Wrongful Death Lawyer in Lubbock

The death of a family member is always difficult, no matter the cause. The last thing a grieving family wants to think about is taking on the legal system to achieve justice. Liggett Law Group will care about your loss, and we promise that our Lubbock wrongful death lawyers will carefully and compassionately communicate with you about your legal rights.

Overview of Wrongful Death Claims

Certain parties may file wrongful death claims under Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code if the death was caused by the wrongful act, carelessness, recklessness, neglect, or default of another person or entity.

A wrongful death claim exists if a loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligence, such as in a drunk driving accident, distracted driving accident, or semi-truck accident, or being caused by medical malpractice, a defective product, an explosion, or any other type of negligence on the part of another person or entity. Texas law only allows certain parties to file a wrongful death claim.

The wrongful death statute allows only certain designated close relatives of the deceased – their biological or adopted children, their spouse, and their parents – to file a claim against the individual or entity that put in motion or caused the death of their loved one. In addition, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can also represent their interests in a lawsuit.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit brought in a civil court by family members and dependents against those who caused the death of another either knowingly or negligently. It is common for a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit to also face criminal charges. These charges can be brought at the same time or at different times, and the survivors do not need to wait for a criminal case to be decided before filing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court.

Many wrongful death charges stem from criminal charges, but a civil claim may see more success because of the lower burden of proof required. Also, the victim’s surviving loved ones cannot recover financial compensation for their losses in a criminal case – only in a civil case; therefore, they must pay attention to the time limits imposed by law on a wrongful death claim. Every state has a separate wrongful death statute that governs the procedures for filing wrongful death claims. In wrongful death cases, survivors are compensated for the harm, losses, and suffering they have endured as a result of the death of a loved one.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?

Only the surviving spouse, children, and parents of a decedent can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. Whether a marriage was formal or common-law, the surviving spouse may file a wrongful death claim. Even if the couple was separated when one of them was killed, or if the surviving spouse remarried after the other’s death, that spouse can bring a claim.

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by both biological and legally adopted children. Adopted children, on the other hand, are unable to file a claim for their biological parents. Adult children may file a wrongful death claim. Biological parents, as well as those who have legally adopted a child, all have the right to sue for wrongful death.

Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim

Lawsuits for wrongful death must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. If the surviving spouse, children, or parents do not file a claim within three months of the decedent’s death, the executor or personal representative of the estate may choose to do so. The only potential difficulty with this option occurs if and when all surviving beneficiaries decide they do not want a claim brought for the wrongful death of their loved one.

The wrongful death statutes in Texas limit who can bring the claim in for the death of a loved one. Only those mentioned above can bring a wrongful death claim. This means that grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and/or any other family member are barred from filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This can be a challenge when all of the legally permissible parties who can bring the claim have previously passed away. If that is the case, then only the executor or personal representative of the estate can bring the wrongful death claim. The award then goes directly to the estate to be distributed.

Additionally, long-term unmarried partners, fiancés, stepparents, and foster parents are not permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Furthermore, stepchildren who have gone unadopted cannot bring a suit either.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas Courts

Before delving into the legal aspects of a claim, it’s important to understand what Texas considers a wrongful death. According to Texas wrongful death statutes, you can hold another party liable for damages if they cause the death of a family member due to wrongful acts, neglect, recklessness, or default (failure to fulfill an obligation).

Negligence and wrongful acts are the most common causes that lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. In either scenario, the burden is on those bringing the claim to prove the elements of the cause of action and to persuade the jury that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for your loved one’s death.


When filing a wrongful death claim, negligence is the most common basis for a personal injury lawsuit. The defendant is found negligent when they fail to act in a way or with the same level of care that a reasonable person would act with.

To prove negligence in a wrongful death claim, a plaintiff must prove all four elements of negligence:

  • Duty of care
  • Breach of the duty of care
  • Causation
  • Damages

The defendant or wrongdoer must have had a duty of care to the victim, and in the accident, they must have breached that duty of care. Next, the acts or inactions that caused the breach must be the exact or direct cause of the loved one’s death. Finally, there must have been some sort of damage incurred. In a wrongful death suit, this is the death of the family member and the related resulting losses.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

In successful wrongful death litigation, the court orders the defendant to pay damages to the deceased person’s survivors or estate. The types of damages paid in Texas vary depending on the facts of the case, but the court will calculate the amount based on a number of loss categories, including:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of household income
  • Mental distress
  • Loss of support and maintenance previously provided by the family member
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of companionship

After the lawsuit is resolved, the family receives compensatory damages, also known as pecuniary injuries, to compensate them for their monetary losses. For example, if the family sought professional counseling, the defendant can be ordered to pay for it. These reparations are not limited to monetary compensation.

