San Antonio TX Wrongful Death Attorney
In the midst of your grief as you struggle to support your family after your spouse’s accidental death, you ask, “Can I recover money from the other party to support my family?” Our San Antonio wrongful death attorney believes you can with a wrongful death claim. If one of your loved ones passed away due to the negligence or intentional acts of another person, call Brylak Law today.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Texas statute expresses that a wrongful death occurs when another party(s) “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” caused the death of an individual. “Individual” includes unborn children from every stage of gestation until birth (Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. 71.001, et. seq.)
Our San Antonio injury attorney explains that you have grounds to file a wrongful death action when someone else’s negligence (e.g. medical malpractice, car or work place accident, toxic exposure, etc.) or intentional act (e.g. criminal behavior) caused the death of your loved one.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
A San Antonio TX wrongful death attorney can help you understand if you have a basis to file a claim. Texas statutes indicate that the following people may file a wrongful death claim:
- Surviving spouse
- Executor of the decedent’s estate
The surviving spouse, children, and parents of a deceased person may file separate wrongful death claims, or they may file one claim together as a group. If these people do not file a wrongful death claim within three months of the date the deceased person died, then a personal representative, or executor, of the estate may file a claim in their stead.
A child of the deceased may mean a biological or adoptive child. Similarly, a parent may be biological or adoptive. Guardians and step-parents and children may not have the same rights in a wrongful death claim.
Texas does not allow siblings of the deceased person to file a wrongful death claim. Similarly, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends may not file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. A San Antonio TX wrongful death attorney can help you determine who may file a wrongful death claim.
Same-sex partners may not have wrongful death rights unless they were legally married under Texas law. Partnerships do not generally qualify for benefits of a wrongful death claim. You must provide legal documentation that you were a surviving spouse to the deceased.
What Elements Do You Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Following the death of your loved one, a spouse, children, parent, or personal representative may bring a successful wrongful death claim if any of the following can be proved:
- Surviving family members suffer monetary injury as a result of the untimely death
- A personal representative is appointed for the decedent’s estate.
A wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim filed on behalf of your passed loved one. For more information about wrongful death claims, contact Brylak Law.
What Damages Can You Recover?
After a wrongful death, you may be consumed with sorrow due to the loss of your loved one. A lawsuit may be the last thing on your mind. However, you likely have funeral expenses, medical costs, and more that you have lost due to the death of your loved one. Through a wrongful death claim, a San Antonio TX wrongful death attorney can help you recover for the following:
- Lost earning capacity
- Mental and emotional anguish, pain, and suffering
- Lost care, maintenance, support, companionship, comfort, or parental guidance
- Lost inheritance
- Medical expenses of the deceased
- Pain and suffering of the deceased
Punitive or exemplary damages are also recoverable to punish the wrongdoer and warn other people that such conduct is intolerable if the death was caused by gross negligence or a willful act or omission.
You may also recover damages the decedent suffered prior to his or her death via a survival action. A survival action is different than a wrongful death claim. In a survival action, you are trying to recover losses that your loved one incurred prior to death. In a wrongful death claim, you are trying to recover your own losses due to the death of your loved one. You may file both a survival action and a wrongful death claim at the same time. The cases may be joined into one by the court, or they may be treated separately.
We Can Help You Gather Evidence in a Wrongful Death Claim
Your San Antonio TX wrongful death attorney can help you gather evidence to support your claim in a wrongful death case. All lawsuits can be difficult and often require the help of experts, such as investigators, accident reconstructionists, medical professionals, and more. Your attorney is your connection to those people who will support your case. In addition to expert witnesses, you may have the following evidence in your wrongful death case:
- Medical records
- Accident depictions
- Police reports
- Eyewitness testimony
- Character witnesses
- Criminal records
Every wrongful death case is unique, but a skilled San Antonio TX wrongful death attorney can help you gather evidence for your case.
Criminal Charges and Wrongful Death Cases
Many wrongful death cases are filed at the same time or as well as criminal charges. If the deceased person died due to criminal activity, such as in a drunk driving accident, then you may be filing a case at the same time as a prosecutor. However, a criminal case is much different than a wrongful death case.
Criminal cases are filed in criminal courts by a prosecuting attorney who represents the government. The prosecuting attorney must present evidence and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.
In a civil case, such as a wrongful death claim, the relative of a deceased person files a case in civil court. Both sides present evidence and the relative of the deceased must prove by a preponderance of evidence (or the majority of evidence) that the defendant caused the death of their loved one.
Even if both criminal and civil cases are based on the same evidence, because they have a different standard of proof, there can be a different outcome. Even if a person is found not guilty in a criminal case, they may be held liable for a wrongful death in civil court. Your San Antonio TX wrongful death attorney can help you understand this concept.
Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Most civil cases, such as a wrongful death case, have a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a time limit within which a lawsuit must be filed or the claim will be invalid or thrown out of court. In Texas, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years after your loved one’s death. That means that you must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the death of your loved one. Although that sounds like a long period of time, it is not. It can take years to negotiate with third parties and insurance companies. Your San Antonio TX wrongful death attorney can help you quickly file a claim to protect your rights.
Contact a San Antonio Injury Attorney
With only two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death suit, our experienced San Antonio injury attorney at Brylak Law can assist you with your claim. Contact Brylak Law at 210.733.5533.