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Wrongful Death Attorney

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Chris Rehmet

Claire Tate Rehmet

Tim Tate

Bart Smith

$13,000,000

Gross Recovery

Pedestrian Accident

Wrongful Death

$10,750,000

Gross Recovery

Motorcycle Wreck

Head Injury

$9,500,000

Gross Recovery

Defective Product

Brain Injury

$6,500,000

Gross Recovery

Workplace Accident

Head Injury

Texas Wrongful Death Lawyers

In the state of Texas, wrongful death and survival claims arise when a loved one has been killed by the negligence of another person. If you are experiencing this loss, we know you want answers and accountability. Our attorneys will get you those answers and hold the people responsible to account fully for their actions.

We also understand that you may be facing difficult choices right now, many of which have legal consequences. These include making statements to law enforcement or regulators who are investigating the cause of the death, whether to proceed with an autopsy, and estate issues.

Each of our attorneys have practiced  personal injury law for decades and have handled wrongful death and survival claims as a regular part of their practices. Our attorneys have experience with wrongful deaths caused by large truck wrecks, car wrecks, defective and unsafe products, or an unsafe work environment.  We know the law and understand the issues. We encourage you to call for a free consultation and speak to an attorney who can answer your questions.

In every wrongful death case finding the root cause of the death is extremely important. Thorough investigation is critical to holding negligent parties accountable. Typically there are multiple causes of a death, but some causes hide below the surface.  Finding the root cause is a critical step in holding all the responsible parties accountable.

Can you provide an example of finding the root cause of an accident and how did that help your attorneys in the case?

For instance, our attorneys handled a case where a commercial truck rear ended a passenger auto. The police investigation concluded the driver was not paying adequate attention.  The driver’s company came to the same conclusion.

Driver inattention was only the most apparent cause of the wreck, the real reason was drug use.  During the lawsuit, our lawyers forced the company to turn over time records showing the driver was working too many hours. He was exhausted. Furthermore, his criminal history showed he had a history of methamphetamine use. Our attorney subpoenaed the driver’s prior employers personnel files and found the driver had been fired from a previous job for possessing meth in a company vehicle.

When the driver was confronted with his prior criminal history and employment history, he admitted under oath to using amphetamines to help him stay awake. Furthermore, the head of the company’s human resources department admitted that they did not perform any background checks and, if they had, they never would have hired the driver.  Finally, we deposed several co-workers who said the driver was acting like he was on drugs during the time  leading up to the wreck. 

Finding the root cause in this instance allowed our attorneys to hold the driver and the company truly accountable for the wreck. The case was not just about a driver not paying attention and rear ending another car. The company was overworking their drivers, was negligent in their hiring practices, and negligent in their supervision of the driver. These facts allowed our lawyers to get full compensation for our client. 

What is the wrongful death cause of action in Texas and what types of wrongful death claims do your lawyers typically handle?

In Texas the wrongful death cause of action gives certain surviving family members the right to recover damages for the loss of a loved one. The statute only allows certain family members to recover: surviving parents, a surviving spouse, and any surviving children (including adopted children). Those individuals can recover from any person or company whose wrongful acts caused the death.

The wrongful acts can be any negligent act that Texas law recognizes as actionable. These wrongful acts include large truck wrecks, car wrecks, defective products claims, or dangerous work conditions among others. The wrongful death claims our attorneys most frequently handle are large commercial truck wrecks, car wrecks, drunk drivers and Dram Shop causes of action, and defective products.

What is the survival claim and how is it different from the wrongful death cause of action?

The survival claim is different from the wrongful death cause of action. The survival claim allows the estate of the deceased to recover for those damages that the decedent would have been able to recover if they survived. These include mental anguish, pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral expenses, or any other damages actually sustained by the decedent.

The right to bring the survival cause of action belongs to the representative of the estate of the deceased. Survival causes of actions can also be brought by any heir of the deceased, but our attorneys usually recommend opening a formal probate where a surviving family member can be appointed as a representative of the estate.

Do your attorneys always bring the wrongful death and survival claims in the same lawsuit?

Typically our attorneys will bring the wrongful death claim and the survival claim at the same time and assert both causes of action in any lawsuit. 

There are instances, however, when our lawyers may advise refraining from bringing one or the other. For instance, payment of medical bills is an obligation of the estate, but not the wrongful death claimants. If extensive medical care was rendered before death, then a large lien for medical care might exist. The obligation to pay that lien belongs to the estate and not the wrongful death beneficiaries. Under these circumstances we will consider refraining from bringing the survival claims, and only assert the wrongful death claims. 

There may be other reasons to assert one claim without the other. 

What damages do your attorneys recover for a family member when they assert a wrongful death claim?

Recall that only certain people can bring the wrongful death cause of action in Texas: surviving parents, spouses, and children. Those individuals can recover four basic types of damages. 

The first is pecuniary loss, which is a loss of earnings, household services (such as lawn care or cooking- these sound small but can add up to be a significant economic loss), financial support and maintenance, and any other financial loss resulting from the death which affects the claimant.

The second type of wrongful death damage is mental anguish. The amount of damages will depend on the nature of the relationship between you and the decedent. Close relationships tend to support more damages. 

The third type of wrongful death damages are the loss of companionship and society of a loved one. Again, close relationships tend to support more damages.

Finally, a wrongful death claimant can recover loss of inheritance. This is the amount of money that a decedent would have probably added to the estate had they not died prematurely.

Our attorneys work with experts such as economists and accountants to create a damage model including loss of earnings, loss of household services, and loss of inheritance.

Areas We Serve

McKinney, Sherman, Frisco, Prosper, Allen, Denison, Denton, Gainesville, Bonham, Van Alstyne. Melissa, Anna, Ardmore, Durant, Marietta, Pottsboro, Fannin County, Grayson County, Cooke County, Collin County, Denton, Tarrant County, Dallas County, all of North Texas and South Oklahoma

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Do I have the right in Texas to bring a wrongful death claim if I and my spouse were separated at the time of death?

Yes. As long as you and your spouse were married on the date of death, you are a wrongful death beneficiary and under Texas law you can make a wrongful death claim. The nature of your relationship will, however, impact damages. Our lawyers have handled wrongful death claims for a spouse who was in the process of being divorced at the time of death and gained a substantial recovery for the surviving spouse.   

One important consideration is the survival claim. A spouse usually has the prerogative to be the representative of the estate as well as an heir of the estate if the decedent did not have a will, even if separated or in the process of getting a divorce. Survival claims can have large damages. Our attorneys can help advise you if you were separated from your spouse at the time he or she passed. 

Do I have the right in Texas to bring a wrongful death claim if I and my spouse were common law married at the time of death?

Yes. Texas recognizes common law marriage. Common law marriage occurs when the spouses live together and hold themselves out to the public as being married. Proving common law marriage will depend on evidence showing that both spouses made representations to others that they were married. For instance, our attorneys have used a joint tax return as husband and wife to prove a common law marriage at the time of death. Common law spouses are wrongful death beneficiaries and can bring a wrongful death claim under Texas law. 

In addition, common law spouses will also most likely have the prerogative to represent the estate for any survival cause of action and will be an heir of the estate. Our attorneys can help you navigate the legal issues surrounding common law marriage and wrongful death and survival claims. 

Can I remarry after the death of my spouse and still assert a wrongful death claim in the state of Texas?

Yes. A subsequent marriage does not do away with your status as a spouse on the date of death. You are still a wrongful death beneficiary and can bring a claim for the wrongful death of your spouse if you remarry.  The subsequent marriage, however, may affect the value of your claim. If you have a concern about remarrying and how that might affect a wrongful death claim, please call one of our lawyers. The initial consultation is free. 

Should I request an autopsy? How do you, as my lawyer, use an autopsy in a wrongful death and survival claims?

Autopsies can be emotionally difficult for surviving family members, but they can yield  important evidence in a wrongful death and survival claim. Establishing the cause of death and the time of death can be important evidence which we, as your lawyer, can use in both the wrongful death and survival claims. 

The survival claim allows the estate to recover for conscious pain and suffering, which can be an important part of the damages we seek to recover. The autopsy can be very helpful in showing the time of death and can show that the estate is entitled to recover for pain and suffering. In addition, if the cause of death is in question, the autopsy can establish that the wrongful act in question did in fact cause the death. 

Autopsies can, however, hurt a case. Our lawyers have seen autopsy reports in wrongful death cases that show drug use. Autopsies can also rule out conscious pain and suffering or cast doubt on the cause of death. 

If you have questions about whether to perform an autopsy then we encourage you to call us and consult with one of our attorneys. 

