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When is a Death Considered Wrongful in Texas?


A wrongful death claim is filed to seek damages from an individual or company whose negligent or intentional actions caused a person’s death. According to Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code,

“A person is liable for damages arising from an injury that causes an individual’s death if the injury was caused by the person’s or his agent’s or servant’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.”

The family or beneficiaries of the deceased victim can recover several types of damages, both economic and non-economic, in a wrongful death action, including:

  • Loss of consortium
  • Lost future earnings
  • Lost wages
  • Funeral costs
  • Medical expenses
  • Mental anguish
  • Pain and suffering

In cases where the victim’s death is caused by “the willful act or omission or gross negligence of the defendant,” exemplary or punitive damages may be recovered as well. Texas law defines gross negligence as:

“An act or omission which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and of which the actor has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved, but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.”

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