Losing a loved one is never easy, but when it happens suddenly and violently due to the recklessness or negligence of someone else, the shock and grief is often overwhelming. Depending on the circumstances, justice may not come through the criminal justice system.
If you find yourself in this position, you could search for the justice and closure you need through a Texas civil court. Like others before you, filing a wrongful death claim is about more than just money -- it's about holding the party or parties legally responsible for the death of your loved one responsible for your loss.
What makes up a wrongful death claim?
One of the major advantages of filing a civil claim is that the burden of proof is not as stringent as it is in a criminal proceeding. It's not necessary for you to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, you must only prove your claim by a preponderance of the evidence, which involves proving the following in court:
- That your loved one died
- That the negligence or intentional actions of another person led to the death of your loved one
- That you suffered monetary losses due to your loss
Unless you file your claim within three months of the death, the personal representative or executor of the estate of your loved one must file it. You need to know that you or the estate must file a wrongful death claim within two years. After that time, you will not have the opportunity to pursue compensation through the civil courts.
What kind of damages could you receive?
Some of the damages in a wrongful death claim are obvious, such as the medical bills, and funeral and burial costs, but others require careful calculation. Even though the life of your loved one is priceless, in order to provide you with the compensation you deserve, the court will need to put a monetary value on his or her life. In order to do so, the court takes the following factors into consideration when calculating damages if you prove your claim:
- The age of your loved one
- The loss of his or her services and support to you
- The earning capacity of your family member
- The loss of your potential inheritance
- The condition of your loved one
- The character of your family member
- The life expectancy of your loved one had he or she lived
- The intelligence and health of your family member at the time of death
The court will consider other factors as well, depending on the circumstances. The above only represents the usual considerations. Even though an award of damages would certainly prove useful and necessary, you could also receive closure for yourself and justice for your loved one through a successful claim, which could help you process your grief and move forward.