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What are the elements of a wrongful death claim in Texas?

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2023 | Wrongful Death

A large number of fatal auto accidents occur each year nationwide. When someone dies in an accident, the loved ones of the deceased may file a claim for wrongful death against the parties they find to be at fault for their loved one’s death.

Only certain parties can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, including:

  • The decedent’s spouse, children, and parents.
  • The personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate.

In Texas, if the decedent’s family does not file suit within a period of three months from the date of the decedent’s passing away, the personal representative may file the lawsuit. Generally, suit must be filed within two years from the date of the decedent’s death.

Proving wrongful death

Most wrongful death claims require family members to show that their loved one is dead because of the negligent actions of another person or party. Negligence is established by showing that the other party:

  • Breached a duty of care owed to the decedent (e.g., a driver drove recklessly by failing to abide by the posted speed limit).
  • Caused the accident and the decedent’s death by breaching this duty (e.g., the driver could not stop because of her speed and struck the decedent’s vehicle).
  • Caused the loved ones of the decedent to suffer damages.

What damages are recoverable in a wrongful death case?

Generally, wrongful death damages cover any losses, financial or otherwise, that surviving family members may have suffered due to the loss of their loved one. Some of these losses may include:

  • Burial and funeral costs.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Lost wages.
  • Loss of household services.
  • Loss of companionship.

It can be difficult to determine who is at fault for a fatal accident, especially when multiple parties are involved. Sometimes the decedent’s own negligence may have played a role in their own accident and death. In some tort litigation cases, the court may reduce the family’s award based on the percentage of fault attributed to the decedent.