When Is a Wrongful Death Claim Appropriate?
Wrongful death actions in Texas are available in many different circumstances. Common causes of wrongful death include:
There are very specific limitations in Texas for on the job injuries and medical malpractice claims. Texas statutes limit the damages recoverable by a plaintiff.
For instance, only the children and spouse can sue for a wrongful death in an on the job injury if the employer had workers’ compensation. In a medical malpractice case in Texas, all non-economic damages, meaning physical impairment, pain and mental anguish and physical disfigurement damages are limited to a total of $500,000 for claims against multiple health care defendants and a $250,000 limit for any single care giver. Each and all of these causes of action are very viable means of suing and holding a defendant liable.
As in any civil lawsuit for damages, holding a defendant (or defendants) responsible for causing any damage. Then the question becomes how much is it worth. In other words, the damages for a wrongful death action are primarily set out in the Texas Pattern Jury Charges.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Any beneficiary of the deceased can sue for wrongful death. Beneficiaries include spouses, children and parents. Parents, however, cannot recover punitive damages for the death of their children in Texas.
Children and spouses can file for wrongful death whether it is an on the job injury, medical malpractice, product liability or an 18 wheeler accident. If a third party can be held responsible, then spouses and children can recover actual damages as well as punitive damages. In those situations, the heirs have up to two years from the time of death to bring a lawsuit.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Case?
In Texas, the following damages are recoverable in wrongful death cases:
- Pecuniary Loss
- Loss of Companionship
- Mental Anguish
- Loss of Inheritance
Each of these elements of damage are strictly defined and regulated. Pecuniary loss in Texas is defined as the loss of the care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel and reasonable contributions of a pecuniary value excluding loss of inheritance. So a surviving beneficiary would be entitled to show the jury all of the elements of their situation that supported a recovery of damages for the loss of their loved one.
Suing for Loss of Companionship, Loss of Inheritance, and Other Actual Damages
Loss of companionship and society in Texas is also recoverable. It is a less objective damage and is determined by subjective standards. This subjective determination is also used for Mental Anguish. Mental Anguish is defined as the emotional pain, torment and suffering experienced by the Plaintiff because of the death of their loved one.
All of these damages are known as actual damages. They are recoverable for the death of the person from whatever cause of action. In addition to actual damages, a beneficiary is entitled to recover exemplary damages only if there is evidence of gross negligence.
Wrongful Death Attorney in Beaumont
It is important to know what damages you or your loved one is entitled to so you can make educated decisions about settlement and proceeding to trial. In a trial, all of the damages have to be supported by the evidence presented at trial. In other words, if there is no evidence of a pecuniary loss, then a Texas Court or jury will not be able to award any pecuniary damages.
At Dugas Law Firm, we understand the laws and regulations that affect your wrongful death claim, and we can help you pursue the maximum amount of compensation in your case. If your loved one has fallen ill or lost their life due to the negligence of another person, connect with a member of our team as soon as possible.
Call (409) 226-0990 today to schedule your free consultation with a Beaumont wrongful death lawyer.