If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, you might be confused on where to start. The Texas Wrongful Death Guide was created by Austin injury attorney Daniel R. Smith to help residents hold the responsible parties accountable for their loss.
If you have lost someone due to wrongful death, you’re probably feeling devastated and angry. It is a horrific thing to have to go through and can turn your life upside down. Along with terrible grief, you may be bogged down by unexpected medical bills and funeral costs. It is particularly frustrating to have to deal with this if you lost someone due to another’s negligence. We are here to guide you through your wrongful death claim every step of the way. Our Texas wrongful death attorney would be glad to set up a free consultation to go over your case with you. Please read and learn a bit about your case, then give us a call.
How to Win the Most Compensation
There are two forms of wrongful death compensatory damages. You firstly have your baseline wrongful death damages which you can collect for. This is a matter of math. We look at how much money your loved one provide the family, their earning capacity, and how much you will be set back by the loss of their financial contribution. Wrongful death also includes the cost of medical care before death and the funeral costs. The second type of damages you can collect for include pain and suffering that your loved one endured as well as the loss of consortium you have experienced.
Not Talking to the Insurance Company
The people who will try to blame your loved one for the accident include the liable party and the insurance company that represents them. The insurance company will reach out to you shortly after the accident and ask you to give them a recorded statement. It is in your best interest not to give them one. You should let your attorney take over all communications. If you were to talk to them, they would be asking you all of these weighted questions that would give you no option but to answer unfavorably on behalf of your loved one. They will take advantage of the fact that you are probably still grieving and distraught and they will do whatever they can to reduce what they owe you or be able to throw away their case.
What to Do After the Accident
Seeking medical attention is going to be the most important thing that you do. The injuries that you suffer from an accident like this can be severe. They include traumatic brain injury, broken bones, spinal cord damage and more. Immediately after the collision, if you are conscious, you may have a ton of adrenaline that will mask the pain you will most certainly feel when it wears off. Don’t use that as a reason not to see the doctor.
At the scene of the accident that killed your loved one, there are a few steps you might want to take to get evidence. You can talk to witnesses and get their contact information, get insurance information from the suspected liable party involved in your accident, and take photos of everything on the scene that seems relevant. You may also consider hiring an attorney right away who can step on the scene for you and collect the evidence.
How Long You Have to File a Claim
If you want to ensure that your case is going to have the best possible chance of success, you need to make sure that you get everything done on time. Texas law states that you need to have filed your claim or settled it in civil court within two years from the date of your wrongful death accident. That means if you wait two years and a day to try to file a claim, you will be barred from receiving compensation altogether. You’ll want to ask quick after you lose a loved one so that you don’t risk losing precious evidence and witness statements. The sooner you get an attorney, the better off you will be.
Frequently Asked Questions | Texas Wrongful Death Guide
What Do I Do After a Loved One Passes?
Recently, I was contacted by someone who had lost a loved one and had questions about their wrongful death case and what they should do. I told them the first thing they should do is hire an attorney immediately. Evidence goes missing if you don’t have someone collect it right away. A large part of the role of an attorney is to investigate and act as a detective in what happened. That gives you closure in knowing what happened and, if there’s another party responsible for what happened, we are able to collect that evidence.
You need to hire the right attorney who focuses a significant portion of their practice on personal injury claims, specifically wrongful death. Wrongful death claims are very different than other claims. You also want your attorney to be a trial attorney, and that means that they work every case as if it’s going to trial. Insurance companies know who the trial attorneys are and treat them more favorably.
How Do I Find the Right Attorney?
To find the right attorney, the first thing you have to look for is being able to establish a level of comfort and trust with that attorney, and that begins in the first meeting, whether it’s over the phone or in-person.
Next, you need to hire someone who specializes in personal injury law and has experience in wrongful death cases specifically. Wrongful death cases are different than other cases and require specific experience. Lastly, you need to find a trial attorney. Trial attorneys work cases differently. They work cases from the beginning as if they are going to trial. Beyond that, insurance companies know who the trial attorneys are, and that means that you’re more likely to get a fair settlement offer without having to go to trial. If in the rare case you do have to go to trial, that attorney will be ready to represent you and get you the best result possible.
Will My Wrongful Death Case Go to Trial?
All of our clients will always be the boss as to whether or not we accept any settlement offer. My role is to give advice on whether I think that offer is fair or not fair. However, the client always gets to make the decision on whether or not to take an offer.
Beyond that, if we do go to trial, you’ll be thoroughly prepared for everything. It’s an opportunity for you to tell your story about what happened to a jury of your peers and a judge.
How Much is My Case Worth?
Unfortunately, it is too difficult to tell how much a case is worth at the beginning stages. There are a lot of variants with jury awards on wrongful death claims.
Beyond that, there are different types of damages that you can ask for compensation for. For example, the lost earnings capacity that that loved one would have helped provide to their family. The hardest one is the loss of companionship. When you lose a loved one, you’re entitled to money that is supposed to compensate you for that loss of companionship. Another type of damage you can receive is pain and suffering that your loved one suffered before they passed away in what was unfortunately a very preventable death.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Recently, I was contacted by a client who had lost a loved one, and she asked me about how long her wrongful death case would take in Texas. Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer in the beginning. How the process works is, first, we submit a demand to the responsible third-parties asking for fair and just compensation. If they respond and it’s a number that we can work with, we’ll negotiate with them. If it isn’t, then we file a lawsuit.
After we file a lawsuit, we have to serve the defendants. After the defendants are served, they have 30 days to respond. Once they respond to the lawsuit, they will have attorneys representing them, and we immediately contact those attorneys to get a trial date, and then there’s an end in sight.
Call Our Austin Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you want a strong, dedicated, and experienced Austin wrongful death attorney, please do not hesitate to call our office today to set up a free consultation. We will put your case a priority and make sure we do not give up until we have the best possible result for you. Call us today to get the ball rolling on your wrongful death claim.