What is an estate and probate and am I required to open an estate to pursue a survival cause of action in Texas?

An estate is how you wrap up the business of a decedent and pass the property of a decedent to his or her heirs. Probate refers to the process of opening an estate and appointing someone to act for the estate. That representative will collect assets, pay debts and pass any property to the heirs. The estate is opened by filing paperwork at the courthouse which will include a will if there was one. 

You are not required to open an estate to pursue a survival claim in Texas. Texas law allows an heir to pursue the survival claim without an estate so long as an estate is not otherwise needed. In order to show an estate is not needed, your lawyer would need to show that there were no debts, that no rulings about distribution of property are needed, and there is no other property to collect.

In practice, If a survival claim is justified, our lawyers will usually advise clients to probate the estate and have a personal representative appointed to pursue the claim. Probating an estate does have some far reaching legal consequences which are beyond the scope of this page. Please call our law firm if you have questions. 

In addition, you are facing issues which have legal consequences, such as interacting with law enforcement or regulators who are investigating the cause of the death, whether to proceed with an autopsy, and estate issues.

On this page we try to answer some of the frequently asked questions about wrongful death and survival claims.This page is written by attorney Christopher Rehmet with input from attorneys Claire Tate Rehmet and Tim Tate.  Each attorney specializes in personal injury and has handled wrongful death and survival claims as a regular part of their practice for thirty years.  We encourage you to call for a free consultation and speak to an attorney who can answer your questions.

Our attorneys have experience with wrongful deaths caused by large truck wrecks, car wrecks, defective and unsafe products, or an unsafe work environment.

In every case finding the root cause of the death is extremely important. Thorough investigation is critical to holding negligent parties accountable. Typically there are multiple causes of a death, but some causes hide below the surface.

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    For instance, our attorneys handled a case where a commercial truck rear ended a passenger auto. The police investigation concluded the driver was not paying adequate attention.  The driver’s company came to the same conclusion.

    Driver inattention was only the most apparent cause of the wreck, the real reason was drug use.  During the lawsuit, our lawyers forced the company to turn over time records showing the driver was working too many hours. He was exhausted. Furthermore, his criminal history showed he had a history of methamphetamine use. Our attorney subpoenaed the driver’s prior employers personnel files and found the driver had been fired from a previous job for possessing meth in a company vehicle.

    When the driver was confronted with his prior criminal history and employment history, he admitted under oath to using meth to help him stay awake. Furthermore, the head of the company’s human resources department admitted that they did not perform any background checks and, if they had, they never would have hired the driver.  Finally, we deposed several co-workers who said the driver was acting like he was on drugs leading up to the wreck. 

    Finding the root cause in this instance allowed our attorneys to hold the driver and the company truly accountable for the wreck. The company was overworking their drivers, was negligent in their hiring practices, and negligent in their supervision of the driver. These facts allowed our lawyers to get full compensation for our client. 

    In Texas the wrongful death cause of action gives certain surviving family members the right to recover damages for the loss of a loved one. The statute only allows certain family members to recover: surviving parents, a surviving spouse, and any surviving children (including adopted children). Those individuals can recover from any person or company whose wrongful acts caused the death.

    The wrongful acts can be any negligent act that Texas law recognizes as actionable. These wrongful acts include large truck wrecks, car wrecks, defective products claims, or dangerous work conditions among others. The wrongful death claims our attorneys most frequently handle are large commercial truck wrecks, car wrecks, drunk drivers and Dram Shop causes of action, and defective products.

    The survival claim is different from the wrongful death cause of action. The survival claim allows the estate of the deceased to recover for those damages that the decedent would have been able to recover if they survived. These include mental anguish, pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral expenses, or any other damages actually sustained by the decedent.

    The right to bring the survival cause of action belongs to the representative of the estate of the deceased. Survival causes of actions can also be brought by any heir of the deceased, but our attorneys usually recommend opening a formal probate where a surviving family member can be appointed as a representative of the estate.

    Typically our attorneys will bring the wrongful death claim and the survival claim at the same time and assert both causes of action in any lawsuit. 

    There are instances, however, when our lawyers may advise refraining from bringing one or the other. For instance, payment of medical bills is an obligation of the estate, but not the wrongful death claimants. If extensive medical care was rendered before death, then a large lien for medical care might exist. The obligation to pay that lien belongs to the estate and not the wrongful death beneficiaries. Under these circumstances we will consider refraining from bringing the survival claims, and only assert the wrongful death claims. 

