Ask a Lawyer: 4 Elements of
Wrongful Death in Texas
The loss of a loved one is always devastating, but it can be even more difficult when the death was caused by negligence on the part of someone else. This is the beginning of a wrongful death case. If you believe that your family is owed compensation, the next step is to call on a wrongful death lawyer in Bryan, Texas to assist you with forming your case.
Ask a Lawyer: 4 Elements of a Wrongful Death in Texas
The first step to winning a wrongful death suit is proving that your loved one's death was wholly or partially caused by negligence on the part of the other person or business. In order to do this, you will need to have a strong basis for your claim of negligence in the legal sense of the word. Wrongful death attorneys in Bryan, TX can help you understand what constitutes negligence on the part of another and what kind of evidence you need to make your claim.
One important thing to note is that negligence does not necessarily have anything to do with the other person's intent, so they cannot claim they didn't mean to cause harm as a defense. Instead, the court will determine whether or not they acted with the level of care that a "reasonable person" would demonstrate. Again, this definition is cloudy and is best discussed with a knowledgeable attorney.
2. Breach of Duty
The next part of a wrongful death suit is showing both that the other party had a duty to your loved one, and that they failed to uphold it. This is easiest to prove when there is a clear relationship between your loved one and the other party, for instance, a doctor-patient relationship. However, even if there is not a professional relationship, or a clear relationship at all, you can still show breach of duty in other ways. For instance, all drivers have a responsibility to one another while they're on the road.
Proving breach of duty is not as difficult as it sounds, but you will need an attorney who is well-versed in building cases like this. They will know the best way to demonstrate the existence of duty between both parties in the first place, followed by how that duty was breached. Oftentimes, if the other party knows that they have breached their duty, they will attempt to reach a settlement with you out of court to save face and avoid a heavier penalty.
3. Proving Causation With the Help of a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Bryan, Texas
In many cases, a breach of duty is not sufficient to show that the other party was directly responsible for your loved one's death. This is especially true when there is an initial injury that eventually leads to death. To make your case, you will need to show that the injury and death were directly related to the breach of duty, not just tangentially related. In other words, if this one particular negligent decision had not been made, would your loved one still be alive?
Gathering evidence and proving this point can be very difficult legally and emotionally. Even if you feel that causation is obvious, the court may feel differently and ask for further proof. Your attorney will need to prepare you for all possibilities when it comes to court.
After you've made your case and showed that the negligent party is directly responsible for your loved one's death, the final step is assessing the amount of damages your family is owed. The easiest damages to prove are medical expenses, burial expenses, and any personal property damage that might have occurred during the accident. However, the court will also have to assess a value for your pain and suffering, loss of income and earnings potential, and any losses sustained to the family's future inheritance.
Your wrongful death lawyer in Bryan, TX will guide you through the documentation of damages and help set your expectations for what the court can be reasonably expected to accept. This is not an easy conversation to have but could help you get your bearings and prepare for the final outcome of the case, especially if your family is depending on a settlement to cover final expenses.
Understand More About Your Case
These are the four main aspects of any wrongful death case in Texas. The first three parts of your case are all legal concepts that require detailed documentation in order to reach the fourth step. Only after you have proven that the other party was negligent and responsible for the wrongful death can you move on to assessing the total damages that you are asking for. If your family is seeking assistance with a wrongful death suit, it is best to contact an attorney immediately to start gathering evidence.