Suddenly losing a loved one is one of the most traumatic experiences anyone could ever face. Losing a close family member such as a spouse, a child or a parent, is difficult enough to bear especially if you know that their death was someone else’s fault.
Unfortunately, there are usually many more complicated questions and issues that need to be addressed when someone has passed, especially if they are your parent or your spouse. Questions like “How are we going to pay for their debts when they didn’t have life insurance or savings?” or “How are we going to pay for their hospital bills?”
For many, these questions may seem overwhelming, however, educating yourself on Texas laws and your rights as a spouse, parent, guardian, or descendant are necessary steps you must take to decide how you may find a resolution to some of these issues.
What Does Texas Law Say About Compensation For Death of A Family Member?
In Texas Law, there’s a special provision that allows you to bring a cause of action (a reason to sue) against someone whose negligence caused the wrongful death of your immediate family member such are your parent, spouse, or child. This provision is called the Wrongful Death Statute.
The Wrongful Death Statute is found in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code and states the following:
Sec. 71.002. CAUSE OF ACTION. (a) An action for actual damages arising from an injury that causes an individual’s death may be brought if liability exists under this section.
(b) A person is liable for damages arising from an injury that causes an individual’s death if the injury was caused by the person’s or his agent’s or servant’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.
As we can see, the civil law on wrongful death is fairly straight forward: if an individual commits a wrongful act or is careless or negligent that leads to another’s death, then the individual may be held liable and may have to pay compensation for the death of the individual.
Who Can File A Lawsuit When A Family Member Dies In An Accident?
For this, we can also look again at the wrongful death statute which states:
Sec. 71.004. BENEFITTING FROM AND BRINGING ACTION. (a) An action to recover damages as provided by this subchapter is for the exclusive benefit of the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased.
(b) The surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased may bring the action or one or more of those individuals may bring the action for the benefit of all.
(c) If none of the individuals entitled to bring an action have begun the action within three calendar months after the death of the injured individual, his executor or administrator shall bring and prosecute the action unless requested not to by all those individuals.
Texas law only allows for surviving immediate family members to bring a cause of action. Uncles, aunts, cousins do not qualify to bring these causes of action UNLESS they are the executor or administrator of the estate. Even then, they would have to wait three calendar months before they can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
I’m Already Being Offered Compensation For My Family Member’s Death – Do I Still Need A Wrongful Death Lawyer?
To be clear, it will always feel that nothing could ever be enough to compensate you for the loss of your family member. However, if you’re already being offered compensation for your family member’s death, chances are, unfortunately, this is likely the lower end of the possible amount of compensation you and your family should actually receive.
Insurance companies and those who represent the person(s) who caused your family members’ death are notorious for giving embarrassingly low offers to the victim’s families, hoping that the family will latch on to the first offer they receive so they can quickly write the claim off.
Hiring an experienced injury attorney or wrongful death lawyer could mean the difference between literally receiving nothing for your wrongful death claim or being justly compensated for your family member’s death. Having an experienced wrongful death litigator in your corner can ensure that your family’s wrongful death case is strong.
Contact The McAllen Wrongful Death Lawyers At Moore Law Firm Today
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one, you and your family may be entitled to compensation. If you need a lawyer for a death in your family, call the McAllen wrongful death lawyers at Moore Law Firm today for free, private consultation today at 1-888-444-2780.