Austin Wrongful Death Lawyer
The period after which you lose a loved one to an accident can be an extremely trying and emotional time. When a loved one’s life is taken too soon by an act of negligence committed by another party, coping with your loss can be much more painful and confusing.
Wrongful death is when an individual passes away due to some misconduct or negligence brought upon them by another person(s), business, or entity. If you are dealing with the wrongful death of a family member, know that there are legal options available in which certain family members can pursue justice and recovery.
Central Texas wrongful death attorney, John F. Melton, would like to offer his condolences and legal support to those who have recently lost someone dear to them. To learn more about your legal options contact The Melton Law Firm right now at (512) 330-0017.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death is the death of an individual caused by an intentional or negligent act of a person or entity. A wrongful death is the basis of a wrongful death claim, which can be brought against the party or parties who caused the loss of life. In Texas, certain surviving descendants and beneficiaries of individuals who have passed away have legal rights under state wrongful death laws.
Standard criteria for a wrongful death claim includes several elements, including:
- The death of the victim is caused wholly or partly by the conduct of another party.
- An individual or other entity acted in negligence and caused an accident for which they are strictly liable.
- The death of the victim has brought about monetary damages.
A plaintiff that pursues legal action is acting on behalf of their loved one and will take on the “procedural shoes” of the victim in their legal pursuit. This means that any arguments that the victim would have made if able to represent themselves should be used by the plaintiff as their own.
Surviving family members should know that the victim need not pass at the scene of the incident. If the incident ends up ultimately causing the loss of life after some time, then this may also constitute wrongful death.
Common Incidents Related to Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death can come about in any number of ways including:
Every day, Americans put their trust in medical professionals to help heal and treat them. Yet, even these highly-trained professionals can make mistakes which can lead to the tragic death of an individual. Misdiagnosis is one of the most common causes of wrongful death in medical malpractice cases.
Car or Truck Accident
More than 90 people die in auto collisions in the United States per day. These car accidents are the result of many factors which can include reckless driving, drunk driving, speeding, and other forms of negligent behavior.
Wrongful death is most common in occupations involving manual work but can occur in any work setting. Wrongful deaths at work can happen as a result of a lack of proper training, lack of safety gear, negligent supervisors or coworkers, or dangerous work conditions.
Any party involved in the chain of manufacturing may be held liable for the product which caused a wrongful death. If an individual’s death was caused by a defective product, then legal action may be pursued.
Violent actions can very easily lead to wrongful deaths. Types of malicious and violent acts that can lead to wrongful death include assault, domestic violence, or use of a deadly weapon.
While acts of wrongful death commonly occur in these types of situations, they are not limited to only these types of incidents.
If you feel that the death of your loved one was caused by an act of negligence by another party, you should pursue legal action to seek justice and recovery. Contact The Melton Law Firm right now at (512) 330-0017 to learn more about what rights you have and how to secure the justice you deserve.
Can I Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 71.004 identifies who may file a wrongful death claim in the state of Texas.
Wrongful death claims may be pursued by:
- The spouse of the decedent.
- A child of the decedent if he or she is over the age of 18.
- An adopted child of the decedent if the adoption was legal and fully completed.
- Parents and adoptive parents may file a wrongful death claim.
- If a wrongful death claim is not filed within three months by any of the parties mentioned above, then an executor may file a claim on behalf of the estate.
- Under Texas law, surviving siblings CANNOT file a wrongful death claim.
These parties may file together or separately. Damages that are awarded may be divided by eligible beneficiaries.
Financial recovery can also be pursued through a survival claim. A survival claim is when the deceased person’s estate representative or heir files a personal injury claim that the victim of death would have filed had they survived the incident.
Please Note: The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim in Texas is two years from the date of death of the victim. In wrongful death and survival actions, the “discovery rule” or suspension of the statute of limitations does not apply.
Given the time limit for beneficiaries and the statute of limitations, individuals who wish to pursue compensation should seek legal help and take action in a timely manner. Do not hesitate to call the trusted wrongful death attorney of The Melton Law Firm today at (512) 330-0017 to learn more about your legal options.
What Compensation Is Available If I File a Wrongful Death Claim?
There are generally three types of damages that can be pursued in a wrongful death claim.
If the decedent would have been financially supporting or contributing to survivors had they not passed away, economic damages may be pursued. Additionally, if the accident which caused the death of said person resulted in expenses, compensation for these damages may be pursued as well. Examples of economic damages which may be obtained include:
- Medical expenses due to injuries in the accident.
- Loss of decedent’s earnings.
- Loss of benefits from the decedent, such as medical coverage.
- An unanticipated death results in the loss of inheritance.
- Funeral expenses.
- Loss of goods or services.
Examples of non-economic damages which may be pursued include:
- Mental anguish of a loved one.
- Pain and suffering of a loved one.
- Loss of care, protection, guidance, and support.
- Loss of love, companionship, or social interaction.
- Loss of consortium from a spouse.
Punitive damages may also be awarded if the defendant exhibited gross negligence or intentional misconduct which caused the individual’s death. These damages are intended to hold the defendant accountable for their wrongdoing. Willful acts of gross negligence can occur in wrongful death situations and punitive damages may be pursued against parties which commit such crimes.
In some instances, the jury may award damages according to the injuries that were suffered prior to the loss of life. It should also be noted that the jury may decide that the damages are to be divided among all entitled beneficiaries.
How Can the Wrongful Death Attorney of The Melton Law Firm Assist Me?
Texas wrongful death law can be very complex, and although you are not obligated to seek professional help, the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can alleviate much of the stress associated with filing a claim.
As it is, you may already be suffering from various emotions during this vulnerable time. You deserve legal representation that will take on all legal responsibilities while you take the time to grieve.
When you seek assistance from our trustworthy attorney, you will receive the due diligence and dedication that you deserve. Our Austin wrongful death attorney can provide support with:
- Diligent and comprehensive investigations to establish liability of the defendant.
- Negotiating with and dealing with insurance companies and their adjusters to achieve the best settlement.
- Developing a strong case with the support of medical professionals, accident specialists, investigators, and other legal professionals.
- Building an aggressive case to achieve a maximum settlement.
- Offering experienced and fine-tuned tactics in litigation if your case proceeds to court.
In order to successfully file a wrongful death claim and secure a maximum settlement, the plaintiff must first be able to prove that they are a statutory beneficiary such as a spouse, child, or parent of the deceased person. Secondly, you must demonstrate how the wrongful death of a loved one has impacted your life in a negative manner.
After the death of a loved one, you may need assistance in coping with the emotional or financial effects that can come as a result. You can benefit immensely from the support of the skillful wrongful death attorney at The Melton Law Firm.
For reputable and client-focused legal representation in the wrongful death claim of a loved one, contact the Austin attorneys of The Melton Law Firm right now at (512) 330-0017.