What Elements Must Exist for a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit to be Valid?
If you have lost a loved one as the result of somebody else’s actions (or inaction), either negligently or intentionally, life will never be the same again. Of course, it’s impossible to bring your loved one back to you, but obtaining a fair amount of monetary damages can help to bear some of the brunt of the financial ramifications.
For a successful wrongful death claim in the state of Texas, it is important that certain conditions are met. The cause of death must be the direct result of one of the following elements:
- Lack of skill/knowledge
- Failure to meet a legal obligation
Responsibility may lie with an individual, but it could also lie with a corporation or even a government organization. Key phrases such as “negligence” have very specific legal definitions, so it is important to provide proof that meets the requirements for validity. That’s why you need an attorney like an experienced accidental death lawyers in West Houston with the right experience in this field, who knows the requirements for a valid wrongful death claim inside and out.
How do I prove negligence in a Wrongful Death Case?
“Negligence” is an umbrella term covering several different elements such as carelessness, lack of required skill and failure to meet a legal obligation or duty of care. To prove it effectively, you will need to establish the following:
- A duty of care was owed by the party to the victim
- This duty of care was not upheld
- Failure to uphold the duty of care resulted in the victim’s death
- The death resulted in financial losses and/or mental anguish
Specifically, it is important to first of all establish what the party’s duty of care actually was, then to demonstrate how their behavior was inconsistent with that duty of care. This can be a tricky business. Because every single case is different, there is no uniform approach to evidence-gathering- it can take considerably different forms depending on the type of incident, as well as the type of negligence.
Proving a wrongful act
However, wrongful death claims are not just for accidents. The death of your loved one may have been caused by a malicious, intentional act by the party in question. This could be a physical attack, for instance. While assault resulting in death is certainly a criminal matter, a wrongful death claim is a civil matter which can be handled separately from the criminal case. However, there is often significant overlap in the types of evidence required for criminal and civil cases.
A criminal case needs a great deal more proof to secure a conviction than a wrongful death claim does to secure appropriate damages.
How to prove damages caused by Wrongful Death
Once either negligence or malice on the part of the defendant has been fully established, the next step is to justify the scope of the damages you are seeking as part of your claim.
This means that you will need to determine the value of the monetary compensation you are seeking, and to ensure it is relative to the impact of the loss you have suffered. Naturally, some of your losses will be material- such as lost wages and financial support- but others, such as loss of companionship, are intangible and therefore harder to quantify. This can require the use of expert opinion, so it’s essential to have an attorney with the relevant resources at their disposal to meet these requirements and obtain a fair settlement.
Talk to a Wrongful Death Attorney now
Wrongful death claims can be tricky, so you need to have the right attorney who will be able to provide the appropriate support, and bear the brunt of the many complexities involved. The Stephens Law Firm has a roster of experts with the expertise and the know-how to help you prove your case.