When a person is killed as a result of the carelessness of others, their surviving family members are entitled to compensation. Texas law allows family members and loved ones to recover for their monetary losses, like medical bills and lost wages, but also for their emotional losses, like grief and loss of companionship. If you have lost a family member due to the neglect or carelessness of another person, you should consider whether you have a wrongful death case.
Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer in San Antonio?
If a loved one or family member has died due to the carelessness of another person, you may have a wrongful death case. Discuss your situation with an experienced San Antonio wrongful death attorney to learn more about your rights and your options.
Here are some of the most common causes of wrongful death cases:
Even if there is a law enforcement investigation and a case for a criminal trial, you can still pursue a wrongful death claim. A criminal trial holds a person accountable for breaking the law, and a guilty party may be penalized by the government. A criminal case can result in fines, imprisonment, and other penalties.
But a criminal case does not help loved ones recover from their personal losses. Fines and fees paid in a criminal case are not returned to the family; a wrongful death lawsuit is a separate process that holds the guilty person financially accountable for their negligence and helps loved ones ease the pain of their damages as a result of the death.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in San Antonio?
Wrongful death cases consist of four equally important parts. Without all these elements, you cannot prove a wrongful death claim. The four components of a wrongful death case are:
We all have a responsibility to act with reasonable care to avoid harming others. Negligence is someone’s failure to take reasonable care to prevent an accident or injury. When death is caused by a deliberate act, the intent to do harm can substitute for negligence. The specific negligent act depends on the circumstances of your case, but some common examples of negligence include:
Hazardous workplace conditions or practices. Employers are required to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees and to provide adequate safety training and equipment. If a loved one was injured or killed in a workplace accident, you may have cause for a worker’s compensation claim or a wrongful death claim.
Medical mistreatment or misdiagnosis. Medical staff have a duty to use their training and experience to treat diseases and conditions according to community standards, seek to cure or alleviate ailments, and avoid doing harm. If your loved one suffered due to a delayed or missed diagnosis, lack of appropriate care or treatment, or medication or surgical errors, you may have a wrongful death claim.
Faulty or defective products. Manufacturers are required to ensure that products work as advertised and that safety precautions and instructions are provided to avoid harm or injury. If a product resulted in injury or death due to a defect, the manufacturer may be held accountable.
The Death of a Person
Obviously, a wrongful death claim requires that a person die as a result of negligence. If a person is injured, they can recover their damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
The death must be the direct result of the negligence of the other party. For example, if a driver fails to stop at a stop sign and hits and kills a motorcyclist, they have caused the death. If a doctor makes a medication error in a terminally ill patient, the negligence may not be the direct cause of the death.
Finally, the death must result in substantial losses in order to justify the lawsuit. These losses may be emotional and do not have to be financial losses. For example, a parent can sue for the wrongful death of a minor child, even though the child did not contribute financially to the household.
Because every individual situation is different, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced San Antonio wrongful death lawyer in order to understand your rights.
What Damages Can Be Recovered?
You are entitled to recover economic and non-economic damages in a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. Some of the possible damages you may recover include:
Loss of household income and loss of future earning capacity
Lost inheritance if the deceased person may have acquired more of an estate if they had lived longer
Lost care, services, advice, and support that the deceased person would have provided to their family
Lost love, companionship, and comfort that the deceased person would have provided for their family
Mental and emotional pain and suffering as a result of the death
The cost of mental health and emotional therapies and support for surviving family members
Sometimes, if a case involves gross negligence, a judge may also award punitive damages. Punitive damages are not designed to compensate the family for their loss but are an additional amount intended to punish the negligent party and to set an example that will deter others from the same behavior.
What is the Difference Between Wrongful Death and a Survival Action?
In the case of death due to negligence, Texas law allows family members to pursue both a wrongful death claim and a survival action. Survival action suits and wrongful death suits are separate actions that can be pursued for two different types of damages.
A survival action is a claim that a person would have had if they had lived: their personal injury claim ‘survives’ their death and can be pursued by family members or the executor of their estate. A survival action allows loved ones to sue for damages related to the injury and death, including:
The cost of any medical care and therapies received before death
The costs of the loved one’s pain and suffering before their death
Lost wages during the time that the person was injured and unable to work
Funeral and burial costs
A survival action should be filed and pursued by heirs or executors of an estate. If a person initiated a personal injury claim before their death, it can be continued as a survival action by their heirs or executor. The survival action claim is intended to recover the losses of the injured person before they die and make their estate whole.
If your deceased loved one had already initiated a personal injury case, the personal injury case can simply be converted to a survival action and proceed. However, every case is unique, and it is important to consult with a wrongful death attorney in San Antonio as soon as possible in order to determine whether you have a case.
Do I Have a Wrongful Death Case?
Not everyone can bring a survival action suit, and not everyone can bring a wrongful death case. A wrongful death case can be brought by the surviving spouse, children, parents, or by the executor of the estate. In many instances, the same people can pursue both a wrongful death claim and a survival action. However, if you are the unmarried partner of the decedent, a step-child or step-parent where there was no legal adoption, or in some other type of relationship with the decedent, it is best to have your case reviewed by a San Antonio wrongful death lawyer to see if you can bring a case.
While it is normal to take time to grieve and recover from the loss of a loved one, Texas law only allows two years in which to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In some cases, it is also beneficial to collect evidence and pursue your action quickly in order to build a strong case. Although there are some exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations, speaking with a lawyer sooner rather than later will benefit your case.
Contact Aaron Allison for a Free Consultation
The family-owned Law Offices of Aaron Allison have been pursuing justice for the people of Texas since 1978. We are proud to fight for the rights of the bereaved and hold negligent parties accountable for their carelessness. If you have lost a family member due to the negligence of someone else, we offer free consultations to help you understand your rights. Contact us today or call 512-474-8346 for your free consultation.
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Aaron Allison has lived in Austin his entire life. He understands how the legal system works here. Instead of trying to navigate it yourself, trust a personal injury lawyer with decades of experience handling cases like yours. We hold negligent individuals, companies and employers accountable when they cause serious injuries or fatal accidents, and we do everything we can for you and your family. Schedule a free consultation with us.