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Featured Image Wrongful Death

A legal claim for wrongful death can be brought by loved ones seeking justice and financial relief on behalf of a loved one who passed away due to the negligence of another party. This cause of action is not applicable to every accidental death situation. Specific wrongful death elements must be present to succeed on this legal claim. 

In Texas, wrongful death occurs when the injured person would have had the right to file a personal injury lawsuit if they had lived. This also applies in the case of an unborn fetus. 

Wrongful Death Elements

There are four elements to this cause of action that the plaintiff must prove to win a lawsuit. These are similar to the elements that must be established for Texas personal injury claims. Each wrongful death element is crucial to the case. Under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §§ 71.001 to 71.003, if all elements of wrongful death are present, loved ones are entitled to damages. 


The first element of a wrongful death claim is that the defendant owed a duty of care to the person who died. One example of duty of care is the duty to obey traffic safety laws such as stopping at a red light, or not texting while driving.

Breach of Duty

You must next prove that the defendant breached their duty. A breach of duty occurs when a party fails to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise in a similar situation.


The causation element of wrongful death requires you to show that the death was caused by the breach of duty. There are two types of causation:

  • Cause in fact means that the death would not have occurred but for the defendant’s actions; and
  • Proximate cause means that the act was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s breach of duty.

“Fault” is another way to think about the wrongful death element of causation. 


Finally, the negligent party’s actions must have caused damage. In the case of a wrongful death claim, the damages you must prove are those suffered by the loved ones of the deceased person as a result of the death—for example, loss of financial support and loss of companionship.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?

A handful of people are permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These include the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. 

If none of these surviving relatives files the suit within three months of the death, a personal representative of the estate may file the claim instead. The Texas wrongful death statute of limitations give you two years to file the claim after the death of your loved one. 

Proving the Elements of a Wrongful Death Suit

Keeping accurate records of all the events surrounding the death of your loved one is the first step in building a successful case that meets all wrongful death elements. This includes accident reports, medical records, autopsy reports, and more. These documents can be difficult to compile as well as heartbreaking, but they are necessary. Your legal team will be able to guide you through this process, as well as conduct an investigation to determine the defendant’s level of culpability. 

Our legal team at The Zimmerman Law Firm has over 85 years of combined experience representing clients with their personal injury and wrongful death cases. We can help you determine the value of your claim and the best way for you to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for your free consultation. 


What Are the Elements of Wrongful Death in Texas?

There are four elements of wrongful death. These elements include duty, breach of duty, causation, and damage. Each element must be present to bring a cause of action. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?

The decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and parents are all eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. If these surviving family members do not file within three months of the death, a personal representative of the estate may file the claim instead.

How Can an Attorney Assist in Your Wrongful Death Case?

An experienced wrongful death attorney will determine the value of your case, investigate the death, gather proof of the negligent action that caused the death, negotiate with insurance companies, timely file paperwork, and represent you at trial if necessary.

Author Photo

Michael Zimmerman

Michael was born in Houston, Texas. His education at Baylor and Texas State Universities earned him a Bachelor of Science degree in 1987. His major was in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry. He finished his legal education at Texas Southern University in 1990, earning a Juris Doctorate from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. He was admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 1990.

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