Losing a loved one is never easy, but the pain can be exacerbated when the death is caused by another person’s negligence. Wrongful death claims arise frequently in cases involving fatal car accidents. In 2020, 86 fatal car crashes occurred in Austin.
Certain surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for their losses.
Our Austin wrongful death lawyers at The Zimmerman Law Firm, P.C. are dedicated to fighting for our clients’ rights to recover the damages they deserve.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Texas law allows certain surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim if someone caused the victim’s death through:
- A wrongful act,
- Unskillfulness, or
Surviving family members may pursue a claim of wrongful death to recover damages incurred through the loss of their loved one. Wrongful death claims are a way to hold the negligent party accountable for his or her actions, even if they do not rise to the level of criminal misconduct.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased may file a wrongful death action in Texas. If a wrongful death claim is not filed within three months of the death, the personal representative or executor of the deceased person’s estate may file the claim. Texas law prohibits surviving siblings from filing a wrongful death claim.
Common Accidents Giving Rise to Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims arise in situations where one party acted wrongfully, negligently, or carelessly. Some situations where this is common include:
- Truck accidents,
- Motorcycle accidents,
- Car accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Pedestrian accidents, and
- Workplace accidents.
Other types of incidents can support a wrongful death claim as well. If you believe you may have a claim, it’s important to consult a lawyer about your options.
Proving Wrongful Death
A wrongful death claim depends on a negligence analysis. This analysis involves proving four elements.
First, you must prove that the party at fault owed a legal duty to the victim. As a general matter, everyone has a duty to act in the manner a reasonable person would. For example, drivers have a duty to not be intoxicated while on the roadway.
Next, you must show that the negligent party breached their duty. A party breaches their duty by failing to act as a reasonable person would. Following our example, a driver that is intoxicated has breached his or her duty.
In Austin, Texas alone, 25,629 traffic accidents occurred in 2020 that involved the use of alcohol.
Third, you must prove that the other party’s breach caused the death of your loved one. Causation can be a complicated element to prove when external factors, like bad weather, also contributed to an accident.
Finally, you must show that you suffered damages because of the death of your loved one. This can include loss of financial support, funeral costs, and loss of companionship.
In theory, it may seem easy to prove a driver was negligent and caused the death of your loved one. In practice, however, proving negligence can be difficult. Make sure you have an experienced wrongful death attorney to represent you and help you prove your claim.
Possible Damages for a Wrongful Death Claim
Surviving family members filing a wrongful death claim can recover economic and non-economic damages.
Our Austin wrongful death attorneys have recovered a broad range of damages, including:
- Current and future medical bills,
- Lost of financial support,
- Loss of services,
- Loss of future earning capacity,
- Loss of companionship,
- Loss of advice and counsel, and
- Mental and emotional anguish.
The type of damages you can recover differ from case to case. A wrongful death attorney in Austin will determine which form of financial compensation you are entitled to recover as a result of the loss of your family member.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Texas law requires wrongful death claims to be filed within two years of the deceased person’s death. It is important to note that the two-year period begins on the date of death, not the date of the accident. If a car accident occurred in May and the victim passed away in June, the two-year time period begins in June.
There are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations that can allow you to bring a claim after two years have passed. An Austin wrongful death attorney can explain these exceptions in detail.
How Can an Austin Wrongful Death Attorney Help Me?
When a loved one dies through no fault of their own, you may be required to make difficult decisions in the midst of the grieving process. You may have mountains of medical debt and funeral expenses to pay for on top of your regular bills and expenses. Having an experienced wrongful death attorney in Austin can help alleviate some of your concerns.
Nothing can bring your loved one back. But bringing a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for your loved one’s death can provide you with financial compensation to make the path to recovery smoother. The Zimmerman Law Firm has helped countless families recover financial compensation they are owed. Contact our team online or call our firm at (254) 752-9688 today for a free consultation.
Wrongful Death FAQ
Wrongful death claims can be incredibly confusing for someone not trained in the practice of law. We have provided some commonly asked questions for your convenience.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Attorney?
The Zimmerman Law Firm does not want legal fees to prevent you from seeking the compensation you deserve. That’s why we operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that you are required to pay us for our services only after you have received a settlement or a judgement in your favor.
Do I Have a Valid Wrongful Death Claim?
If your loved one died because of someone else’s negligence, you are likely entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. Whether you are able to recover damages for the wrongful death is a different matter. Every case is different, but we will gather as much information as possible about your case so we can give you an honest opinion about whether or not pursuing the claim is worth your time and money.
Can I Settle My Lawsuit Without Going to Court?
The short answer is yes. The vast majority of civil lawsuits end in settlement, with only a tiny fraction ending up in court. We will do our best to secure a settlement offer that compensates you for all of the harm you suffered, without ever stepping foot in a courtroom. However, if necessary, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial.