The term “wrongful death” means that a person’s death was due to another party’s negligence, and these claims can be filed against another individual, group, or company. Wrongful death claims are commonly filed as a result of an accident, but may also include criminal acts, work-related negligence, and professional negligence.
Dallas-Fort Worth Wrongful Death Attorney
A wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of another person’s illegal conduct or negligence. It can be a result of an auto or trucking accident, homicide, defective products, negligence (such as careless driving), on-the-job accidents, gas or refinery explosions and assault. In such cases, surviving family members may be eligible for compensation under Texas law. If you have lost a family member as the result of someone else’s willful or negligent behavior, contact a Dallas wrongful death attorney at Law Office of Jay J. Murray, P.C. today.
Jay J. Murray is located in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Murray will advise you whether a case can be brought on behalf of you and your family to seek monetary damages for your loss. Wrongful death lawsuits protect the rights of children who have wrongfully lost a parent, wives who have wrongfully lost a husband, and parents who have wrongfully lost a child. Damages can be recovered for funeral expenses, loss of companionship and love and/or for loss of financial support. If you have experienced loss of this kind due to the wrongful death of a loved one and are in need of an attorney, our lawyers would be pleased to offer you a free consultation. At The Law Office of Jay J. Murray, P.C. serves grieving families across the entire state of Texas and beyond. As experienced Texas wrongful death lawyers, we can help your family uncover the facts about how and why your loved one died. Knowing the truth can be of comfort to a family and is an important step in evaluating a wrongful death case.
If you believe a loved one was the victim of a wrongful death and you intend to file suit, arming yourself with information on wrongful death claims is imperative. Wrongful death claims arise when the death of an individual is believed to be caused by the conduct of another.
The Following Wrongful Death Quick Facts and FAQ’s May Be Helpful:
In a wrongful death claim, suit is filed by the family members or estate of the individual who died, legally known as the decedent. See “Who can file a wrongful death suit?” for information on your qualifications to file.
Can Siblings File a Wrongful Death Suit? In the state of Texas, siblings of the decedent do not have the right to bring a lawsuit. For reference, see Castillo v. Hidalgo County Water District, 771 S.W.2d 633 (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi 1989).
Wrongful Death Claims by an Estate
Texas law dictates that if the surviving spouse, child/children, or parent/guardian does not file a wrongful death suit within three months after the decedent’s death, his executor or administrator may file suit – with the exception that the estate was forbidden by the surviving spouse, child/children, or parent/guardian to do so.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas
If you wish to file a wrongful death suit in Texas, you will need to prove that:
- The defendant caused your loved one’s death by a wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. Or (see below):
- That the defendant is a (a) proprietor, owner, charterer, or hirer of an industrial or public utility plant or of a railroad, street railway, steamboat, stagecoach, or other vehicle for transportation of goods or passengers; and (b) The injury was caused by the person’s or his agent’s or servant’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness. Or (see below):
- That the defendant is a (a) receiver, trustee, or other person in charge of or in control of a railroad, street railway, steamboat, stagecoach, or other vehicle for the transportation of goods or passengers, of an industrial or public utility plant, or of other machinery; and (b) The injury was caused by the person’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or bold or unsafe condition under the person’s control or operation. Or (see below):
- That the defendant is a (a) receiver, trustee, or other person in charge of or in control of a railroad, street railway, steamboat, stagecoach, or other vehicle for the transportation of goods or passengers, of an industrial or utility plant, or of other machinery; and (b) The action could have been brought against the owner of the railroad, street railway, or other machinery if he had been acting as operator.
A Wrongful Death Claim is Brought in a Civil Action as Enumerated by Statute.
A wrongful death claim is intended to recover damages for the emotional and financial injuries that the surviving family and/or estate have suffered due to the death of the victim – however, this does not include damages that are personal to the decedent.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
In the state of Texas, there is a legal distinction between persons who can file a wrongful death suit and persons who are beneficiaries. Those who can file a wrongful death claim are strictly limited to the decedent’s: • Surviving spouse • Child or multiple children • Parent or legal guardian
Damages for Wrongful Death
Seeking wrongful death damages cannot remove the pain of losing a loved one; however, any compensation that you are awarded can help alleviate the undue financial burdens that often result. What types of wrongful death damages can one claim? Some losses are measurable, while others are more general. Both can result in potential recovery. If you intend to file a wrongful death suit, a working knowledge of damages can help you formulate your case against the defendant. These damages include: Direct Expenses: Medical bills, funeral costs, and other expenses directly related to the death. Loss of Benefits: Amount of pension/retirement benefits the decedent would have incurred. Loss of Future Earnings: Salary earnings the decedent would have incurred. Loss of Companionship: Connected to mental pain and suffering on the part of the decedent’s family. Punitive Damages: Money awarded against the defendant’s punishment for the action leading to the victim’s death.
