Texas Wrongful Death Lawyer
Identifying an attorney as soon as possible after someone you love has been killed due to another’s negligence is vital. While no amount of money or assistance from an attorney can help you repair the past and undo the damage that has been done, consulting with a lawyer may be the first important step towards protecting your interests and giving you peace of mind about the future.
No family member should have to bury a love done and deal with the grief as well as the financial challenges associated with losing a breadwinner. Unfortunately, this is a reality for far too many people across Texas who have lost their loved ones in preventable accidents such as slip and fall injuries, on the job accidents, vehicle crashes and more. The Texas statutes enable surviving family members to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against a person who could be categorized as liable for the injuries sustained. Any wrongful death action can be brought because of neglect, unskillfulness, default or carelessness, in which one party’s actions cause the death of another.
How Does a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas Work?
Only certain individuals are empowered to bring a wrongful death claim in Texas. The surviving parents, children and a spouse can initiate a wrongful death claim. They can file as a group or one person may file individually.
If the parents, children or spouse fail to file a wrongful death claim no later than three months after the decedent’s death, the executor or the personal representative can file the claim instead. Adult children may also file wrongful death claims because of the death of a parent in Texas. Furthermore, adopted children may be empowered to file wrongful death lawsuits.
Texas law does not enable surviving siblings to initiate a wrongful death claim because of the loss of another sibling. In a wrongful death claim, an attorney should be retained to draft the initial paperwork. The personal representative or surviving family members need to file the claim directly and liability in the claim is expressed in terms of monetary damages. If criminal charges have been filed in connection with the debt, the decision to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the surviving family members is a separate action. There are a few different stages associated with a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas and not every wrongful death claim requires the filing of a lawsuit in order to receive full compensation.
The pre-litigation stage initiates when a decedent’s personal representative has to complete critical tasks such as setting up the estate at the courthouse, getting a personal injury attorney, and allowing that attorney to conduct an appropriate investigation.
The sooner that you retain an attorney to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s wrongful death, the more relevant the evidence in the case will be.
After your attorney has gathered all of the appropriate evidence for you to make an informed decision about which parties are entitled to financial recovery, the individuals who are named as responsible in the lawsuit should be put on notice and insurance information should be obtained. This may be the end of a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas in the event that the insurance company is responsible and may pay out sooner than a traditional lawsuit.
The litigation phase is the next step of the wrongful death lawsuit if you did not conclude it previously. Parties are unable to settle wrongful death lawsuits in some cases without suing one or more of the responsible parties. Litigation begins when one party files a lawsuit against other parties, typically referred to as a complaint or a writ of summons.
Settlement discussions may be the next phase of the case in which the attorney or the insurance companies representing the defendants may suggest opportunities to resolve a lawsuit outside of court.
Settlement can happen at any of the other stages of the lawsuit including discovery, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, depositions, pre-trial phases and trial or arbitration. Properly handling and investigating a wrongful death lawsuit requires an experienced attorney in Texas to assist you with the process.
Do I Need a Texas Wrongful Death Attorney?
Wrongful deaths can be extremely complicated particularly when insurance companies are involved. Retaining a wrongful death lawyer in Texas will help you to move through the various phases of your legal claim and understand whether or not a settlement offer is in your best interests.
As a grieving family member, you have enough things to worry about after losing a loved one and having an attorney to negotiate for you and help to provide you with further assistance through the process can ease your concerns and make it simpler to handle a legal claim. An attorney can help you with recovering damages in your case and answer your questions over the duration of the trial.
Types of Wrongful Death Injuries That Happen in Texas
There are a number of different causes of wrongful death claims, all of which are initiated by someone else’s wrongful or negligent act that ultimately leads to the death of your loved one. The person does not have to die at the scene of the accident in order to be qualified for a wrongful death claim. For example, someone may sustain severe injuries in a commercial trucking accident and survive for several days or weeks before ultimately passing away. The family members of that loved one would still be entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death lawsuits in Texas include:
- Medical malpractice
- Vehicle accidents
- Slip and fall injuries
- Construction and on the job accidents
How Does a Wrongful Death Claim Work?
