With its long history beginning in the early 19th century to its modern offerings of local wines, Grapevine plays a vibrant role in the Dallas/Fortworth metropolitan community. Nevertheless, Grapevine is still a tight-knit community, and it feels it when sudden and wrongful death occurs. Chaos and almost unsurvivable anguish fill the lives of those touched by wrongful death. Rightly you should be focusing on your family in this time of tragedy. However, like it or not, practical matters need attention. In this article, we will discuss what wrongful death is and what compensation you can expect.
Hartley Law Firm Can Protect Your Future
In the aftermath of wrongful death, you need simplicity and trust. Hartley Law Firm delivers that to you. As your Grapevine wrongful death law firm, we will handle every facet of your case. From gathering evidence to requesting records, from talking with witnesses to hiring experts, we have your welfare covered. In addition, not only can we file a lawsuit, but we will also represent you on appeal and in alternative dispute resolution. Our founder Austin Hartley is a fourth-generation Dallas native and, as such, is invested in the quality of his community, which includes justice for the victimized. When you hire Hartley Law Firm you have a lawyer for life.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Texas statutes govern claims for wrongful death, and there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, the period to bring a wrongful death claim is within two years from the date of death. Second, a wrongful death civil action is very different from a criminal action for homicide even though both can occur at the same time for the same death. In addition, civil and criminal actions serve different purposes and require different levels of proof. In a civil wrongful death action, the purpose is to compensate the survivors and deter future behavior. In a criminal homicide prosecution, the purpose is to bring justice to the survivors and punish the guilty. The standard for victory in wrongful death is a “preponderance of the evidence” while in criminal homicide it is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Because these standards are very different, it’s possible for loved ones to receive compensation for wrongful death even if the wrongdoer is acquitted of criminal homicide charges.
To prove wrongful death in the civil context, a plaintiff must show that :
- Someone died;
- Their death was the result of a wrongful act, negligence, carelessness, or unskillfulness; and
- The person could have brought a personal injury claim if they had lived.
However, while a personal injury claim compensates the injured person for losses they suffered as a result of the injury, a wrongful death claim compensates the person’s family for the loss of their loved one.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
Importantly, Texas law limits the people who can bring a claim to those who would have been statutory beneficiaries of the deceased person’s estate (i.e., who would be the heirs if the deceased died without a will). Therefore, the class of eligible persons to bring a claim is:
- The spouse,
- The children, and
- The parents.
If none of these people bring a claim within three months of the person’s death, their estate representative may bring a claim unless the loved ones ask them not to.
What Types of Damages Are Available in Wrongful Death?
The most common form of damages for wrongful death is designed to economically compensate survivors for the loss of the deceased. These damages may include compensation for:
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Loss of care, maintenance, services, support, and advice from the deceased;
- Mental pain and anguish experienced by the survivors;
- Loss of love, companionship, and comfort; and
- Loss of inheritance of the deceased (i.e., what could they have saved and left to survivors had they lived).
An experienced Grapevine wrongful death attorney can help you measure these damages. That all said, there are less common damages known as “exemplary damages.” Exemplary damages are limited to circumstances involving a “willful act or omission or gross negligence.” Exemplary damages are designed to punish and deter especially egregious conduct. If you feel exemplary damages may apply to your case, you should discuss it with an experienced Grapevine wrongful death lawyer.
Hartley Law Is Here for Grapevine
If your family has suffered a wrongful death, you need a knowledgeable and experienced Grapevine wrongful death attorney to help ensure you receive what the law justly provides.
Our experienced attorney also handles other types of injury cases, including: