Austin Wrongful Death Attorneys.
Compassionate Counseling And Assertive Advocacy here for you in this tragic time
Losing a loved one and dealing with his or her untimely death is difficult under any circumstances. However, when a loved one dies in an accident that was caused by another person’s carelessness or recklessness, it can make the already long grieving process all the more difficult.
If your loved one passed away in an accident that was caused by someone else, then you may be able to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party to hold him or her accountable. The Austin wrongful death lawyers at Terry & Kelly, PLLC, can assist you with filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of your deceased loved one, and if necessary, litigating the case through the court system. Please call us today to learn more about how we may be able to assist you with filing your wrongful death claim or lawsuit.
Defining Wrongful Death under Texas Law
A surviving family member can file a wrongful death claim if a loved one passes away as a result of another person or entity’s carelessness, wrongful act, default, neglect, or unskillfulness. In many instances, wrongful death actions arise from drunk driving accidents, distracted driving collisions, or some other type of omission or error.
What is Wrongful Death in Texas?
Wrongful death is defined by Texas law if any of the following cause the death:
- The wrongful act of another party
- The carelessness of another party
- Neglect of another party
- The default of another party
- Unskillfulness of another party
If you believe a loved one died and that someone else’s conduct was to blame, you should immediately have an Austin wrongful death lawyer evaluate your rights. The law firm of Terry & Kelly, PLLC regularly handles wrongful death stemming from a variety of accidents and incidents. These can include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Boating accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Defective product accidents
- Nursing home neglect or abuse
There are many other ways wrongful death can occur, and our firm can evaluate whether a particular fatal accident constitutes wrongful death in Texas.
Wrongful Death Damages
There are several types of damages that a wrongful death claimant may be eligible to recover on behalf of a deceased loved one. The primary purpose of these wrongful death damages is to compensate surviving loved ones for the losses they experienced from the decedent’s premature death. For example, the claimant may be able to recover financial compensation for mental distress, loss of inheritance from the decedent’s life being cut short in the accident, loss of earning capacity, loss of the decedent’s support and companionship, loss of household services, and loss of the decedent’s guidance and support.
In cases where the circumstances of the fatal accident were particularly severe or egregious (such as in a drunk driving accident), the claimant may be able to make a claim for punitive damages. The purpose of these damages is to punish the at-fault party and to dissuade others from committing similar acts of negligence in the future.
Damages for the decedent’s estate (called survival damages) are also permitted under Texas law. Potential survival damages include compensation for the decedent’s mental distress and pain and suffering that the decedent experienced up until the time he or she passed away. Potential survival damages can also include medical expenses leading up to the decedent’s death, as well as burial expenses.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
There are several categories of individuals who are eligible to file a wrongful death claim in the State of Texas. Eligible wrongful death claimants include the decedent’s surviving spouse, the decedent’s surviving children, and the decedent’s surviving parents. Sometimes, a decedent’s adopted child may be in a position to bring a claim for wrongful death, in the event the adoption was complete at the time of filing the wrongful death claim. However, in Texas, a decedent’s surviving siblings are not eligible to file a wrongful death claim in the State. This is true regardless of whether the siblings are adopted or natural siblings of the decedent.
Are You Eligible to File a Claim?
Just because you cared for someone who died in an accident does not mean that you have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Texas limits this right to close family members, such as:
- Surviving spouse
- Children, including adult or adopted children
- Parents, including adoptive parents
If any of these parties do not start the claim process within three months of the death, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a claim (unless they are specifically asked not to do so by close family members). This person will be designated in a last will and testament or by the probate court if there is no will.
If you believe you might be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, you should not wait to discuss a possible case with a wrongful death lawyer.
What is the Wrongful Death Claim Process?
The wrongful death claim process is similar to the personal injury process, and there can be many steps to take and obstacles that might arise. While each claim is unique, the following are some common steps the right lawyer will take as part of the process:
- Evaluating whether you have a valid claim and identifying liable parties
- Calculating the damages you can seek from the wrongful death
- Filing an insurance claim on your behalf
- Negotiating a favorable and fair insurance settlement
- Filing and pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit if no insurance settlement can be reached
It is important to have legal representation during this process so that your family can focus on your emotional recovery from your tragic loss.
We recognize that losing a loved one due to another person’s negligence is one of the most traumatic things that you can experience in life.
We understand that this loss not only puts you under emotional distress but also leaves you with important questions about how the loss of your loved one’s income will alter your everyday life and affect your financial stability.
Jim Terry and Trent Kelly our Austin wrongful death attorneys represent clients throughout Texas in situations where a loved one has been taken from their families by someone’s careless, or even reckless, actions. We guide you through the entire legal process surrounding a wrongful death claim and serve as trusted counsel at every stage of your case.
Read more on How A Death is Considered Wrongful, to find out if you can take action!
In some situations, the person who caused wrongful death will be charged with manslaughter, homicide, or another criminal offense due to their wrongful conduct. Do not mistakenly believe that this case is a substitute for a wrongful death claim. Criminal cases are intended to punish the wrongdoer, and not necessarily to help the family recover. Instead, a separate action for wrongful death should be filed in civil court to seek damages for the family from the liable party. You can file a wrongful death claim even if there is no conviction in a criminal case or no criminal charges are issued at all.
Protecting Your Interests Is Our Main Priority
While Jim and Trent aim to resolve these matters as quickly as possible so that you can move forward and begin the emotional grieving and healing process, they will take your case as far as needed to help you obtain the compensation you deserve and hold the negligent party accountable for the immense loss they caused.
Should trial become necessary, you can rest assured that your case is in good hands; Jim and Trent’s proven courtroom strategies have led to many notable successes, and have given them a reputation with opposing lawyers and insurance carriers as powerful advocates whose clients must be taken seriously. When insurance carriers for the negligent party try to diminish the impact of the loss, or even shift blame to your loved one, we stand up for you and your loved one and fight to protect your interests.
In the majority of wrongful death cases, claimants have two years from the date of the decedent’s death (absent very limited circumstances) to bring a wrongful death claim. Consequently, it is important that you have an experienced attorney representing you as early on in the process as possible. The legal team at Terry & Kelly, PLLC, can assist you with pursuing a wrongful death claim on your loved one’s behalf and holding the responsible persons or entities who caused the accident accountable.
If you have lost a loved one in a fatal accident or any other injury-causing scenario caused by someone’s negligence, we can provide you with the representation you need and the answers you deserve.
We will treat your individual case with compassion and confidentiality at all stages. Call 512-910-2000 or fill out our online form to arrange a free consultation.