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Necessary Elements in a Wrongful Death Claim

Law Offices of Francisco G. Medina Dec. 12, 2023

If you're reading this, you're likely grappling with the loss of a loved one due to someone else's negligence. It's an unimaginably tough time, filled with grief, confusion, and a seemingly endless list of questions. 

At the Law Offices of Francisco G. Medina, our attorney understands the emotional toll that comes with wrongful death cases, and we want to extend our sincerest sympathies to you and your loved ones.  

We're here to provide some comfort and clarity amidst the chaos. This blog post aims to shed light on the elements necessary to prove such a claim and who can file these claims in Texas. Our experience serving clients throughout the Greater Houston Area has equipped us to guide you through the process with empathy and professionalism. While we know we can't take away the pain of your loss, we hope to ease the burden by helping you understand the legal avenues available to you.  

Defining Wrongful Death

Wrongful death is a term that carries a heavy weight. It refers to a situation where someone loses their life due to the negligence or misconduct of another party. This could stem from various circumstances such as medical malpractice, car accidents, workplace incidents, or even faulty products. 

When we talk about wrongful death in a legal sense, it's crucial to establish that the death was a direct result of the defendant's wrongful actions or negligence. Wrongful death claims are essentially civil lawsuits where we seek monetary compensation for the losses you, as surviving family members, have suffered due to the death of your loved one. 

Elements Needed to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim

Successfully proving a wrongful death claim requires establishing certain elements. While these elements can differ based on jurisdiction, they generally encompass the following: 

1) There was a duty of care.

First, your claim has to demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased. This duty can arise from different relationships such as a doctor-patient relationship or a driver's responsibility to adhere to traffic laws. 

2) That duty of care was breached.

You also must demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care. This involves proving that their actions or lack thereof fell below the expected standard of care in the given situation. For example, a doctor may be considered to have breached their duty of care if they failed to provide appropriate treatment for an illness. 

3) The breach caused the death.

Next, you need to prove that this breach of duty directly caused the death of the deceased. Establishing this causation between the defendant's actions and the fatal outcome is pivotal, as it forms the crux of the wrongful death claim. 

4) Damages resulted from the death. 

Finally, you need to provide evidence of the damages suffered as a result of the wrongful death. These damages can be financial losses like medical expenses and lost income, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of companionship. 

Proving these elements often involves gathering evidence including medical records, accident reports, witness testimonies, and expert opinions. That's why it's so important to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can guide you through the legal process and help build a strong case on your behalf. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?

In Texas, the right to file a wrongful death claim is granted to specific individuals deemed "statutory beneficiaries. " The Texas Wrongful Death Act outlines the order of priority for filing a claim. This includes:  

  1. the surviving spouse of the deceased; 

  1. the children of the deceased (if there is no surviving spouse);  

  1. the parents of the deceased (if there are no surviving spouse or children); 

  1. the executor or administrator of the deceased's estate (if none of the above apply); and  

  1. the deceased's siblings or other relatives (if none of the above apply). 

Statute of Limitations

Please note that the right to file a wrongful death claim is time-sensitive. In Texas, you generally have two years from the date of the deceased's death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. While there are exceptions to this deadline, failing to file within this timeframe will likely result in the loss of the right to seek compensation. 

Providing Support When You Need It Most

At the Law Offices of Francisco G. Medina, we're ready to guide you forward, ensuring you have the support you need during such a difficult time. Not only can we help you understand the complexities of the law, but we can also help you seek justice for your loved one. The journey may be challenging, but you don't have to walk it alone—we'll be here every step of the way.  

When you're ready to discuss your case, contact our office in Houston, Texas. We're proud to represent clients throughout Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Galveston, and the surrounding areas.