The Law Office of J. Michael Solar PLLC understands wrongful death lawsuits.
The firm has successfully prosecuted many wrongful death cases on behalf of survivors who lost loved ones to:
- Plant explosions and maintenance operations;
- 18-Wheeler and car wrecks;
- Premises Liability (Murders occurring at Malls, Shopping Centers, Night Clubs, Apartments and convenience stores);
- Products Liability (Defective medicine, appliances, cars, industrial components, smoke detectors, water heaters and more);
- Chemical and Hazardous Substances exposures;
- Confined space asphyxiation;
- Maritime collisions / explosions / sinking / negligence;
- Fishing vessel fatalities;
- Offshore drilling mishaps; and
- Other negligent activities.
Texas Wrongful Death Statute
A wrongful death lawsuit refers to a claim(s) against a wrongdoer(s) for actual damages arising from an injury that causes the death of a spouse, parent, or child if liability exists under the law.
Who Can Bring a Lawsuit?
The Texas wrongful death statute is set forth in the Chapter 71 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The statute allows recovery solely for the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased.
Texas recognizes informal or “common law” marriages and thus allows a spouse (husband or wife) to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. To prove a common law marriage exists, one must establish that:
- neither the husband nor the wife was married to anyone else;
- they agreed to be married;
- they lived together as husband and wife; and
- they told others that they were (“held themselves out as”) married. One must get a formal divorce to terminate a common law marriage.
Cause of Action
The Texas wrongful death statute provides that “[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, lack of skill, or default.”
The following represent the elements of damages recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit:
Pecuniary Loss means the loss of the care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, and reasonable contributions of a pecuniary value, excluding loss of inheritance, that the spouse, in reasonable probability, would have received from the decedent had he lived;
Loss of Companionship and Society means the loss of the positive benefits flowing from the love, comfort, companionship, and society that the plaintiff, in reasonable probability, would have received from the Decedent had he lived;
Mental Anguish means the emotional pain, torment, and suffering experienced by the plaintiff because of the death of the spouse, parent, or child; and
Loss of Inheritance means the loss of the present value of the assets that the deceased, in reasonable probability, would have added to the estate and left at natural death to the plaintiff.
Exemplary damages sometimes referred to as punitive damages, are available in some Texas wrongful death claims. Exemplary damages are recoverable for deaths caused by willful acts or omissions or by gross negligence. Exemplary damages are meant to punish a wrongdoer and deter willful and grossly negligent conduct.
When Must a Suit Be Filed?
The Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.003(b) allows survivors two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
The clock normally starts to tick when the claim arises. There may be certain circumstances that can delay (“toll”) statutes of limitations and lengthen the time for bringing a claim. The exceptions can be complicated to interpret. The best solution is to file suit as soon as possible.
The Law Office of J. Michael Solar PLLC has extensive experience in the prosecution of wrongful death lawsuits.
Survivors must choose a firm that possesses the knowledge, skill and resources to fully develop the evidence; hire necessary experts; assist the survivors in obtaining the services they require to document their losses and pursue their cause of action.