Posted on October 9, 2021
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If your family wishes to file a wrongful death claim in Texas, you must learn how to navigate the legal process. One of the most important things to know is that it is your responsibility as the filing party, or plaintiff, to prove the fault of the party or parties you are blaming for your loved one’s death. You or your attorney must convince an insurance company, judge or jury that the defendant you have named is more likely to be responsible for the wrongful death than not.
What Are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim?
To have grounds for a wrongful death claim in Texas, you must have all of the necessary elements. Surviving family members can only file wrongful death lawsuits in Texas if the circumstances of the death fulfill the state’s definition of wrongful. According to Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code Section 71.002, a wrongful death is one caused by the neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, default or wrongful act of another person or agent.
The majority of wrongful death lawsuits are based on the legal doctrine of negligence. A party has been negligent if they failed to use an acceptable amount of care for a situation, such as a driver failing to pay attention to the road and causing a car accident. In general, proving a wrongful death claim based on negligence requires evidence of three elements: duty, breach and causation.
Duty refers to the duty of care, or the responsibility of the defendant to exercise reasonable care based on the circumstances. A breach can refer to any action or omission that falls short of the applicable duty of care. Causation means that the defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the deceased person’s fatal injuries; that the death would not have happened were it not for the defendant’s actions. Unlike a criminal homicide case, it is not necessary to prove intent to kill in a wrongful death case. Even if the death was an accident, you may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is the Burden of Proof?
As the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit, you have what is called the burden of proof. This means it is your responsibility to prove what you are claiming. The burden of proof changes according to the type of case. In criminal law, for example, it is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest evidentiary standard. In civil law, however, the burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence. This is enough clear and convincing evidence to prove that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for the injury or death being claimed.
What Evidence Is Available in a Wrongful Death Case?
In a wrongful death lawsuit, you or your attorney must prove that the defendant caused your loved one’s death with at least a 50 percent certainty. You must do this using evidence. Evidence can refer to physical proof, documentation, oral statements or circumstantial evidence that supports the claim being made. Some of the most common examples of evidence used in a wrongful death claim in Texas are:
Photographs and videos
Signed eyewitness statements
Testimony from experts
Proof of losses, such as bills and receipts
The burden of proof requires clear evidence that convinces a judge or jury to side with the plaintiff. Collecting and presenting evidence are tasks that an experienced wrongful death attorney in Dallas can help you complete. An attorney can investigate the fatal accident, interview eyewitnesses, request copies of important records and take many other steps to build the most compelling claim possible.
How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Help?
A wrongful death claim can be difficult to handle on your own. Increase your odds of securing fair financial compensation for the devastating loss of your loved one’s life by hiring a wrongful death attorney to represent you. An attorney can help you with the steps that are necessary to prove fault and get justice for your loved one.