Losing a loved one is always difficult. When their death results suddenly from the wrongdoing or negligence of another party, it may be even harder to cope. Although lawsuits can never compensate for the emotional loss of a loved one, bringing a wrongful death action against the responsible party is often a possible way for the family to recover for their losses. A knowledgeable and experienced Texas wrongful death attorney can be a valuable part of that process.
What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death action occurs when a victim dies as a result of someone else’s negligent actions or wrongful conduct. The family or estate of the victim may bring a wrongful death claim in order to recover for their damages.
Texas has a civil wrongful death statute in place, which allows for recovery if the loved one’s death resulted from a person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.” A wrongful death claim can only be filed by certain family members, including the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the party who died. A timely claim under the statute must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death, generally.
There are many different types of accidents that can lead to wrongful death. Car accidents, motorcycle collisions, aviation accidents, and commercial truck accidents are some examples. Workplace injuries, whether explosions, fires, or falls can also lead to wrongful death. Some wrongful death actions are based on negligent nursing home care, defective or dangerous products, or medical malpractice.
What Types of Recovery are Available and What is the Process?
Texas allows the recovery of several types of damages to compensate the family for the losses they experienced in losing their loved one. These include damages for the lost earning capacity of the victim, loss of companionship, support, and guidance, as well as damages for mental anguish. In some particularly egregious cases, the court may also allow for recovery of punitive or exemplary damages.
Additionally, Texas law allows the recovery of survival damages, which compensate the family for the mental anguish and pain and suffering that their loved one experienced before dying — for example, during a hospital stay after the accident that ultimately led to their death. Also included in this claim are burial and funeral costs. A lawsuit to recover these damages is usually called a survival action.
To recover from a wrongful death claim, the surviving relatives need to show that their loved one’s untimely death was a direct result of the wrongdoer’s negligence or misconduct. They will need to show that they are entitled to recover the damages caused by the wrongdoer.
What Does a Wrongful Death Attorney Do?
A wrongful death lawyer can help the family with many aspects of the process. First, the attorney will investigate the facts of the accident and the reasons for the loved one’s death. They will help piece together what happened, by investigating the scene of the accident, interviewing witnesses, examining your loved one’s medical records, and reconstructing the accident scene to better understand how it occurred.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer will also offer sound legal advice, informing the family of their rights and options and counseling them on possible next steps. Moreover, a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney can help the family prove liability and damages. They can help pinpoint the direct and actual cause of the decedent’s death and connect that cause to the wrongdoer’s conduct. They will help the family document their losses, assisting with the compilation of medical bills, funeral expenses, proof of lost wages, and other damages.
The lawyer will also negotiate on the family’s behalf against the other party and insurance companies, in order to obtain the most favorable settlement possible. They will prepare the family’s case, file it in the appropriate court, and draft documentation, including any pleadings and motions that may be required. An experienced and trusted wrongful death attorney will advocate and argue on the family’s behalf during the trial, if one is needed. In a difficult time of need, an experienced wrongful death attorney can help the family focus on healing, while taking care of the legal aspects of recovering for the family’s losses.
How Can the Francis Firm help?
Our Texas wrongful death lawyers are compassionate advocates for our clients. If you lost a family member in a preventable accident or as a result of someone else’s negligent conduct, we are here to take care of all your legal needs so that you can focus on yourself and your loved ones. For more than 25 years, our skilled Texas wrongful death lawyers have fought aggressively to protect the rights of grieving families. To set up a free, fully confidential consultation, call our Southlake law office today at (817) 617-8639 or contact us online.