Whenever people get behind the wheel and take to roads around Houston and anywhere else in Texas, they put their lives on the line. Not necessarily because they are no good at driving, but because others are negligent. Losing a loved one in a preventable accident can turn the lives of surviving family members upside down.
Along with dealing with the emotional trauma, coping with the unanticipated financial consequences could overwhelm you. However, the civil justice system of Texas allows the surviving family members the opportunity to recover monetary damages in a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party.
Do you have grounds to file a wrongful death claim?
You will need a reason that is legally supportable to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The intention of a civil suit is not to punish but to recover damages instead. For that reason, you must show that another party's negligence did not only cause loss of life but that it also had an adverse emotional and financial impact on you and other surviving family members.
Will you need legal counsel?
Pursuing a claim for financial relief after losing a loved one is a complicated field of the law, but help is available. An experienced wrongful death attorney can provide the necessary support and guidance along every step of the way and take care of the following:
- To present a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the lawyer will establish that your loved one's death was not due to his or her own fault but resulted from the other party's negligence.
- The lawyer will explain that surviving spouses and children of the deceased person can file wrongful death claims. Exceptions exist in which the court might allow grandparents, siblings or other extended family members to file.
- Legal counsel can also explain the requirement to open a probate estate, and that the court might appoint a guardian to protect the best interests of minor children.
What are the damages you can collect?
If your loved one's death resulted from the negligent, reckless or deliberate act of another party, you and other surviving family members could claim the following in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- If the death was not instant, you could claim all the medical expenses for the period that led up to the death of your loved one.
- You can claim the expenses related to end-of-life arrangements.
- You could also claim compensation for the pain and suffering you and the other surviving family members endured as a result of the wrongful death.
- If your loved one's death put an end to regular wage income, you can claim compensation for the estimated income he or she would have earned throughout his or her normal life expectancy.
- Some states allow claims for punitive damages as punishment in cases of gross negligence.
How long can you wait before filing?
If you have lost a loved one due to another party's negligence, it would be sensible to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Not only can legal counsel explain and protect your rights, but it can ensure that you file the lawsuit within the Texas statute of limitations. If you wait too long, you might not be allowed to pursue a claim for monetary damage recovery.