The Texas Wrongful Death Guide was created by Willumsen Law Firm PC to help residents who have suffered from a wrongful death obtain compensation.
The loss of a loved one is never easy, but when the accident could have been prevented, it’s even more unbearable. If you are grieving the death of a loved one, we are so very sorry. Our Texas wrongful death attorneys can’t know your grief, but they want to bring you some peace of mind by getting you the compensation you are owed. Call us today for your free consultation.
How to Tell if You Have a Case for Wrongful Death
Losing a loved one is traumatic under the best of circumstances. If you think the death could have been prevented, it’s understandable to want to investigate and get answers.
Wrongful death in Texas can be considered if a person’s death is due to someone else’s carelessness, negligence, or unskillfulness. Wrongful death may also be caused by the failure to act, such as when a company doesn’t provide adequate safety measures at an event and a person attending the event is killed as a result.
Just a few examples of wrongful death include accidents such as trucking and automotive crashes, slips and falls, drownings, and work-related incidents. If you have any doubt about whether or not your loved one’s death qualifies as wrongful, contact our Texas wrongful death attorneys as soon as possible to find out. Our attorneys will take the time to go over the details of your case with you and advise you on possible compensation for your loss. Your lawyers will investigate the cause of the death and give you the answers you are looking for.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In the state of Texas, a wrongful death claim can be filed by the surviving spouse, parents, or children of the deceased loved one. A claim may be filed by a single person or a group filing together. The executor of the estate can also file the claim on behalf of the Estate of the deceased. There are exceptions, however. If you need more information about the possibility of filing a wrongful death claim, call our Texas wrongful death attorneys for a free consultation. We’ll take the time and care to give you the answers you need.
What is My Wrongful Death Case Worth?
Predicting the value of a wrongful death case is difficult without a careful look at the details involved, but generally speaking, the value of your claim will depend upon the damages you have suffered because of your loved one’s death. An experienced wrongful death attorney has the skills to assess all the aspects of your loss to establish a fair value for your case. If you have questions about the value of your case, contact our Texas wrongful death attorneys today for a free consultation.
What Kind of Damages are Available?
In most cases, the compensation your attorney will fight to get for you and your family will fall into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages represent the financial impact the loss of your loved one has had, and will have, for the family. This not only includes funeral and burial costs, but the support you will lose in the future from the loss of your loved one’s wages, as well as the loss of a potential inheritance they can no longer accrue.
Non-economic damages, though less concrete, are no less devastating. There are numerous ways a family can be harmed that fall into this category, just a few of which include pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.
Punitive damages, also called exemplary damages, may also be a consideration in addition to economic and non-economic damages if the death was caused purposely or through gross negligence, meaning extreme disregard for the safety of others. Such damages often accompany crimes in which a person is killed, and can be pursued even if the liable party is also being charged in criminal court.
Punitive damages are intended to show lack of tolerance for such behavior. In most cases, the court decides how damages are to be divided among surviving loved ones, who are to be compensated in proportion to the pain and suffering the death inflicted on them.
Our attorneys want to get started as quickly as possible to bring you full and fair compensation for your wrongful death case. Even if they get started right away, though, the more time they have to research and go through the details of your specific case, the stronger it will be. They will probably not be able to help you if you call them a few days short of the filing deadline. The best thing you can do to get the justice your family deserves is call our Texas wrongful death attorneys as soon as you can for a free consultation.
Is There a Limit on Damages for My Case?
The time limit in Texas allows for a wrongful case to be filed within two years of the deceased loved one’s death. There are exceptions to this limit, but they are very specific. If you have any questions about what is required to get an extension on the filing deadline, call our Texas wrongful death attorneys today for your free consultation. We’ll go over the specific aspects of your case and give you guidance on making a decision that is right for you and your family.
Who is Liable in a Wrongful Death Case
Making a successful wrongful death case requires identifying who is responsible for the death, and that your loved one’s death was the result of something the liable party did or failed to do. This involves showing that if the responsible party had acted differently, your loved one would not have died. Our attorneys have the experience and resources to identify the party who should be held accountable, and research, prepare, and clearly present the facts of your claim. We will work diligently to build a strong, compelling case for justice.
What if the Accident Also Resulted in the Death of the Defendant?
