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Mullen & Mullen Law Firm has been serving North Texas for nearly 4 decades.
Our corporate office is in Dallas, TX and we also have satellite locations in Plano, Frisco and Fort Worth. We are no-win no-fee personal injury lawyers with 38 years of experience maximizing Dallas wrongful death settlements.
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About Dallas Wrongful Death Claims
If you lost a loved one due to another’s recklessness or negligence, we are truly sorry for your loss. Our compassionate Dallas wrongful death lawyers are here to help you through this difficult time.
Our attorneys will get to work fast holding the wrongdoer accountable. Get in touch now for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options. There is never a fee of any kind for our legal services unless we obtain a financial recovery for you. Our Dallas wrongful death attorneys will work hard to level the playing field, which will improve your chance of obtaining justice.
What is wrongful death?
If you put it simply, wrongful death happens when your family member dies because of the negligent, reckless, or intentional act or misconduct of another. Some lawsuits are filed after either a failed or successful criminal case. However, it is easier to prove than the alleged crime associated with it.
Example Scenarios That Constitute Wrongful Death in Texas
If you desire to file a wrongful death lawsuit, consult with our qualified Dallas attorneys for advice specific to your case. Under Texas law, you will need to prove that your wrongful death claim fits at least one of the below examples.
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 Dallas wrongful death claim. However, it is not intended to replace sound and detailed case-specific legal advice from a qualified attorney. Allow the Dallas 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. We serve all of North Texas and also have offices in Plano, Frisco, and Fort Worth.
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 lawsuit prior to the statue of limitations deadline. If your loved one was killed, call us at (214) 747-5240 or submit a simple case form online.
The initial consultation is free, and if our Dallas wrongful death lawyers accept your case, we will 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 29% if your case settles without filing a lawsuit. Only you can authorize the filing of a lawsuit.
If your loved one is the victim, 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 Dallas wrongful death lawyers today.
How long do you have to file a wrongful death claim in Dallas?
Not too long, so it’s important to act fast. There are two statutes of limitations governing wrongful death in Texas:
- The period during which the deceased person could have filed a claim – 2 years
- The period during which you may claim on behalf of your loved one – 2 years
If you wait 2 years and 1 day after the date of the incident, Texas law prohibits you from seeking financial compensation for your loved one’s wrongful death.
The decisions you and your family make will prove vital to the outcome of your wrongful death claim. 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 personal injury law firm, with locations in Dallas, Plano, Frisco, and Fort Worth, has vast experience handling wrongful death claims. Allow us to intelligently, carefully and strategically fight for you and your deceased family member.
The wrongdoer and/or their insurance company is already strategizing on how to deal with your Dallas wrongful death suit.
They may be aiming to delay, deny or minimize it. If you wait to find out, it could be too late. If you delay in hiring a Dallas wrongful death lawyer, 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.
What’s the difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action?
A wrongful death claim 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 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 any 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.
Who is able to file a Dallas wrongful death lawsuit?
In the state of Texas, there is a legal distinction between the persons able to file a suit and the person who are beneficiaries. According to the law in Texas, those who can file a claim are laid out by statute:
- Surviving spouse
- Child or multiple children (including adult children)
- Parent or legal guardian
Are siblings allowed to file a Dallas wrongful death lawsuit?
No, siblings do not have this right. However, monies recovered from a survivor action goes to the estate, and if the deceased had a will and that will names a sibling as a beneficiary then the sibling will indirectly benefit from the lawsuit.
Can the decedent’s estate file a wrongful death lawsuit in Dallas?
The law in Texas generally is that the executor and/or administrator of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit if one has not been filed in the ninety (90) days following the decedent’s death by his or her surviving spouse, children, or parent and/or guardian. An exception to the general rule exists if the estate has been forbidden to file a lawsuit by one of the parties referenced above.
What are the elements that must be established to file a wrongful death action in Dallas?
In Texas a suit must be filed by the decedent’s surviving spouse, parent, or child as discussed above. In addition, a person or corporation must have committed a wrongful act that caused injuries to the decedent resulting in his or her death. It must also be established that the decedent would have been entitled to bring a personal injury action if he or she had survived. Also, the surviving spouse, parent, or child must also have suffered actual damages.
