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What must you prove in a wrongful death action?

If your spouse or other close relative dies in Texas as the result of the negligence or wrongdoing of someone else, you can sue that person for the wrongful death of your loved one. As FindLaw explains, a wrongful death action represents a civil suit in which you ask for monetary damages to recompense you for the financial losses you suffered and will continue to suffer due to your loved one’s untimely and premature death.

You must prove all of the following in order to win your lawsuit:

  • That the defendant owed a duty of care to your loved one
  • That (s)he failed to live up to that duty and instead breached it
  • That this breach resulted in the wrongful death of your loved one
  • That the breach represented the proximate cause of death
  • That the death, in turn, caused you compensable monetary damages

Types of damages

If you prevail in your wrongful death action, you can expect to receive both economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages such as your loved one’s funeral expenses represent those which have a precise amount. Conversely, the jury must determine the amount of noneconomic damages they will award you since no one can place a precise dollar amount on them. Noneconomic damages include such things as the following:

  • Your loss of your loved one’s current and future financial support
  • Your loss of your loved one’s love and companionship
  • Your loss of your loved one’s guidance
  • Your loss of your loved one’s potential inheritances

In addition to economic and noneconomic damages, the jury may award you punitive damages as well. Punitive damages represent an amount above your economic and noneconomic damages that the jury awards you as a penalty against the defendant if his or her actions in causing your loved one’s wrongful death were especially egregious or malicious.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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