The unexpected death of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is traumatic. It leaves grieving families with so many questions and so many decisions to make.
As you mourn, you may be wondering how you can hold the negligent party accountable for the tragic loss of your loved one and how your family can maintain your standard of living as you face unexpected bills due to your loved one’s death and your loved one’s loss of income.
The answer may be a wrongful death lawsuit. Before you file a wrongful death lawsuit, however, you need to know exactly how one works so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to file a case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Texas law allows the surviving children, spouse, or parents of a deceased person to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These relatives may file the case together, or one (or more) of the relatives may file the case on behalf of all of them. If a surviving child, spouse, or parent has not filed a wrongful death claim within three months of your loved one’s date of death, then the executor or administrator of your loved one’s estate may file the case unless all of the relatives who were eligible to file the case have advised the executor or administrator not to bring the case.
Where Do I File a Wrongful Death Case?
It is important to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the right type of court and in the right location. This is known as jurisdiction and venue, and it can be confusing. Typically, the type of court you file in will depend on the amount of money you are claiming in damages, and the location will either be the county where the wrongful death accident occurred or the county where the defendant lives or has their principal place of business. An experienced wrongful death trial lawyer can make sure your case is filed in the right place so it is not dismissed on a jurisdiction or venue technicality.
When Should I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Generally, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death case in Texas. However, it is important that you do not wait that long to take action. The faster you act, the more likely it is that reliable evidence will be available to help prove your claim. Additionally, the sooner you start a case, the sooner it will be over. For these reasons, it is important to talk to a wrongful death trial lawyer as soon as you can after your loved one’s death instead of waiting until the statute of limitations is about to expire.
Why Should I File a Wrongful Death Case?
There are two reasons to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Holding the person who caused your loved one’s death accountable. Even if a criminal case is pending against the person who caused your loved one’s death, a civil wrongful death case is another way to hold the person or business accountable for your loved one’s loss of life.
- Recovering financial damages. While you don’t want to profit from your loved one’s death, you do deserve to be compensated for your financial and emotional losses. Your compensation could cover medical bills your loved one incurred because of the accident prior to death, funeral costs, lost income, emotional anguish, loss of consortium, and other losses.
What Should I Expect When I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Once you begin a lawsuit by filing a formal complaint in court, the legal process will start. The defendant will answer your complaint, formal evidentiary requests may be made, and both parties may make motions to the court to attempt to resolve the case or limit certain issues. At the same time, insurance company settlement negotiations may be ongoing.