June 7, 2018
In May, one teen allegedly used a shotgun and .38 caliber revolver in a shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Ten people died in the shooting.
The parents of a teenage male killed in the shooting have filed a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit against the alleged gunman.
The lawsuit claims that the alleged shooter’s parents gave him access to the firearms used in the shooting, and that they did not offer secure protections against his access to the weapons. The governor of Texas has said that the alleged shooter’s father provided access to the firearms.
Do the parents have a strong case? What does it mean to file a wrongful death suit?
In this post, we’re going to tell you more about how wrongful death lawsuits work in Texas.
The Law on Wrongful Death Claims in Texas
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed under Texas statute 71.002 if an individual’s death was caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of another person.
Who Can File
The law limits who can file a wrongful death claim. These people have the right to file a claim:
- Surviving spouse
- Adopted child with full adoptive rights
- Personal representative or executor of the estate, if rightful members fail to file within three months of the death
In Texas, siblings are ineligible for filing wrongful death claims.
How a Wrongful Death Case Differs from a Criminal Case
In a criminal case, a convicted defendant is punished with incarceration, fines, probation, restitution and other penalties. In a civil case such as a wrongful death case, the plaintiff seeks monetary compensation only.
However, both criminal and civil charges can be filed in certain wrongful death cases.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Case
Family members can file for financial losses incurred due to the wrongful death. Losses can include the following:
- Lost income
- Lost maintenance
- Lost services
- Lost support
- Lost counsel
- Lost advice
- Lost companionship
- Lost inheritance
- Mental pain and suffering
Family members may also file for exemplary, or punitive, damages in certain cases of negligence or gross misconduct. Exemplary damages are intended to discourage the defendant from repeating the negligent behavior.
The court will determine the suffering of individual family members and award damages accordingly. Awarded damages are not subject to the debts of the deceased person.
Filing Restrictions for Wrongful Death Claims
In Texas, a wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of death. Filing after the deadline could result in a forfeit of all potential compensation.
Deciding to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you need to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, you need an experienced Texas injury attorney to advocate on your behalf. You need a lawyer who treats people with care and respect when they are in a state of duress. You also need an attorney who is not afraid to fight for full compensation.
A skilled lawyer will understand if exemplary damages will make a difference in your case. You can depend on a law firm who has successfully handled numerous wrongful death cases in the past.
Call today for your free consultation. We will look over the facts of your case and let you know what options you have available to you.
About the Author:
Jeff Hampton has been practicing law in Texas in 2005, first in the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor, and now as a private attorney with the Hampton Eppes Law Group, protecting the rights of Texans who have suffered injury due to negligence or are facing criminal charges. His success in helping people with their legal troubles has been recognized by clients and peers alike, with a Top Attorney designation and 10/10 Superb Rating on Avvo, and a place on the National Trial Lawyers list of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers.