Wrongful Death Legal Process
If you lost a loved one in an accident, and that accident was caused by someone’s negligence, you may have the right to seek compensation in court. A wrongful death claim is possible when your loved one died due to another person or business’s carelessness, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. Had your family member lived, they would have been able to bring a personal injury claim. However, since this negligence cost your loved one their life, it may now be left to you to hold the other party responsible in court.
Determining if Negligence Was Involved
Was your loved one’s death someone else’s fault? Fault might be obvious, such as if your family member was killed after being struck by a drunk driver. You may be confident in saying that the other driver is liable. However, after more complex accidents, it can be difficult to determine who was to blame. In this situation, it is important to reach out to an experienced wrongful death attorney who can investigate the accident and analyze liability. Once you have more information, you may be in a stronger position to bring a wrongful death claim against the right individual or business.
Determining Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim
Before a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed, it is essential to determine if you have a right to bring this type of claim in court or if your lawsuit will be immediately dismissed. Texas law limits who is entitled to file a wrongful death claim. Being close to someone and loving them deeply does not entitle you to compensation upon their death. You must have a close familial relationship with the deceased individual, such as by being their spouse, parent, or child. Any other type of relationship, including a sibling, grandparent, cousin, or fiancé, does not include the right to file a wrongful death claim.
If you are not eligible to bring a wrongful death claim and no one else can or decides to pursue this action, then the right falls to the decedent’s estate. If a parent, spouse, or child has not filed a wrongful death claim within three months of the individual’s death, then the administrator of their estate can do so.
Calculating Your Desired Compensation
If you are ready to file a wrongful death claim, then you will need to understand the injuries you can seek compensation for and calculate or estimate these injuries’ value. You have the right to seek both economic and non-economic damages. If the defendant’s actions were shocking or egregious, you may have the option to seek punitive damages as well.
During a wrongful death suit, you can ask for:
- Medical costs
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The loss of your loved one’s financial contribution to the family
- The loss of care, support, maintenance, advice, and counsel from your loved one
- The loss of love, companionship, and comfort from you loved one
- The loss of inheritance you might have received had your loved one lived longer
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
Filing the Lawsuit in Time: Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
It takes time to accept and mourn your loss, investigate what happened to your loved one, and then decide whether to move forward with a wrongful death case. Navigating the world without your spouse, parent, or child in your life is difficult and traumatic, and it may take you months to feel like the ground is back under your feet. That is why it is smart to not jump into this type of legal proceeding. However, the Texas statute of limitations only gives you two years after your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death suit. You cannot take too long to hire an attorney and come to a decision. Otherwise, the opportunity to seek compensation may pass you by.
Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Suit
During a wrongful death lawsuit, you will be required to provide evidence that the defendant you named in the lawsuit was negligence toward your family member and that this negligence led to your loved one’s death. Additionally, you will have to prove your injuries and their monetary value. While this may be relatively straightforward in some cases, such as a death caused by a drunk driver, it may not be so obvious others. Proving negligence in court can take a great deal of evidence, including photos and videos of the accident, business records, witness testimony, expert witnesses, and more.
Additionally, if you are going up against a business that can afford a team of lawyers, it is essential that you hire your own legal counsel. No matter how clear you believe your is, the other side will strive to find holes and doubt within your evidence.
Considering Settlement Offers
Prior to going to trial in a wrongful death case, you might receive a settlement offer from the defendant. If the defendant was insured at the time of the accident, you may receive a settlement offer from the insurer based on its client’s policy. It is up to you whether you accept a settlement offer, reject it with the intention of going to trial, or negotiate for a higher amount. An attorney can help review your situation and the amount of compensation you are likely to obtain from a jury. This objective information can help you determine whether it is best to settle or push forward.
Our Houston Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., we understand losing someone you love unexpectedly is devastating. There is no way to truly describe the overwhelming thoughts and feelings during this time. On top of it all, a wrongful death claim may help you feel as if you can find justice for your loved one or it may simply be another problem to handle. We will focus on providing you skilled legal representation with compassion and support.
We have extensive experience in dealing with insurance claims or proving negligence at trial. We are ready to investigate what happened to you loved one and hold the at-fault party responsible. We have the resources and knowledge necessary to fight for the maximum compensation possible for your and your family’s loss.
For more information about the wrongful death legal process, contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at 281-283-8500 and schedule a free consultation.