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How to File a Wrongful Death Claim

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Wrongful death is a tragedy that can befall a family after a fatal motor vehicle accident, workplace accident, fall, criminal assault or many other types of deadly accidents. The civil justice system in Texas provides a way for surviving family members to seek financial compensation for the wrongful deaths of loved ones. Although a lawsuit is not the perfect solution, it could lead to important compensation for you and your family during this difficult time. Find out how to file a wrongful death claim in your county with a Dallas personal injury attorney.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

First, determine if you have the ability to bring a wrongful death claim in Texas. A wrongful death claim is a civil cause of action that seeks to hold someone responsible for the fatal injury of a plaintiff’s family member. You may have grounds for a lawsuit if the recent death of someone close to you fulfills the definition of wrongful death according to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 71.002.

State law defines wrongful death as an injury related to someone’s wrongful act, neglect, default, unskillfulness or carelessness, that causes death. In most cases, if the deceased person would have been able to file a personal injury claim had the injury not been fatal, survivors can file wrongful death claims for compensation. You might be able to file after any preventable accident that takes the life of your loved one in Texas.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit in Texas?

Next, find out if you are one of the parties permitted to demand compensation for wrongful death in Texas. Laws in many different states are strict when it comes to who may and may not bring wrongful death suits. In Texas, these parties are the deceased individual’s surviving spouse, child or parents. These parties may file separately or together as a group. If these parties do not exist or do not file within three months of the date of death, a personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file instead. The only exception is if a family member expressly forbids the representative to bring a claim.

What Is the Time Limit to File?

Act fast to hire a lawyer and take the first steps toward obtaining compensation after the death of someone close to you. Waiting too long could hurt your chances of recovering financially. If you miss the deadline to bring a claim, you will be permanently unable to hold the defendant accountable. In Texas, the deadline (statute of limitations) is two years from the date your loved one died, with limited exceptions. Contact an attorney before the end of your window to make sure you retain the right to file.

How Do You File a Claim?

Once you have confirmed you have all the elements of a wrongful death lawsuit and the legal right to bring a claim, file the paperwork to initiate the process. Start by hiring a wrongful death lawyer in Texas to help you with your case. A lawyer can handle paperwork and legal red tape for you while you spend time with your family during this hard time. A lawyer can also make sure your family does not settle for less than the claim is worth with an insurance company.

You or your attorney will draft a demand letter to send to the insurance company of the allegedly at-fault party. The demand letter will explain why you believe the defendant named is responsible for causing your loved one’s death and how much money your family is seeking to resolve the claim. A lawyer can make sure you get the wording correct in your demand letter. Submit the letter to the insurer and wait for a response. Acceptance will lead to settlement negotiations, while denial will give you the ability to take your wrongful death claim to court in Dallas County. An attorney can help you regardless of which path your claim takes.

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