New Braunfels Wrongful Death Lawyers

A loved one can never be replaced. Unfortunately, many Texas family members are unexpectedly and quickly taken from their families in devastating accidents. When an accident takes the life of a loved one, a family can be left in the state of emotional turmoil. It can be difficult for families to even imagine moving forward without their loved one. However, life eventually must go on. This is where a wrongful death attorney can help.

When life does start to move forward from a devastating fatal accident, families can find themselves facing financial difficulties. These difficulties can be caused by the loss of income or services that the family member used to provide. For example, the accident victim may have been the family’s breadwinner. Without that person’s income, surviving family members may have a difficult time making ends meet. Or, the victim may have been a stay-at-home parent. In this case, there may now be increased child care costs and household responsibilities that go undone. In either case, it will take money and time to replace what the family has lost.

In order to try and recover these costs, the families of fatal accident victims can file a wrongful death suit. In Texas, if a negligent party was responsible for causing the fatal accident, that party is responsible for paying the costs associated with the accident. These can include the lost wages, medical expenses, funeral expenses and more related to the victim’s death. However, it can be difficult for family members to seek these damages on their own.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought about after an incident in which someone is killed due to or dies from the negligence of another party. The surviving family members of the deceased are usually the ones who sue. In addition to death and negligence, for a wrongful death lawsuit to be valid, the surviving family members must be suffering monetary harm as a result of the death of their loved one and there must be a representative appointed for the deceased’s estate.

As stated before, nothing can fully replace the loss of a loved one. However, if negligence was the reason for a death, seeking compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit may be an applicable method of providing a more comfortable way forward for a family.

A cause of action for wrongful death exists in a few situations. Under section 71.002 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, if a person’s death was caused by the carelessness, wrongful act, neglect, default or unskillfulness of another person then a cause of action for wrongful death exists. Additionally, if the person’s agent causes the death of another as a result of any of these reasons, a cause of action also exists.

Under this statute, a person includes an association, a corporation, a joint-stock company, groups of individuals or an individual. If a cause of action exists against a person, that person is responsible for damages arising from the person’s death. Section 71.010 gives a jury the authority to award damages. These damages must be proportional to the injury that resulted in the person’s death.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit

The damages sought in a wrongful death lawsuit are pecuniary in nature.  These are damages to cover the actual financial losses suffered by the family. These losses include medical expenses for medical care that occurred before the person’s death, funeral expenses and lost wages.

Factors that can contribute to the amount mostly deal with the deceased party and can include age, earning capacity, life expectancy, intelligence and health and more. Some of these may take precedence over others depending on the circumstances of the deceased at the time of death.

These can also include the loss of inheritance, loss of parental guidance and loss of companionship. These are the main damages that are awarded in wrongful death cases.

Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are only available in certain circumstances and are meant to punish the negligent party. They also help to deter others from acting negligently.

What Are Exemplary Damages?

Accidents occur every day in Texas. Some of these accidents are minor but others are life-threatening. When an accident takes the life of a loved one, Texas citizens may be on aware of their legal rights. Some may discover, that they have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In this lawsuit, families of victims can receive compensation from negligent parties. If the negligence of another causes the death of a loved one, you may have the right to compensation.

There are many types of compensation that families may seek following the death of a loved one. One type of damages are exemplary damages. Many families may wonder what exactly constitutes an exemplary damage.

Under section 41.001 of the Texas damages code, exemplary damages include a variety of different costs. Specifically, these are costs above and beyond actual economic losses — such as lost wages or medical expenses.

Instead, exemplary damages tend to be of an emotional nature. These damages can include punitive damages. Specifically, these non-economic damages mean things like the loss of enjoyment of life, mental pain and anguish, physical impairment, loss of companionship and society, loss of consortium and others.

Under Texas laws, families may be entitled to exemplary damages in the many situations. In particular, if gross negligence led to the fatal accident, the family may be entitled to exemplary damages. However, exemplary damages are only available if a jury was unanimous in finding liability against the defendant.

Families of fatal accident victims, need to understand their legal rights. While this blog post can provide some information, specific legal advice should be sought from an attorney. With the help of an attorney, people can understand whether not they are entitled to exemplary and other damages. While these damages cannot fully compensate people for their loss, it can help families avoid financial turmoil following the death of a loved one.

Limits on Exemplary Damages in Texas

Texas residents who are seeking damages in wrongful death suit may be trying to recover exemplary damages. Exemplary damages are damages for non-economic losses that occur as a result of another person’s negligence. These losses can include the loss of consortium, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship and society and more. These punitive damages are often important to families as they start a new life without their loved one.

However, in a wrongful death suit, exemplary damages are only available in certain situations. Under section 41.003 of the Texas damages code, exemplary damages can only be awarded if gross negligence caused the injuries. Additionally, the jury must unanimously award the damages and agree on the amount of such damages.

When exemplary damages are awarded they are limited in scope. Under section 41.008, exemplary damages cannot exceed the greater of $200,000 or two times the economic damages — such as lost wages or medical expenses — plus any noneconomic damages found by a jury not exceeding $750,000. Also, if the death was the result of certain criminal behavior, exemplary damages may also be limited.