What damages are recoverable in a Dallas wrongful death cause of action brought by a surviving spouse, parent, or child?
You can recover “actual damages.” A surviving spouse of a decedent or surviving children of a decedent can potentially recover punitive damages but this is not true of parents of a child.
What “actual damages” are recoverable by parents of a child who was a victim of a wrongful death in Dallas?
Recoverable damages include monetary damages resulting from the death of the child (before and after the age of 18), damages for the termination of the parent-child relationship which is commonly referred to as “companionship and society”, and mental anguish (emotional pain, torment, and suffering – sometimes submitted as grief and bereavement) resulting from the death.
What “actual damages” are recoverable by parents if the child was an adult at the time of his or her wrongful death?
The same damages as if the child was a minor.
What “actual damages” are recoverable by a wife or husband whose spouse was the victim of a wrongful death in Dallas?
Recoverable damages include monetary loss due to the death of the spouse, damages for the termination of the spousal relationship (love, affection, comfort, sexual relationship), mental anguish caused by the death, and loss of inheritance (loss of future earning capacity / money that would have been added to the estate).
What “actual damages” are recoverable by a surviving child whose mother or father was the victim of a wrongful death in Dallas?
Recoverable damages include monetary loss resulting from the death of the parent, damages for the cessation of the relationship (love, compassion, etc.), mental anguish, and loss of inheritance (if any).
What will a jury be allowed to consider when arriving at damages for mental anguish and/or loss of companionship?
Jurors are typically instructed that they can consider the relationship between the party and the deceased, living arrangements of the parties, any periods of extended absence, family harmony, and shared interests/activities.
Can you recover punitive damages if your child, spouse, or parent was the victim of a wrongful death in Dallas?
Yes, if the loved one’s death was the result of willful or grossly negligent conduct. The caps on punitive damages laid out in the Tort Reform Act of 1995 are applicable. Texas judges have limited the recovery of punitive damages in these claims to the surviving spouse and children. (Inexplicably) Parents are not able to recover punitive damages for the death of a child.
Can you recover damages for the wrongful death of a spouse if you were separated at the time?
Potentially. This is a very case specific inquiry and support (if any) you received from the decedent during the separation period prior to his or her death.
If you are pregnant can you recover for the wrongful death of a fetus?
Yes, but (again inexplicably) generally only if the fetus is born alive and subsequently dies.
What is a “Survival Action?”
A survival action is filed by or on behalf of an estate to recover damages the decedent who was the victim of a wrongful death sustained prior to his or her death.
What damages are recoverable in a “Survival Action?”
Recoverable damages include physical pain and mental anguish suffered by the victim prior to his or her death, medical expenses incurred prior to the passing, funeral and burial expenses, property damages, and punitive damages.
Does the type of claim and/or action brought have any impact on hospital liens?
Yes, amounts recovered in a survival action are subject to a hospital lien while wrongful death damages generally are not.
In a survival action can the estate recover damages for physical pain and mental anguish if the victim was killed or lost consciousness quickly?
Probably not. Recovery of these damages is generally limited to instances in which conscious pain and suffering can be demonstrated – even if only for a short period of time.
How to Prove a Dallas Wrongful Death Claim
You have to prove 4 different elements.
- The defendant’s actions must have caused your loved one’s death (either in whole or part)
- The defendant must have acted with negligence or the specific intent to cause harm
- Your loved one’s death must have affected you or other surviving family members who can get compensation
- Surviving family members must be present and suffer monetary injury because of the death
Was the defendant negligent?
The most difficult aspect of any wrongful death claim is proving negligence. If someone was driving drunk and well over the legal BAC limit, negligence is easy to prove. But in cases where medical malpractice, it’s not always so clear and often costs lots of time and money to show.
You might also hear this called “proving duty” which refers to the fact the defendant is liable to the decedent for a duty of “due care.” Basically, that’s a duty to keep the other person safe or not to do something that may harm another person.
Did the defendant’s actions cause your loved one’s death?
Showing causation can also be easy or amazingly difficult. If a car crash happens, it’s comparatively easy to show the defendant’s car did or did not cause the accident.
But again in cases where medical malpractice is involved, it gets very difficult to show negligence. For example, your loved one could die months or years after a negligent act (like prescribing the wrong medicine) happens.
