’s where a civil action can help.
- Help with your expenses and financial losses. If your family depended on the deceased person for financial support, you may be experiencing financial difficulties resulting from the loss of income. You may have incurred funeral expenses and final medical bills, if there was time between the injury and death. Financial worries only add to your emotional suffering. Compensation can help relieve your economic burden.
- Statutes of Limitations, or legal time limits under Texas law for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Although you may find it hard to face a legal action when you are grieving, if you don’t act now, you could lose your right to pursue a wrongful death recovery and hold the wrongdoer accountable to you and your family, because Texas restricts the amount of time you have to file a wrongful death action.
Damages That Can Be Recovered in a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit
These are some of the types of damages that Texas law allows surviving family members to claim in a wrongful death action:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Income and benefits that the deceased would have earned for the benefit of the family in the course of that person’s life expectancy
- Grief and mental anguish
- Loss of love, companionship, affection, support, and guidance
- The reasonable value of household services that the decedent would have provided
- Punitive damages as additional punishment for the defendant when the wrongdoing was exceptionally egregious and unconscionable, demonstrating a gross and blatant disregard for the life of your loved one.
Section 71.001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code provides guidance on what constitutes a wrongful death under Texas law and include wrongful acts, negligence and carelessness. Like other personal injury suits, a wrongful death suit must commence within two years of the date of death. However, if a spouse, child or parent has not filed a wrongful death suit within three months, the estate of the decedent may file a suit on behalf of the estate unless the immediate family members have specifically requested they not do so. The estate would then be responsible for distributing any award per the determination of the court.
In addition to the damages listed above that you may seek compensation for in wrongful death lawsuits, in some cases, the surviving family members may seek what is known as exemplary damages which would be awarded in the event death is a result of a willful act or gross negligence. At Samples Ames we understand that no amount of money will ever make up for the loss of a loved one. However, a financial settlement can help your family recover financially after such a devastating loss. Your expenses will continue in spite of the fact that one of the breadwinners in your family is no longer there to help pay the bills and the responsible person should be responsible for that financial loss. Call us today at (817) 605-1505 or (214) 308-6505 for a free case.