A wrongful death claim works by consulting with an experienced Texas wrongful death lawyer at the outset of your case to file the appropriate paperwork. From that point on, your attorney will be involved in gathering the relevant evidence and preparing it to present in court, at any point during this time after you have filed the initial paperwork to initiate the claim. The other side may present you with settlement offers. Your lawyer will run interference to present these settlement offers to you and to help you determine whether or not they are in your best interests.
In the event you are able to settle outside of court, your litigation will discontinue once you have signed and accepted a settlement agreement. If you are not able to come to terms of agreement with the other parties outside of court, you will need to be prepared for the various stages of trial including hearing of motions, depositions, and the trial itself.
Texas Wrongful Death Statistics
Among the statistics associated with wrongful death in Texas, research shows that:
- Every two and a half hours, one person is killed in a car accident within the state
- 50 percent of the people killed in motorcycle accidents in TX were not wearing helmets in the crash
- In 2014, more than 50% of fatal accidents happened in rural counties in Texas
- Nearly 500 pedestrians are killed in accidents each year
- Nearly 500 people are killed in distracted driving accidents in Texas
Accidents that lead to wrongful death happen all too often in Texas. Without a Texas wrongful death lawyer to guide you through the process, you might be unaware of your rights and the next steps to protect your right to a legal claim. Not knowing where to start is a common challenge faced by surviving family members, but a caring Texas wrongful death lawyer can help you file a legal claim to recover compensation after you’ve lost a loved one.
Texas Laws Regarding Wrongful Death
Texas laws clarify what qualifies as wrongful death as well as who can bring a wrongful death claim. The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code chapter 71 allows that wrongful death claims can be filed by certain individuals if a loved one’s act was caused by someone else’s carelessness, default, neglect, unskillfulness, or a wrongful act. Wrongful death claims can be filed only by particular members of the decedent’s family. This includes children, the surviving spouse, and parents of the decedent. There are no claims for siblings under Texas law.
Chapter 71 also may allow recovery of damages for the estate of the decedent. These are recoverable survival damages and are separate from a wrongful death claim. Furthermore, the Texas laws stipulate that you have a maximum of two years to file a legal claim for your loved one’s wrongful death. There are very few limited exceptions to this rule and the best practice is to consult with an experienced Texas wrongful death attorney at the outset of your case. Damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit include lost earning capacity; lost love, comfort, and companionship in society; mental and emotional anguish; lost care and lost inheritance. Exemplary damages may be available in some very particular cases. Consulting with your Texas wrongful death lawyer can help you to clarify this.
Why Choose Our Firm?
Reyna Law Firm has extensive experience handling wrongful death claims and offers a stellar reputation across the region for handling your case with compassion and care. We focus on:
- Comprehensive investigations to determine liability
- Handling negotiations with insurance companies and other settlement opportunities
- Preparing your case for trial including depositions and hearings
- Presenting an aggressive case on you behalf to hold a responsible party accountable for your loss
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT WRONGFUL DEATH ACCIDENT CLAIMS
Any individual who is successful in a wrongful death claim may be able to recover exemplary and actual damages. Exemplary damages are associated with a defendant’s gross negligence or willful act, whereas actual damages include mental anguish, financial loss, loss of inheritance, and the loss of positive benefits from the death of a family member.
You must be able to illustrate that you are a statutory beneficiary of the individual who was killed such as a child, parent, or the deceased individual’s spouse. You must also illustrate that the defendant’s wrongful act caused the decedent’s death.
Under the Texas survival statutes, a deceased person’s estate representative or heir can establish a personal injury claim that the decedent would have been able to bring on their own if they had survived the accident. A wrongful death claim is separate because it is filed by the deceased individual’s children, parents or spouse based on the loss of their loved one.
There are two different statutes of limitations that can influence your Texas wrongful death claim. A wrongful death lawyer in Texas can help you to figure out whether or not you are still eligible to file a claim. Typically, you have a maximum of two years to file a wrongful death claim based on the date that the person passed away. Consulting a qualified personal injury attorney in Texas is strongly recommended if you believe you have a wrongful death claim.
The majority of wrongful death lawyers in Texas take these cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they are not paid unless they are successful in your case. This gives you the peace of mind that someone is working hard on your case without the added financial stress.
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*Picture Credits to: Special Assistant, Diane Garza
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