San Antonio Wrongful Death Lawyer
Like every other state in the country, Texas has a specific set of laws that apply to wrongful death claims. Under these statutes, the surviving family members of an accident victim who passed away because of his or her accident-related injuries, are allowed to seek compensation on their loved one’s behalf. However, only certain family members are allowed to file these types of claims and when they do so, are required to comply with specific deadlines and filing rules. Reach out to our San Antonio wrongful death lawyer for answers to your questions.
What is Wrongful Death?
Under Texas law, a death is deemed wrongful when:
- An injury results in a person’s death;
- An injury was caused by someone else’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, lack of skill, or default; and
- The deceased would have been entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party if he or she had survived.
It can be helpful to think of a wrongful death case as a type of personal injury claim, where the victim isn’t able to file a claim on his or her own behalf. Instead, that person’s family members will step in and file suit. As with most personal injury claims, a variety of incidents can lead to a wrongful death suit, including everything from car crashes and slip and fall accidents to medical malpractice and the use of a defective consumer product.
How are Wrongful Death Claims Different From Criminal Cases?
Wrongful death cases are civil matters, which means that a defendant’s fault is expressed only in terms of financial compensation, or damages. A court awards these damages to the victim’s surviving family members. Conviction in a criminal homicide case, on the other hand, results in jail time, probation, fines paid to the state, and other penalties. There is also a lower burden of proof in civil cases, where a plaintiff need only prove that it is more likely than not that the defendant is at fault. Criminal cases require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much higher burden to meet. This is why a victim’s family could end up being successful when filing a civil claim, even though the state failed to convict the defendant for the corresponding criminal offense.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Only certain family members, namely the surviving spouse, children, or parents of a deceased relative can file a wrongful death case on the victim’s behalf. If one of these individuals fails to file a wrongful death claim within three months of the victim’s death, then the personal representative, or administrator of the deceased’s estate can file instead. If successful, plaintiffs could be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost earning capacity, lost care and support, mental pain and anguish, and loss of companionship. However, to be eligible for damages, the plaintiffs must file a claim within two years of their loved one’s death.
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Nothing can compensate a family for the untimely loss of a loved one, especially when that death was the result of someone else’s negligence. Recovering damages can, however, go a long way towards helping pay off medical bills and other expenses while the family starts the recovery process. For advice and support throughout this process, call the experienced San Antonio wrongful death legal team at the Law Office of Israel Garcia today.