If the person responsible for the death of your loved one was also killed in the accident, for instance, in the case of an automobile collision, a wrongful death claim may be brought against the estate of the responsible party. Our Texas wrongful death attorney are experienced in handling cases like this and know the best way to proceed. Contact us today.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim for a Texan Who Died Out of State
Most people assume that if they lose a loved one who is from Texas in a wrongful death that takes place out of the state, they do not have a wrongful death claim. There are circumstances, however, in which a wrongful death case may still be pursued. Don’t forfeit your right to compensation before getting the answers you need. Contact our Texas wrongful death attorneys today for clear and thorough guidance on the viability of your claim.
If Your Claim Involves the Government of Texas
If the death of your loved one involves a municipality or other government entity, there are specific guidelines to follow in presenting a wrongful death claim. There also may be limitations on damages that can be received.
Claims involving the government also often have much shorter time windows for filing. Some entities allow six months for filing instead of 24, but some municipalities, as few as 45 days. Examples like these illustrate the urgency of contacting an attorney if the death of your loved one involves a government entity in Texas. Our Texas wrongful death will give you guidance on what your options are and help to present the strongest possible case if you decide to move forward. Let our attorneys take on the moving parts of your wrongful death case so you can focus on your loved ones during this painful time.
Mistakes You Can Avoid
When you are grieving the loss of a loved one, it’s a given that you are in a vulnerable place. It’s tough to remember that despite the insurance adjuster’s sympathetic overtures, they are at work and calling to get as much information from you as possible to devalue your claim. During the conversation, the adjuster will almost certainly want to get a recorded statement. This is not the time to take on communications with the insurance company alone.
Giving a recorded statement to the insurance company can lead to another mistake — negotiating with insurance companies on your own. In the immediate aftermath of a wrongful death, you can expect the insurance company to try to get you to accept a shamefully, lowball settlement offer. Once you’ve spoken to them, they can use the information you’ve provided to convince you your case is not worth what you thought it was. Whether this is true or not, the more information you give them, the tougher it will be to secure adequate settlement offers.
Whether you’ve been presented with an offer yet or not, the best thing you can do is let our Texas wrongful death attorney handle communications with the insurance company for you. We know all the tactics these companies use to avoid paying out claims, and we have the experience to deal with them. Even if you are a master negotiator under normal circumstances, your vulnerability during this painful time will hinder your ability to negotiate at the level you are used to and that will be required to take on the insurance company.
Frequently Asked Wrongful Death Questions
How do I choose the best attorney for wrongful death in Texas?
If you are searching for a wrongful death attorney here in Texas, sadly that means that one of your loved ones has passed away. One of the most common questions that people in your situation have is, “How do I choose the best wrongful death lawyer here in Texas?” The decision to choose a particular lawyer is a very important decision and may be the most important decision in your case.
What we suggest is that you interview at least two personal injury trial lawyers. Ask the following questions:
1. “Are you board-certified in personal injury trial law?”
2. “What actual experience do you have trying cases to a jury?”
3. “Will you give me your personal cell phone number so we can stay in close communication throughout the case?”
If you choose to contact us for a free consultation, we’ll be happy to answer those and any other questions that you may have.
How long does a wrongful death case last in Texas?
A couple of years ago, we represented a family whose 8-year-old son had drowned in an apartment complex pool. One of the questions that the family asked was, “How long will it take to resolve the case?” The answer to that question is it depends.
First of all, can you prove that the apartment complex, in this particular case for example, was legally responsible for the drowning? Is the apartment complex going to accept responsibility for the drowning? If the answers to those questions are yes, the apartment complex is responsible and will accept responsibility, then the case can get resolved in a fairly short period of time. If the apartment complex, however, refuses to accept responsibility or is not legally responsible, then it can take some time to move the case, and a lawsuit will probably be required.
During the lawsuit, it’s the lawyer’s job to establish the apartment complex’s legal responsibility. When that has been accomplished through witnesses, through records that we subpoena, and so on and so forth, then the case can get resolved. If not, a jury will make that decision, and that can take up to 18 months.
If you have any other questions, please contact us for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to discuss this and any other issue that you may have.
How do I determine the value of a wrongful death case in Texas?
Over the last almost 30 years, we’ve handled a number of wrongful death cases. One of the questions that the family usually has in these cases is, “How do we determine the value of the death of my child, my parent, or my brother or sister?” In order to determine the value in a wrongful death case, we should say at the outset that there is no amount of money that will actually do any good to the family in terms of compensation for the loss of a child, for example.
From a legal standpoint, the way you determine the value of a wrongful death case is to evaluate the loss that that person and the family have suffered as a result of the death. One of the elements is the loss of income to the family. If a husband dies in a wrongful death, then the family has lost the husband’s income, for example. That will be one of the elements that you would look at to determine the value of the wrongful death case.
