Losing a loved one in Texas is one of the hardest things for families to endure. Preventable death due to negligence or reckless behavior often adds another layer of complexity to the grieving process.
That’s why wrongful death laws were put into place. They seek to hold the culprit accountable and provide some closure to families.
What does wrongful death mean?
In legal terms, a wrongful death is defined as any death that results from the negligence or misconduct of another. It can be as simple as a nurse giving a patient incorrect medication or as complicated as determining who was at fault after a multi-vehicle accident.
In the first case, wrongful death could be determined if the caregiver was negligent in reading the patient’s chart or administering the dosage. The latter could be a case of distracted driving or improperly maintaining a vehicle in such a way that it inevitably posed a danger to other drivers.
The leading causes of wrongful deaths in the state are motor vehicle accidents, which seem to become more deadly every year despite improvements in road and motor vehicle safety. These include automobile accidents, semi-truck collisions, motorcycle accidents, and vehicles hitting pedestrians.
However, traffic collisions are not the only source of grief for families in the Dallas-Fort Worth community.
Rounding out the top 5 are:
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Workplace injuries
- Criminal acts
Although the perpetrators don’t necessarily intend such outcomes, there are still possible legal and civil judgments to hold them accountable and offer compensation to families.
Consequences for actions that lead to injury and death
Families can initiate wrongful death claims to make amends for the death and loss of companionship of a loved one or estates in the form of a survival claim to compensate for pain and suffering after a loss of life.
Such laws are detailed under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 71.001 and Section 16.003, and any lawsuits must be filed within two years of the incident. Actions can be brought by the legal next of kin, including parents or children of the deceased.
Under wrongful death laws in Texas, victim’s families or estate can sue for:
- Loss of financial support
- Mental anguish of surviving family members
- Pain and suffering of the deceased leading up to death
- Medical and funeral expenses
Holding guilty parties accountable may not always feel like justice. But, hopefully, families can gain some peace of mind through the legal process.