Amount of Damages
Some states place a cap on wrongful death damage recovery; fortunately, Texas law allows plaintiffs to recover damages to the extent a jury finds it fair and just in relation to the injury that resulted from the decedent’s death. However, calculating damages is a complex process that involves a variety of factors. Some of the most notable factors in calculating wrongful death damages include the:
- Amount of dependency between plaintiff and decedent
- Nature of the plaintiff’s relationship with the decedent
- Anticipated lifespan of the decedent
- Anticipated future earnings and other benefits of the decedent.
Death in the Workplace
A loved one dying at work is no doubt a painful reality for anyone to accept; and typically, it’s understandable why one would elect to litigate. However, it’s important to know the parameters of your rights. Whether or not you can file suit against your loved one’s workplace largely depends on the circumstances under which the death occurred – which makes immediately consulting with experienced legal counsel all the more pressing. For quick facts regarding injury and death in the workplace, some brief information follows:
Under the Texas’ Workmen’s Compensation Act, injuries incurred by an employee who elects to take workmen’s compensation cannot be sued over. They may, however, sue for damages under common law. For reference, see Texas Worker’s Compensation Commission V. Garcia, 893 S.W.2d 504 (1994). If the employee was left incapacitated, comatose, or with another condition that could reasonably become fatal, his/her dependents should contact an attorney to determine whether these conditions constitute “injury.”
Death in the workplace is an entirely different matter. If an employee’s death is proven to be caused by third party negligence (for example, negligence of the employer), Texas workmen’s compensation statute allows the employee’s dependents to pursue a wrongful death suit against the third party – regardless of whether the decedent elected for workmen’s compensation through his employer. Texas Lab. Code § 417.001.
If you are reading this section and have experienced a death in your family, our thoughts and prayers are with you. The death of a family member is a very difficult event, and we will do all we can to help take care of the necessary legal actions that will occur. If your family member’s death was caused by a wrongful act of someone or some company, the law states that compensation should be paid to help lessen the burden of the effects of the death. Listed below are the types of compensation that can be recovered by the estate of the deceased or by the particular family member.The estate of the deceased can recover what is known as survival damages as follows, which will be passed on to the heirs of the estate: • Conscious physical pain, suffering, and mental anguish endured by the deceased prior to his/her death • Medical, funeral, and burial expenses • Exemplary damages if there was grossly negligent or willful conduct
The surviving spouse can recover what is known as his/her wrongful death damages as follows:
• Mental anguish • Pecuniary (financial) losses • Loss of advice and counsel • Loss of household and domestic services • Loss of maintenance, support, and contributions of financial value • Loss of inheritance • Funeral and burial expenses • Loss of consortium • Loss of companionship and society • Bystander damages if the spouse witnessed the event • Exemplary damages if there was grossly negligent or willful conduct
The children of the deceased can recover their wrongful death damages as follows:
• Mental anguish • Pecuniary (financial) loss • Loss of advice and counsel • Loss of household and domestic services • Loss of the monetary value of nurture, care, education, and guidance • Loss of maintenance, support, and reasonable contributions of pecuniary value • Loss of inheritance • Loss of consortium • Loss of companionship and society • Bystander damages if the child witnessed the event • Exemplary damages if there was grossly negligent or willful conduct
The parents of the deceased can recover his/her wrongful death damages as follows:
• Mental anguish • Pecuniary (financial) losses • Loss of advice and counsel • Loss of household and domestic services • Loss of maintenance, support, and reasonable contributions of pecuniary value • Loss of consortium • Loss of companionship and society • Bystander damages if the parent witnessed the event Given that the stakes are so high in a case involving death, insurance companies dispatch their adjusters, investigators, and attorneys to begin work on the case within minutes or hours of the event. Their sole goal is to develop evidence that they can use to reject paying compensation for the death. Therefore, it is extremely important for us to quickly secure the evidence, obtain witness affidavits, take photographs, download black box data, have an accident reconstruction engineer reconstruct the accident, and send out letters to safeguard against the destruction or modification of any of the vehicles or other evidence. After the initial evidence is obtained, it is also likely that we will hire an economist to develop an economic model to calculate the dollar amount of financial loss the family will incur due to the death.
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