The untimely death of a family member is among the most devastating events anyone could experience. When the loss could have been prevented, it is unbearable.
Sadly, every year families experience the wrongful death of loved ones due to another’s negligent actions. Whether the death happened as a result of a vehicle crash, a workplace mishap, medical malpractice, criminal violence, or virtually any other type of accident, families might be able to seek money damages with the help of a personal injury attorney. You and your family do not need to handle this hardship alone. A compassionate Harker Heights wrongful death lawyer can ease the burden and help your family seek justice.
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.002 specifies that only certain family members may seek money damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that the people who were most dependent upon a decedent or most affected by the loss are not considered appropriate plaintiffs and are unable to seek damages.
The legal spouse of a decedent may be a plaintiff in a wrongful death case. This includes a spouse who was legally separated or in the midst of divorce proceedings from a decedent at the time of death, but not a former spouse. Common-law marriage satisfies the statute, and surviving common-law spouses are appropriate plaintiffs in wrongful death actions. A lawyer could help a surviving partner determine whether their union meets the requirements to be considered a common-law marriage. The law does not recognize domestic partners, live-in romantic partners, or people engaged to be married to the decedent as appropriate plaintiffs.
A decedent’s children could be plaintiffs in a wrongful death action as long the decedent’s name appears on the child’s birth certificate. If a father did not acknowledge paternity during his lifetime, any child who wishes to bring a wrongful death action would have to prove paternity. An adopted child could bring an action for the wrongful death of their adoptive parent as long as the adoption was final at the time of the parent’s death. Step-children, foster children, and children who have not been legally adopted are ineligible to bring an action seeking damages for a parental figure’s wrongful death. Grandchildren may not seek damages for their grandparent’s wrongful death even if the grandparent was raising the child.
Parents could bring a wrongful death action seeking damages for the death of their child. A parent might bring an action seeking damages for the wrongful death of a child, they had legally adopted, but only if the adoption was final at the time of the child’s death. People who have been informally caring for a child, including family members such as siblings, aunts, uncles, or grandparents, have no right to bring an action upon that child’s death. The law does not permit step-parents, foster parents, or pre-adoptive parents to bring a wrongful death action.
A person is liable for damages for wrongful death if the injuries that killed someone resulted from someone else’s bad act, failure to act, lack of skill, carelessness, or neglect. The defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit could be an individual or someone acting on behalf of an individual. It also could be a corporation or company, and someone acting on behalf of the corporation or company.
A wrongful death claim could arise from a botched surgery, motor vehicle accident, acts of violence, a person’s fatal work-related illness, exposure to toxic pollutants because a company failed to comply with environmental laws, an accident in a public space, and a host of other circumstances. A consultation with a legal professional could help a family determine whether a wrongful death action is an available remedy in their particular case.
It can be difficult to figure out where to turn or what to do after a family member’s death. But if someone’s negligence contributed to their death, it is important to partner with a professional who can help you hold the responsible parties accountable and get justice for your loved one.
An empathetic Harker Heights wrongful death lawyer could help you sort out your options and map your best route forward. Call today to learn about how our dedicated attorney could help you seek justice.