    There may be other reasons to assert one claim without the other. 

    Recall that only certain people can bring the wrongful death cause of action in Texas: surviving parents, spouses, and children. Those individuals can recover four basic types of damages. 

    The first is pecuniary loss, which is a loss of earnings, household services (such as lawn care or cooking), financial support and maintenance, and any other financial loss resulting from the death which causes the claimant a loss. 

    The second type of wrongful death damage is mental anguish. The amount of damages will depend on the nature of the relationship between you and the decedent. Close relationships tend to support more damages. 

    The third type of wrongful death damages are the loss of companionship and society of a loved one. Again, close relationships tend to support more damages.

    Finally, a wrongful death claimant can recover loss of inheritance. This is the amount of money that a decedent would have probably added to the estate had they not died prematurely. 

    Our attorneys work with experts such as economists and accountants to create a damage model including loss of earnings, loss of household services, and loss of inheritance.

    Yes. As long as you and your spouse were married on the date of death, you are a wrongful death beneficiary and under Texas you can make a wrongful death claim. The nature of your relationship will, however, impact damages. Our lawyers have handled wrongful death claims for a spouse who was in the process of being divorced at the time of death.  

    One important consideration is the survival claim.  A spouse usually has the prerogative to be the representative of the estate as well as an heir of the estate if the decedent did not have a will, even if separated or in the process of getting a divorce. Survival claims can have large damages. Our attorneys can help advise you if you were separated from your spouse at the time her or she passed. 

    Yes. Texas recognizes common law marriage. Common law marriage occurs when the spouses live together and hold themselves out to the public as being married. Proving common law marriage will depend on evidence showing that both spouses made representations to others that they were married. For instance, our attorneys have used a joint tax return as husband and wife to prove a common law marriage at the time of death. Common law spouses are wrongful death beneficiaries and can bring a wrongful death claim under Texas law. 

    In addition, common law spouses will also most likely have the prerogative to represent the estate for any survival cause of action and will be an heir of the estate.  Our attorneys can help you navigate the legal issues surrounding common law marriage and wrongful death and survival claims. 

    Yes. A subsequent marriage does not do away with your status as a spouse on the date of death.  You are still a wrongful death beneficiary and can bring a claim for the wrongful death of your spouse if you remarry.  The subsequent marriage, however, may affect the value of your claim. If you have a concern about remarrying and how that might affect a wrongful death claim, please call one of our lawyers. The initial consultation is free.

    Autopsies can be emotionally difficult for surviving family members, but they can yield  important evidence in a wrongful death and survival claim.  Establishing the cause of death and the time of death can be important evidence which we, as your lawyer, can use in both the wrongful death and survival claims. 

    The survival claim allows the estate to recover for conscious pain and suffering, which can be an important part of the damages we seek to recover. The autopsy can be very helpful in showing the time of death and can show that the estate is entitled to recover for pain and suffering. In addition, if the cause of death is in question, the autopsy can establish that the wrongful act in question did in fact cause the death. 

    Autopsies can, however, hurt a case. Our lawyers have seen autopsy reports in wrongful death cases that show drug use. Autopsies can also rule out conscious pain and suffering or cast doubt on the cause of death. 

    If you have questions about whether to perform an autopsy then we encourage you to call us and consult with one of our attorneys. 

    An estate is simply a means of wrapping up the business of a decedent and passing the property of a decedent to his or her heirs. Probate refers to the process of opening an estate, appointing someone to act for the estate. That representative will collect assets, pay debts and pass any property to the heirs. The estate is opened by filing paperwork at the courthouse which will include a will if there was one. 

    You are not required to open an estate to pursue a survival claim in Texas. Texas law allows an heir to pursue the survival claim without an estate so long as an estate is not otherwise needed. In order to show an estate is not needed, your lawyer would need to show that there were no debts, that no rulings about distribution of property are needed, and there is no other property to collect.

    In practice, If a survival claim is justified, our lawyers will usually advise clients to probate the estate and a personal representative appointed to pursue the claim. Probating an estate does have some far reaching legal consequences which are beyond the scope of this page. Please call our law firm if you have questions. 

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    Claire Tate Rehmet
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