Demonstrating damages in Dallas wrongful death claims
If you show breach of duty and causation, damages are presumed because you showed the injured person was killed. However in cases where harm happens but not death, you can prove both of those but still lose the suit because you didn’t prove the nature and extent of the harm.
It’s sad other people make decisions which can cause the death of your loved one, but it’s a reality you have to live with. If you find yourself in this heartbreaking situation, contact our Dallas wrongful death lawyers for a free consultation.
Is wrongful death “murder” in Texas?
No, it’s different. You can only be convicted of “murder” in criminal court. You cannot seek financial compensation for “murder” charges.
In Texas “wrongful death” is a civil action. Civil trials seek financial damages, not jail time or execution.
For example, prosecutors may choose not to go after a drunk driver who hit and killed your loved one. They may not have enough evidence to convict them of manslaughter.
But, you can still file a claim for “wrongful death” in Texas and potentially win financial compensation.
What type of compensation can you get in Dallas wrongful death claims?
There’s a number of reasons you can get financial compensation for wrongful death in Texas. Here are a few “actual damages,” compensation you can recover for loss that actually happened (or will happen):
- Financial losses like your loved one’s lost earning capacity
- The value of the care, maintenance, counsel, advice, and support they would have given your family members
- Mental anguish, which means the emotional pain you suffer
- Losing positive benefits like love and companionship from your loved one
- The inheritance lost from what your loved one would have accumulated and left had they lived the typical amount of time
You can also win “exemplary” damages in Texas wrongful death claims. Rather than compensating you for actual losses, they are meant to penalize or punish the defendant for their gross negligence.
If you are in Texas, our Dallas wrongful death lawyers can help you. Call (214) 747-5240 now for a free consultation.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death claims happen frequently in the United States. It’s a sad but true fact that several hundred thousand people die each year because of the reckless or negligent actions of others. Let’s take a look at the number of wrongful deaths that result from various causes.
Medical Malpractice: Between 210,000 – 440,000 deaths per year
Both of these astonishing ranges are estimates. No one knows the actual number. But it is clear that medical malpractice is the leading cause of wrongful death in the United States. A 2013 study in the Journal of Patient Safety confirms these deaths happen from “preventable medical errors.”
And to put it in perspective, it accounts for 1/6 of all deaths (not just wrongful deaths).
A previous study done in 1999 by the Institute of Medicine (called the “To Err is Human” report) had this number at 98,000.
Car Accidents – 33,783 deaths per year
In a distant second position is car accidents, which cause 33,783 deaths per year. This stat comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Note that number is not necessarily just wrongful deaths. It includes accidental deaths too.
But as you know, many of those are wrongful deaths resulting from intoxicated driving and other negligent behaviors.
Work Accidents – 4,405 deaths per year
The BLS’s 2013 workplace fatality data shows 4,405 workplace deaths. The types of occupations that lead in causing deaths break down like this:
- Construction: 796
- Manufacturing: 304
- Wholesale trade: 190
- Mining: 154
- Utilities: 23
Defective Products – Less than 35,900 deaths per year
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission finds 35,900 deaths “related to, but not necessarily caused by” consumer products. So again, we don’t know the precise figure here.
Interestingly, the most vulnerable age group, speaking in terms of injuries, was people age 45-54. The second most vulnerable was people age 15-24. Astonishingly, children age 4 and under were the third least likely age group to be affected by dangerous products.
These are the most dangerous household products that have caused injury or death.
- Carpet chemicals
- Laser printer chemicals
- Lead paint
- Air fresheners and cleaning solutions
- Baby bottles
- Flame retardants
- Cosmetic phthalates (found in products like hair spray and rubber ducks)
We don’t have perfectly accurate numbers here. But, the CDC’s website notes there were 16,238 homicides in 2011.
Wrongful death is always a sad thing. But remember, if that happened to your loved one, you may have the right to recover financial compensation.
Get a free consultation today with a Dallas wrongful death lawyer to find out if you have a legitimate case and how much you might recover.
Learn how our attorneys can help! Contact us in Dallas, Plano, Frisco, or Fort Worth now to discuss the facts of your potential wrongful death claim.
Call (214) 747-5240 now or use the quick contact form on this page.
There is never a fee for our legal services unless we obtain a recovery for you.