Some Texas wrongful death lawsuits permit the recovery of exemplary claims, also known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are incurred when a death is caused by intentional or grossly negligent misconduct.

Punitive damages do not simply compensate the family for the money they spent after their loved one died or the other losses they suffered as a result of that death. Instead, they demand that the defendant pay additional restitution to the victim’s family to make an example of the defendant to hopefully prevent future similar conduct.

Common Examples of Wrongful Death Claims

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injury is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Every year, over 160,000 people die as a result of unintentional injuries. The following are the most common types of wrongful death cases:

Auto Accidents

Wrongful death in a car accident can occur for a variety of reasons, including another driver’s negligence or recklessness, or even a manufacturing defect by the automaker. Despite the abundance of information about reckless or unsafe driving, car accidents still occur. When one person’s actions cause the death of another, the deceased’s loved ones may be entitled to compensation for that wrongful death.

Premises Liability

If there is evidence that a property owner’s negligence caused your loved one’s death, premises liability laws may cover a claim for wrongful death. A wrongful death occurs when a person is killed as a result of foreseeable circumstances that a property owner failed to address.

Property owners owe a specific duty of care based on the person’s status on that property. A store owner owes its customers the highest duty of care and must fix any property defects, inspect for any potential hazards, and warn customers of these hazards.

Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian accidents are typically the fault of someone who is distracted, resulting in severe injury, but many of these situations can quickly escalate and result in the loss of life because a pedestrian without protection is no match for the size and force of a motor vehicle. In a wrongful death claim, the surviving family must prove that the other party is to blame for the death and must therefore compensate the surviving dependents.

Bicycle Accidents

A bicycle fatality must be caused by someone’s negligence to be considered wrongful death. A motorist is frequently negligent, causing a cyclist’s death by speeding, driving while distracted, texting and driving, driving intoxicated, or violating other laws. If the motorist is driving a commercial vehicle or is on the job at the time of the bicycle accident, their employer may also be held liable.

Wrongful Death Facts

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of personal injury deaths among people aged 5 to 34. In the United States, approximately 25,000 people die as a result of slip and fall accidents. According to data from the United States Courts, between 200,000 and 400,000 personal injury claims are filed each year. It is estimated that wrongful death claims account for four to eight percent of all personal injury claims. Car accidents are the most common reason for filing a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

Why Family Members Need a Wrongful Death Attorney

A wrongful death lawsuit allows the victim’s surviving spouse, children, parents, and/or other loved ones to seek financial compensation for their losses as a result of the death. An attorney will handle the entire legal process for you, freeing up your time to spend it with your family and on your emotional recovery.

Experienced wrongful death attorneys can assist their clients at every stage of the process to ensure that they receive proper justice. Wrongful death attorneys understand that obtaining justice for the victim is critical for any family who has lost a loved one due to another’s bad acts. Because wrongful death cases can be complicated, having a trial lawyer who is familiar with the applicable laws and has experience successfully resolving cases like yours is essential.

Wrongful death cases typically necessitate a thorough investigation, and attorneys must examine and analyze the entire case, including an investigation of the accident and all surrounding evidence, as well as document review and collection and preparation for trial. Additionally, lawyers can help discuss the claim with insurance adjusters and lead the negotiations with other parties to try and settle the lawsuit outside of the court.

Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney

It is never easy to deal with the unexpected death of a loved one. Managing financial responsibilities while grieving can be stressful. Filing a lawsuit may be the last thing on a loved one’s mind, and they may have no idea where to start.

Experienced personal injury lawyers can explain the steps involved in filing a wrongful death claim and where to begin. Hiring an attorney will alleviate the stress and burden on surviving family members. Liggett Law Group’s experienced and compassionate legal team is here to help. We can answer your questions about a wrongful death lawsuit in a free consultation.


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