You never expect to suddenly lose a loved one. You know, logically, that your relatives will pass away one day. However, it is not natural for someone to lose their life in an accident, especially when the cause is someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death claims are legal actions brought by specific individuals if another’s unlawful act, neglect, carelessness, or failure to act, caused a close relative’s death. You can think of it this way: If the deceased individual had lived, then they would have had the right to file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for their injuries. This leaves the people left behind to pursue this right on their behalf.
Every state has a wrongful death law, and they vary significantly. Texas’ wrongful death statute will not be the same as Oklahoma, Minnesota, or Washington’s. It’s important to speak with a local wrongful death lawyer.
Fatal accidents may lead to wrongful death cases
A wrongful death claim does not have to arise from a specific type of accident. Any lethal incident that was caused by another individual’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct can lead to a wrongful death suit.
At Begum Law Group, their wrongful death attorneys have represented family members and estates after:
- Fatal car accidents
- Uber and Lyft accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Fatal truck accidents
- Other vehicle accidents
- Defective product incidents
- Work injuries
- Maritime and offshore accidents
- Premises liability incidents
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
Who may bring a wrongful death lawsuit?
Texas significantly limits who may file a wrongful death case. To file suit, you must be a surviving spouse, child, or parent of the decedent. Each of these surviving family members may file an action together, or one can file for the benefit of all of them. Call the wrongful death attorneys with Begum Law Group to discuss this option.
However, if the surviving family members choose not to file suit within three months of the death, then the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate is permitted to do so unless every surviving family member who is entitled to file specifically requested not to file the suit.
You cannot file a wrongful death claim if you are a romantic partner, fianc, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, cousin, or other distant family member.
Who can receive compensation?
Only the surviving family members who are capable of filing a wrongful death lawsuit may recover compensation. This means a surviving spouse, parents, and children may obtain portions of an unlawful death settlement or court verdict in their favor.
What compensation can survivors receive?
The close surviving relatives may receive compensation for:
- Funeral and burial expenses, if paid for by a surviving family member
- Loss of decedent’s earnings
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of decedent’s household, parental, and spousal services
- Loss of decedent’s care, support, guidance, companionship, and love
- Surviving family member’s mental anguish and emotional distress
- Surviving family members psychiatric health care expenses
It is important to note that the compensation the survivors receive is not subject to the decedent’s debts. If your loved one left behind debt that the estate is dealing with, your wrongful death settlement or jury award cannot be put toward those expenses.
How much compensation does each survivor receive?
How much compensation each surviving spouse, parent, or child is entitled to can be a tricky question. This is especially true when there are numerous individuals with differing relationships with the decedent. It may not seem fair for each person to receive an equal portion.
This issue is unique in each case. If your wrongful death case goes to trial, it is up to the jury. If the board decides in your family’s favor, it also determines compensation and how much to give to each survivor.
However, many wrongful death cases do not make it to trial. Instead, they settle in court. In this situation, it may be up to you and your family to distribute compensation. This can be a sensitive conversation and one you should have with an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
If you and other adults agree on how to divide the compensation, then this is a smooth process. We will help facilitate who will receive certain portions. However, if another adult beneficiary disagrees, then it may be necessary to hire separate law firms to work on the case together or file separate wrongful death lawsuits.
When the decedent leaves behind minor children, their interests must be protected. You may request that guardian ad litem to be appointed, or the court may do so. The guardian ad litem is a legal professional who makes a recommendation to the court regarding what is in the best interests of the children involved.
Benefit from a lawyer negotiating your wrongful death settlement
When you believe another person, business, or municipality is responsible for your spouse, parent, or child’s death, you should speak to a wrongful death lawyer. Pursuing compensation on your own is ill-advised. By hiring a lawyer, you increase your chance of a successful outcome and are more likely to obtain payment.
Also, by having an experienced wrongful death lawyer to represent your interests, you’re more likely to maximize a settlement. This is based on many factors.
First, a lawyer is able to determine an appropriate value for your claim. Many families undervalue their financial and emotional injuries after a loved one’s death.
Next, a lawyer is not afraid to file a wrongful death lawsuit. It allows your attorney to gather additional evidence and shows the other party and their insurer that you are serious. It puts pressure on them to settle, avoiding the time and cost of a trial.
Additionally, a lawyer will negotiate. Unless your family receives a phenomenal first settlement proposal—which is rare—your attorney is going to decline the initial offer and provide a counter demand. This is the beginning of negotiations, during which your lawyer will fight hard for you to receive the maximum amount of compensation possible.
Many different factors influence a potential wrongful death settlement. To discuss how much your family’s claim may be worth, call Begum Law Group as soon as possible.
Texas wrongful death statute of limitations
Each state can limit how long you have to file a wrongful death claim. This deadline is known as a statute of limitations. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years. You typically have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death claim. If you file a lawsuit after this date, it will be dismissed by the court.
However, there are various exceptions in which the time to file is extended.
1. A common exception is when you should have discovered that your loved one died due to someone else’s negligence. If you did not learn that someone else was at fault for weeks, months, or years later, then you still may have time to file suit. However, call a wrongful death attorney as soon as you have a claim to avoid waiting too long. You also might have more time if you were a minor when your parent died, or you were physically or mentally incapacitated for a period.
2. If you find yourself mourning the loss of a loved one, and you believe another person or business is at fault for their death, contact our wrongful death attorneys at Begum Law Group. Alexander Begum and his team of attorneys understand how difficult this time is for families. They are here to guide you through the wrongful death lawsuit and insurance claim process. This increases the likelihood of you receiving fair compensation as quickly as possible.