Table of Contents
- How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work?
- What Do Wrongful Death Lawyers Do?
- Choosing the Right Wrongful Death Attorney
- Hire a Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer
- Wrongful Death FAQ
How to Find a Wrongful Death Attorney
The unexpected death of a loved one can be one of the most tragic experiences a family can go through. When such a situation is caused by another’s wrongdoing, it can create added burdens to an already trying situation. In such cases, it may be necessary to consult with a wrongful death attorney to determine what legal options your family has.
Wrongful death lawsuits are unique forms of personal injury cases that can involve more complex issues than a standard case.
Finding the right wrongful death attorney to handle your case is crucial to ensuring that your family is compensated to the full extent.
This article will provide you with information on what wrongful death lawyers do and how to select one to handle your claim.
At Pierce Skrabanek, we have worked with many people who have lost their family members due to another’s negligence. We understand that it is a difficult time and that everyone processes it in their own ways.
Our aim is to take as much of the burden off of you so you can devote your attention to your family. If you and your family need assistance with a wrongful death claim, contact us today at (832) 690-7000 for legal representation. Our attorneys have the experience needed to ensure your family obtains justice.
How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work?
“Wrongful death” refers to any death caused by another’s “wrongful act, omission, or negligence.” This is a special type of personal injury claim because the victim has passed away and is no longer able to seek compensation for themselves.
On account of this situation, Texas injury laws allow a representative of the victim, usually a close family member, to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The liable party then pays damages directly to the victim’s estate, which is typically distributed among other family members.
In the state of Texas, the following family members of the decedent are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Surviving spouse
- Adopted children or adoptive parents, if the adoption was legal and fully completed
Wrongful death claims can be filed as separate actions for each family member, or they can be grouped together as a single claim. To view Texas’ wrongful death statute, you can read it in Chapter 71 of Texas’ Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
What Do Wrongful Death Lawyers Do?
Due to the fact that the victim in a wrongful death is not a participant in the lawsuit, the role of the attorney is highly important in helping the surviving family members obtain compensation.
Since the victim cannot testify on their own behalf, it is up to the attorney to build a case in a way that accurately reconstructs what happened. Wrongful death attorneys perform tasks that include:
- Filing in a timely manner: In most cases, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years after the victim’s death. An attorney can help ensure the family files their claim promptly, so they will not miss any deadlines.
- Gathering evidence for trial: A skilled wrongful death attorney will be able to obtain medical records, police reports, witness statements, and other items of evidence that will help support the claim.
- Building a legal strategy: A strong legal strategy has two sides to it — First, examining the facts of the incident, and second, applying the law in a skillful way. Wrongful death attorneys must be adept at both to win a case.
- Arguing for damages: Damages in a wrongful death case cover losses like medical costs, mental anguish, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, and other losses. The amount of damages awarded often directly depends on the attorney’s skill in presenting their case in court.
- Organizing settlement distributions: The way that a wrongful death settlement award is distributed among the family members can sometimes be a point of contention. Hiring a lawyer can help prevent such disputes by creating clear, written expectations of what each person is receiving.
It will be difficult for the family members to approach a wrongful death lawsuit without the assistance of an attorney, who will perform all these tasks on their behalf.
Besides these duties, wrongful death attorneys often must provide emotional support for the family members in a way that is distinct from other personal injury lawsuits. They must have the ability to be sensitive to the family’s needs and feelings as they communicate with them during their time of grief.
Choosing the Right Attorney for Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit can depend on the skill of the lawyer handling the case; thus, it’s extremely important to select a wrongful death lawyer who knows the ins and outs of such cases.
Factors to look for when hiring a wrongful death attorney include:
- Experience: Wrongful death cases involve many complex, nuanced issues that are best handled by an attorney who has worked with such laws before.
- Communication and availability: Your attorney should communicate with you frequently and regularly during the process, and should remain available whenever you need to reach out to them with a question.
- Empathy: Sensitivity is paramount in a wrongful death case. A competent lawyer will understand the emotional state that the family members will be in, and will listen closely to their needs and requests.
- Knowledge of the law: You should choose an attorney who is especially knowledgeable of the local rules and regulations in your area. Wrongful death laws vary widely from place to place. If your claim is being filed in Houston, for instance, a Houston wrongful death attorney will be familiar with the laws that apply to your case.
- Skill: Not all litigators are the same. Examine each lawyer’s track record and the firm’s record of success before you hire them.
All wrongful death cases involve an accident or incident that caused the death. For instance, wrongful death claims can involve car accidents, truck accidents, hurricane catastrophes like Hurricane Laura, workplace accidents, issues with pharmaceutical and medical devices, and maritime workplace incidents, especially those involving the Death on the High Seas Act.
It is helpful to select a lawyer whose practice focuses on the type of accident in your lawsuit.
At Pierce Skrabanek, our attorneys have decades of experience handling personal injury and wrongful death cases, and understand what your family needs. Contact us at (832) 690-7000 to speak with an attorney regarding your next steps.
Hire a Qualified Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer for Your Case
At Pierce Skrabanek, our attorneys are dedicated to helping families who have been affected by the untimely death of a loved one. Our knowledge and experience in handling wrongful death cases have led to us obtaining numerous multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements for our clients.
The wrongful death lawyers at our firm dedicate ourselves tirelessly to our clients, so they can focus on being with their families. We always pursue nothing less than the highest compensation possible. Get in touch with us today at (832) 690-7000 for a free, no-obligation consultation. This is the first step toward obtaining justice for you and your loved ones.
Wrongful Death FAQs
In a wrongful death lawsuit, your lawyer will need to prove the following points:
- The other party owed a duty of care toward your loved one: For instance, doctors have a duty to follow medical standards when providing medical care.
- The other party breached their duty of care: If a doctor disregards proper medical protocol, it could be a breach of their duty of care.
- The other party’s misconduct caused your loved one’s death: If the doctor’s actions directly caused the death, you may have a case for wrongful death based on negligence.
A wrongful death attorney must be able to support these points with evidence, which can include witness testimony, documents, medical records, and other items.
There is no standard or set amount for damages in a wrongful death suit. Calculation of damages depends on many factors, including overall medical expenses, the degree of liability of the other party, and whether the victim is leaving behind dependent survivors.The amount of damages often depends on the attorney’s ability to successfully argue the victim’s case. Thus, it’s important to select a wrongful death lawyer who has experience in obtaining favorable results for clients.
The way wrongful death settlements are paid out is similar to the way a person’s will is distributed after their death. That is, different family members may receive portions of the settlement. The exact distribution depends on various factors, including the willingness of the family members to cooperate with one another, and whether there are minor children involved who may need additional care.Clashes between family members often occur in this area. Hiring an attorney who knows how to prepare a wrongful death settlement can help prevent disputes during such a sensitive time.
You should contact an attorney as soon as you discover any connection between negligence and your loved one’s death. There are filing deadlines associated with wrongful death lawsuits, so you want to make sure you don’t miss the filing window.Besides any deadlines, you may have various questions related to the death of your loved one. Speaking with an attorney can help provide you with some peace of mind and comfort knowing that a professional is assessing your case.