It is important for families of people killed by the negligence of another to understand their legal rights. A wrongful death suit can be a complicated legal action requiring the specific help of an attorney. These actions cannot bring back the person that the family has lost. However, it can help these families seek the financial compensation they need to move forward from an unfortunate and devastating accident.

Texas Noneconomic Damages and Wrongful Death Cases

When a loved one is killed in a Texas fatal accident, money is generally not the first thing that comes to mind. The sudden loss of a loved one is, instead, a horrible, sad and emotional time. The family may have to spend a long time coming to terms with the person’s death before money ever crosses the family’s mind. Eventually, however, people will start to feel the economic loss from the person’s passing. If the person was a family breadwinner, for example, the family may suffer from lost wages. Additionally, bills may start to pile up, if from the person’s funeral or from any medical treatment.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, these economic damages may be recoverable by the deceased’s family. In a lawsuit, the family can hold a negligent party financially responsible for the damages caused in the fatal accident. Whether it is a car accident, fatal workplace accident or other accident, the family’s economic recovery can be very important.

Nonetheless, in these instances, families suffer much more than just an actual economic loss. There are also noneconomic damages. These noneconomic damages may be recoverable in some situations. These include the loss of consortium. The loss of consortium is the loss of marital affection, help, comfort and intimate relations.

There is also the loss of companionship. This is the loss of the relationship between the deceased and other close family members. This is measured in the amount of positive benefits the family is losing because of the person’s death. These benefits include comfort, love, companionship and closeness the family would have shared, had the person lived.

Other noneconomic benefits may also be recovered. These include pain and suffering, the loss of household services and other special damages. To determine exactly what compensation is available for a Texas family following the loss of a loved one, a family should speak with an attorney.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit in Texas?

Under section 71.004 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, only certain people can bring a wrongful death suit. Under this section, wrongful death suits can only be brought by the deceased’s parents, children or surviving spouse. These individuals are also the only people that can benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit. This section explains that only one of these individuals needs to bring the suit for the entire group to benefit.

Furthermore, if the deceased’s children, spouse or parents do not bring a wrongful death suit within three months of the person’s death, then the executor of the person’s estate must bring the suit. However, if the person’s parents, spouse and children all agree that a suit should not be brought, then the executor does not have to file an action.

Two Types of Court Cases Following a Wrongful Death

A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought about after an incident in which someone is killed due to or dies from the negligence of another party. The surviving family members of the deceased are usually the ones who sue. In addition to death and negligence, for a wrongful death lawsuit to be valid, the surviving family members must be suffering monetary harm as a result of the death of their loved one and there must be a representative appointed for the deceased’s estate.

The damages sought in a wrongful death lawsuit are pecuniary in nature. Factors that can contribute to the amount mostly deal with the deceased party and can include age, earning capacity, life expectancy, intelligence and health and more. Some of these may take precedence over others depending on the circumstances of the deceased at the time of death.

As stated before, nothing can fully replace the loss of a loved one. However, if negligence was the reason for a death, seeking compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit may be an applicable method of providing a more comfortable way forward for a family.

The ‘Discovery Rule’

Following the death of a loved one in an accident, a family may be in complete shock. Their grief may be so deep that it can be hard to even think about the tragic circumstances that caused the person’s death.

Following a deadly accident, though, it is important to determine whether another person’s negligence caused the accident. If a person was negligent in causing the deadly accident, then that person can be held financially responsible for damages. However, determining liability often requires a family to ask tough questions that they may want to avoid.

Avoiding these questions for too long, however, poses a threat to the family’s financial security. A wrongful death suit can only be brought for so long after the person’s death. If a family waits too long from the accident to file, then they may be precluded from doing so.

In particular, under the so-called “discovery rule,” if the decedent had reason to know the cause of the person’s injury before the person died, then the statute of limitations starts to run even before the person died. In other words, once the person has reason to know that negligence caused the person’s injury, the time in which the person can bring a suit starts to run. If the person ultimately dies, that time is counted towards the time that the person’s family has to bring a wrongful death suit.

These complicated statute of limitations rules can significantly affect a family’s ability to recover damages for a deadly accident. Once the time runs out to bring a suit, it can be difficult to recover compensation.

Deadly motor vehicle accidents are both emotionally devastating and expensive. People need to do everything they can to ensure that they are properly compensated by a negligent driver. With the help of an attorney, people can make sure that they follow the discovery rule and other legal technicalities. This can help them seek a favorable result in the case.

Contact Our Wrongful Death Lawyers

It can be difficult for any family to imagine life without a loved one. But when they face the situation, it is important to know their legal rights.

This is where the attorneys at the Burch Law Firm can help. Our compassionate attorneys can help families dealing with the stress and emotions resulting from a fatal accident. Our attorneys can help people take the legal steps necessary following a wrongful death to hold a responsible party liable for the person’s actions. This often means seeking financial damages from the other party. Our firm can help take over the legal aspects of the case, as a family grieves and heals. With our skilled and compassionate help, people can start to move forward from a fatal accident.

While these families focus on their emotional recovery, our attorneys can focus on the financial recovery. We can aggressively seek compensation from any negligent party or that party’s insurance company. We can undertake an investigation, if necessary, and file any required legal documents. Contact us today.