Galveston Wrongful Death Lawyer
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Galveston has always been a popular residential city as well as a popular weekend destination. But with its popularity comes the risk of accidental death for any number of reasons. On this page, the Galveston wrongful death lawyer at the Doan Law Firm gives an overview of how Texas law deals with wrongful death lawsuits.
Texas definition of wrongful death in Texas
In Texas, a wrongful death is any death that was the result of the “… wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default…” of another. By this definition, a wrongful death can occur in everything from a bar room brawl to the operating room of a hospital. Wrongful death can also occur as a result of the unnecessary use of force by the police or the mistreatment of those in police custody.
In certain cases, particularly those occurring in a maritime setting, there can be an overlap between an accidental death that is covered by worker’s compensation and a death on a marine job site that was due to negligence on the part of an onshore worker. Such maritime deaths should be discussed with a wrongful death lawyer who has experience in maritime worker’s comp cases as well as in wrongful deaths ashore and away from a job site.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas?
Under Texas law, a surviving spouse, the children, or the parents of a wrongful death victim may sue for wrongful death as a group or individually but only one wrongful death suit may be filed. If the previously identified individuals have not filed a wrongful death lawsuit within three months of the date of death, a personal representative of the estate of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased’s estate unless he or she has been instructed not to do so.
The adult children, or the formally-adopted children, may file on the death of a parent or adoptive parent, respectively. However, an adopted child is prohibited from filing on the death of his or her biological parents.
Damages in wrongful death lawsuits
In wrongful death, the survivors are entitled to recover damages from the person or persons deemed to be responsible for that death. Although not a complete list, the following are typical of the types of damages that can be awarded by a court.
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses incurred prior to the deceased’s death
- Lost wages of other income the deceased would have earned over a lifetime
- Losses to the victim’s estate of real and personal property that the deceased would have accumulated over a normal lifespan
- Compensation for the support and guidance the deceased would have provided to family members
- Compensation for the psychological and emotional trauma of the untimely death
Texas law also allows the awarding of “exemplary” (“punitive”) damages if the jury believes that the deceased’s death was due to a deliberate illegal act by another or if the death was due to gross negligence, reckless conduct. Such awards can be quite substantial.
Statute of Limitations for wrongful death lawsuits in Texas
A lawsuit alleging wrongful death must be filed within two years of the deceased’s death. Failure to meet this deadline will result in your lawsuit being dismissed. An important exception to this rule is when the only survivor is minor at the time of the deceased’s death. In this circumstance, the two year rule does not apply.
When the sole survivor is under the age of 18, the two-year statute of limitations does not begin to “run” until the survivor’s 18th birthday. If the child wishes to file a wrongful death suit before his or her 18th birthday, a child may ask the court to appoint a “guardian ad litem” (guardian “for the lawsuit”) to assist the child in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Contacting the Galveston Wrongful Death Lawyer
At our law firm, we realize that the months following the sudden death of a family member can be very stressful and is also a time when hard decisions must be made regarding the survivors’ income and the disposition of their loved one’s personal property. Among the hardest decisions to be made is whether or not to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you are considering filing such a lawsuit, you should contact our Galveston wrongful death lawyer by calling us to arrange a free consultation regarding your options. At our firm, your first consultation is always free and does not obligate you to our firm. Should you decide for our firm to represent your case, we will assume all financial responsibility for preparing your case in return for an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement that we will win for you.
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