You have to also consider that there are oftentimes multiple family members who have the right to make a claim. Those claims will be based on the age of the family member and their relationship to the person that passed away, so there are a multitude of variables that come into play in determining the value of a particular wrongful death case. If you contact us for a free consultation, we’ll be happy to discuss those variables as they apply in your particular case.
What benefits are available on a wrongful death claim?
One of the questions we often get when representing families that have lost a loved one is, “What benefits or compensation are available to the family in a wrongful death case?” It’s important to separate two particular claims. The estate has its own claims. For example, if the person suffered before they died, then the estate is entitled to be compensated for that suffering.
Other compensation that you can ask for are things such as funeral expenses. Maybe the person was taken away in a helicopter from the scene. Maybe the person made it to the hospital and passed away at the hospital. You can recover those expenses, as well.
The family members (e.g., the husband or wife or the children) have their own individual claims. The value of those claims are based on the relationship between the person that passed away and the family member making the claim. Children, for example, typically, because of their age, will have a larger claim, let’s say, because of the number of years that they have lost the affection and the love of their parent in that particular example.
If you contact us for a free consultation, we’ll be happy to discuss the particulars of your case with you and answer any questions that you may have.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
A few weeks ago, we had a chance to speak to a very nice lady whose brother had passed away in an accident. She asked, “Can I make a claim? My brother passed away.” Unfortunately, brothers and sisters cannot make a claim for the wrongful death of a sibling. The people that can make claims in Texas include the children of the person that passed away, the parents of the person that passed away, and of course the spouse of the person that passed away. Keep in mind, however, that when a person passes away, they become a legal estate. A sibling can represent the estate, if that is something that the family thinks is in the best interest of everyone.
If you have any questions on this topic, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to answer these questions and any other questions that you may have.
Will my wrongful death case go to trial?
We just recently had a long conversation with a client whose father had passed away in an accident that was someone else’s fault. The question they had was, “Do we have to go to trial? We really don’t want to relive this whole episode.” Our answer was, “Most likely, the case will be resolved without the need for a trial.” However, there’s always going to be a percentage of cases that have to be tried.
The reason they have to be tried is typically because the insurance company representing the person or business that caused the death of your loved one is either refusing to accept responsibility or offer reasonable compensation. If those two things are involved in a particular case, then there is a likelihood that the case may have to go to trial. In our experience, approximately 90% of cases do get resolved without the need for a trial.
If you have any questions, please contact me for a free consultation and I’ll be happy to discuss these issues and any other questions that you may have.
What does it cost to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit?
When we get a phone call from a family that has lost a loved one in a wrongful death scenario here in Texas, one of the first questions they’ll ask is, “How much is it going to cost to hire you to represent our family?” In Texas, it doesn’t cost anything upfront to hire an attorney to file a wrongful death claim. Texas attorneys, including personal injury attorneys, represent clients on a contingency fee. This means that we will front all the costs of the case, including hiring experts or investigators and paying court costs. Whatever it may be, we will pay that upfront to make sure that your case is thoroughly and properly investigated.
When the case is resolved, either through a settlement or through a verdict, we collect a percentage of the amount that we recovered on your behalf, in addition to reimbursement for the expenses that we have incurred in investigating and preparing your case. If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to answer these questions and any other questions that you may have.
Do you recommend taking the insurance companies initial offer for a wrongful death claim?
Late last year, we received a phone call from a gentleman down in Corpus who wanted to know whether or not he should accept the first settlement offer made by an insurance company in a wrongful death case involving his wife. The answer to that question is always going to be no. You should never accept the first offer made by an insurance company.
You have to remember that these insurance companies have a negotiation strategy, and the purpose of that strategy is to try to pay as little as possible in settlement of any claim. To answer that specific question, no, you should never accept the first offer made by an insurance company in a wrongful death case or in any case.
If you contact us for a free consultation, we’ll be happy to discuss this and any other questions that you may have.
Call Our Texas Wrongful Death Attorneys
When you’re devastated by the death of a loved one that could have been prevented, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney to discuss the specific circumstances involved and your options for a wrongful death claim. Such cases are intricate and require research, strategy, negotiation, and familiarity with the ever-changing aspects of the law.
Our Texas wrongful death attorneys have helped people just like you get the full, fair compensation they deserve for their families. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and bringing you justice. Let us bring you peace of mind during this difficult time and level the playing field against the insurance company. Call today for your free consultation.
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