If you’ve lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, we’re here to help guide you through the difficult process of holding the wrongdoer accountable.
The decisions you and your family make will prove vital to the outcome of your wrongful death case. You only have one chance to tell your loved one’s story the right way. A number of strategic decisions must be made immediately. Evidence must be gathered immediately. Experts may be required immediately. Our firm has experience handling wrongful death and survival action cases. Allow us to intelligently, carefully and strategically fight for you and your deceased family member.
Remember: The wrongdoer and/or their insurance company are already assessing and strategizing how to deal with your claim. They may be aiming to delay, deny or minimize it. If you wait to find out, it could be too late. If you wait to hire an attorney, the wrongdoer may have the upper hand regarding a number of issues such as locating and questioning witnesses first, tampering with or destroying evidence or simply providing you with little to no information, leaving you in the dark and thus not truly knowing your rights.
We will work hard to level the playing field which improves your chance of obtaining justice. Our wrongful death lawyers and in-house investigator will get to work fast. Here’s some of the information you need to know:
What’s the difference between a wrongful death case and a survival action? The answer depends on who was harmed. Was it a father who died instantly and now can’t support his children or are we dealing with a single man who suffered a long, slow and painful death? In the former situation, the children certainly should sue for the financial support they’ve now lost because of their father’s untimely demise. In the latter situation, there are no children but the estate can sue for the pain, suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish and medical bills sustained by the victim in the days or weeks leading up to his death. Of course, there are situations where wisdom dictates it’s best to file both causes of action.
A wrongful death case is brought by certain family members that directly suffer financial and/or emotional harm because of the untimely loss of a relative caused by someone else’s negligence or gross negligence.
A survival action is brought by the deceased’s estate. The estate sues for the deceased’s own harm and damages caused directly from someone else’s negligence or gross negligence that resulted in their death.
The following wrongful death facts and FAQs may be helpful:
Who can file a wrongful death suit?
In the state of Texas, there is a legal distinction between the persons able to file a wrongful death suit and the person who are beneficiaries. Mullen & Mullen wrongful death attorneys can provide specific information in your case. According to the law in Texas, those who can file a wrongful death claim are strictly limited to the decedent’s:
- Surviving spouse
- Child or multiple children
- Parent or legal guardian
Can siblings file a wrongful death suit?
In the state of Texas, siblings do not have the right to bring a lawsuit. For reference, see Castillo v. Hildago County Water District, 771 SW2d 633 (Tex. App. Corpus Christi 1989). HOWEVER, money recovered from a survivor action goes to the estate, and if the deceased had a will and that will named a sibling as a beneficiary then the sibling will indirectly benefit from the lawsuit.
Should you file a wrongful death case, direct the estate to file a survival action, or do both?
It depends. For example, hospitals sometimes have the right to file a lien against personal injury cases to ensure their bills are paid. Those liens don’t attach to wrongful death cases, but they do attach to a survival action cases. Let’s say we’re dealing with a car accident victim who was rushed to the hospital and stayed there 20 days before dying. Clearly, the victim’s estate will be stuck with tremendously large hospital bills that must be paid before any beneficiaries will inherit a dime. Let’s also say the defendant responsible for the death has limited assets and/or a relatively small liability insurance policy. If the surviving family members were personally and significantly harmed then it may be best to file only a wrongful death case so the huge hospital lien won’t attach. This would enable the surviving family members to collect what little money the defendant has without the hospital stepping in and collecting it all first. However, if the defendant has sufficient assets and/or a large liability insurance policy then it would be wise to exercise both types of cases since it would be best, after all, to pay the hospital bills from a survival action recovery instead of the deceased’s estate having to pay using money that was clearly intended to pass onto beloved beneficiaries.
Remember: There are many different fact patterns that can and will arise. Your family will have their own unique set of circumstances. For this reason alone, you’d be wise to contact our law firm and see what strategy would be best suited for you and your family.
Wrongful Death Claims Filed by an Estate
Texas law states that if the surviving spouse, parents or children don’t file a wrongful death suit within 3 months, the decedent’s executor or administrator has the right to file a suit. The exception is if the estate was forbidden by the surviving family to file the lawsuit. A wrongful death lawyer can advise you regarding the law in your situation. For reference, see Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code 71.004.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas
If you desire to file wrongful death suit in Texas, consult with a qualified wrongful death lawyer for advice that is specific to your case. Under Texas law, you will need to prove that your case fits at least one of the below scenarios:
- 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, his agent’s or his servant’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, un-skillfulness, or default.
- The defendant is a proprietor, owner, charterer or hirer of an industrial or public utility plant or of a railway, street railway, steamboat, stagecoach or other vehicle for transportation of good or passengers and the death was caused by the person or his agent’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, un-skillfulness, or default.
- The defendant is a receiver, trustee or other person in charge or control of a railroad, street railway, steamboat, stagecoach, or other vehicle for the transportation of goods or passengers, of an industrial or public utility plant or other machinery. In addition, the death must have been caused by:
- the person’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, un-skillfulness, or default; or
- the person’s, servant’s or agent’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, un-skillfulness, or default; or
- a bad or unsafe condition of the railroad, street railway, or other machinery under the person’s control or operation.
- A person is liable for damages arising from an injury that causes an individual’s death if the person is a receiver, trustee, or other person in charge of or in control of a railroad, street railway, steamboat, stagecoach, or other vehicle for the transportation of goods or passengers, of an industrial or public utility plant, or of other machinery; and the action could have been brought against the owner of the railroad, street railway, or other machinery if he had been acting as operator.
This information is intended to help you prepare for filing a wrongful death suit. However, the information is not intended to replace sound and detailed case-specific legal advice from a qualified attorney. Allow the wrongful death lawyers at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm to partner with you in your quest for justice. Contact us today for a free legal consultation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
When a wrongful death claim is anticipated, it is crucial to preserve evidence and quickly begin an investigation into the cause of the accident. In addition, it is imperative to file a law suit prior to the statue of limitations deadline. If a loved one has been a victim of wrongful death, call us at (214) 747-5240 or submit a simple case form online.
The initial consultation is free, and if we accept your case we work on a contingency basis and only get paid if we recover compensation for you. If you mention our website we’ll reduce your contingency fee from the standard 33.3% down to 28% if your case settles without filing a lawsuit. Only you can authorize the filing of a lawsuit. If your loved one has been the victim of wrongful death, you may be entitled to substantial compensation, but you must either settle or file suit before the statue of limitations expires. Don’t delay; call our wrongful death attorneys in Dallas, Plano and Fort Worth now to schedule your free consultation.