City Lawsuits for Wrongful Death: Can Someone Sue a City in Texas for Wrongful Death?
The death of a loved one is always tragic. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s fault, you may be considering taking legal action, but can you sue the city of Texas?
City lawsuits for wrongful death claims are complex, and the answer is not always clear.
It depends on many factors, including the circumstances of the death and the relationship between the victim and the person at fault. If you believe you have a wrongful death case against the City of Texas, speak with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your legal options.
Read on for more details.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to carelessness or the intentional actions of someone else. For a successful wrongful death claim, the victim’s family must prove that the death is the result of someone else’s dereliction or deliberate acts.
Examples of Wrongful Death
Many different circumstances can lead to wrongful death. Some examples of wrongful death include:
- Workplace accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Car accidents
What Constitutes Cases for City Lawsuits for Wrongful Death?
While many wrongful death cases involve individuals, it is possible to sue a city in Texas for wrongful death. This would be only an option if the death happened due to the neglect of a city employee. For example, if a police officer causes a car accident that results in someone’s death, the victim’s family can sue the city of Texas.
Or if a city worker is responsible for maintaining the safety of a public park and someone died due to a dangerous condition in that park. In that case, the victim’s family can sue the city.
To sue a city in Texas for wrongful death, you must first prove that the death came about as a result of the dereliction of a city employee. This can be challenging, as you will need to show that the employee knew or should have known that their actions could result in death. An experienced attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your case.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim Against a City in Texas?
If you wish to initiate a wrongful death claim against a city in Texas, you must first send a notice of claim to the city. This notice must go out within six months of the victim’s death, including information about the death and the basis for your claim.
After you have sent the notice of claim, the city will have 45 days to investigate your claim. If the city denies your claim, you will have six months to file a lawsuit. It is important to note that this timeline can decrease if you reach an agreement with the city during the claims process.
To recoup damages in wrongful death lawsuits, the victim’s family must prove that the death happened because of someone else’s inaction. This can be challenging because of previously mentioned reasons.
Who Can File a City Lawsuit for Wrongful Death?
In Texas, only certain family members can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. These include the surviving spouse, children, and parents. If the victim was unmarried and had no children, their parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In some cases, the victim’s siblings can take legal action.
Siblings can file a survival claim if they show that they depend on the deceased person for financial support. This is “dependent adult sibling status.” To have dependent adult sibling status, the siblings must be over the age of 18 and unmarried. They must also show that they were financially dependent on the deceased person.
It is important to note that Texas law has a statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This means you must file your wrongful death case within a specific timeframe after the victim’s death. You cannot take legal action if you do not file your lawsuit within this timeframe.
An experienced attorney can help you ensure that your lawsuit happens within the applicable statute of limitations.
What Can a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Recover?
If you are successful in your wrongful death lawsuit, you can recover various damages. These can include the victim’s medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
In some circumstances, the family of the victim can claim punitive damages. Punitive damages punish the person who caused the death and deter others from doing it.
Survival Act Claims
A survival act claim is a type of lawsuit that is executed by the estate of a deceased person. The purpose of a survival claim is to recoup damages that the deceased person suffered before their death. This can include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and lost wages.
Consortium Act Claims
In Texas, the surviving spouse of a victim can file a consortium claim. This claim seeks to recoup damages for the loss of companionship and support. The consortium claim serves to reimburse the surviving spouse for how their life has changed because of the victim’s death. Consortium claims can occur in addition to or instead of a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Can an Attorney Help?
You may be entitled to take legal action if you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s carelessness. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal options and guide you through the process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Your attorney can also help you gather the evidence you need to prove your case and recover the damages you deserve.
No two wrongful death cases are alike, so it is crucial to speak with an attorney with experience handling cases like yours. The attorneys at The Law Offices of George P. Rodriguez have years of experience handling wrongful death lawsuits in Texas.
Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code
In Texas, wrongful death lawsuits are governed by Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code. Certain elements must be met to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a city.
First, the death must have been caused by the dereliction or wrongdoing of another. Second, surviving family members must have suffered damages due to the death. And third, there must be someone legally authorized to bring the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person’s estate.
If these elements are met, you can file a lawsuit against a city in Texas. However, some special rules apply when suing a city for wrongful death. For example, you must give notice of claim to the city within three months of the date of injury or death. If information is not given within this time frame, the lawsuit will likely be dismissed.
Additionally, cities in Texas are immune from lawsuits unless they have expressly waived that protection. If a city has not waived its immunity, you cannot file a valid wrongful death lawsuit against the city, no matter how strong your case is.
What Is Sovereign Immunity?
The doctrine of sovereign immunity protects government entities from lawsuits. This includes cities, counties, and the state of Texas, and this is because you cannot sue the government without its consent.
City lawsuits for wrongful death can only be successful if the city waives its sovereign immunity rights. Cities can do this by purchasing liability insurance or passing a resolution that expressly waives immunity.
Even if a city has waived its sovereign immunity, there are still some cases where action cannot be taken against it. For example, if the death happened because an employee of the city acted within the scope of their employment, the city is not liable.
How Much Will I Get?
The damages you can recover in a wrongful death lawsuit will depend on the facts of your case. If you are successful in your lawsuit, you may be able to recover economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages reimburse you for the financial losses incurred due to the death. This can include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, lost wages, and loss of future earnings.
Noneconomic damages compensate for the non-financial losses you have incurred. This can include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and mental anguish.
In some cases, punitive damages may also be available. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate you for your losses, and instead, they punish the wrongdoer and deter future misconduct.
Get Help with Texas Law
While filing city lawsuits for wrongful death in Texas is possible, specific rules and restrictions apply. Texas Law dictates that a lawsuit must meet specific elements for it to happen. Furthermore, cities in Texas enjoy sovereign immunity from lawsuits unless they have this expressly waived.
Morgan Legal Group PLLC has experience handling wrongful death lawsuits against cities in Texas. Schedule a free consultation with us today if you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s carelessness.
We will help you navigate the legal process and fight for the compensation you deserve.