Lancaster Wrongful Death Lawyers
If You've Lost a Loved One due to Another Person's Negligence in Lancaster or Cockrell Hill Texas, Speak With Attorney E. Michael Grossman Today
A wrongful death takes place when someone passes away due to the negligent behavior of a liable party that causes or contributes to that death. But that is a rather abstract legal definition and does not close to adequately describing the enormous sense of loss that the remaining family members and others feel after learning someone they love has been robbed.
If the careless behavior of a liable party results in this sort of tragedy, then the feeling of loss is even more acute. This can not only lead to long lasting emotional turmoil but significant financial distress as well.
There are many different reasons that wrongful deaths occur, and several different ways in which they take place. They can result from an accident caused by a drunk driver, a job-related accident, or a defective or poorly manufactured product. These can take place very quickly and with no warning. When a wrongful death occurs in shocking and sudden fashion, the resulting loss can be devastating for a family that can leave them reeling for years. When this sort of catastrophic tragedy takes place, the last thing that the loved one’s left after this kind of death may be thinking about is taking legal action to force those responsible for the loss to face accountability.
There are a number of reasons, however, that taking legal action in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas can be a vitally important step in the healing process. The Lancaster Texas wrongful death lawyers with Grossman Law Offices provide you this article in order to give you some basic information on the process of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit, the issues that face plaintiffs in this sort of legal action, and what you can expect from the opposition in your lawsuit. We will also let you know how we may be of assistance in helping your family through this incredibly different time.
It is imperative, however, that you are made aware of the fact that this article is only designed to provide you with basic information in regard to the law and how it pertains to wrongful deaths. It is in no way intended to act as any sort of substitute for the advice of an actual attorney who is familiar with the details of your specific case. If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys, please call 1-855-326-0000 (toll free) for a confidential and free consultation.
The Importance of Taking Legal Action if You have Lost a Loved One Due to a Wrongful Death
There are two main reasons for pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit after a fatal accident - seeking financial restitution as well as justice. A wrongful death lawsuit helps the grieving family members of an accident victim obtain the compensation to which they are entitled for the suffering they have experienced. There is no amount of money, of course, that can ever truly make up for the incredible pain that your family is going through, the hard fact is that this sort of tragedy can result in crippling monetary losses for those who remain - this is especially the case if the lost loved one was the family’s primary financial provider. The restitution that can be secured through a wrongful death lawsuit can relieve many of the financial burdens that this sort of loss creates: medical bills, funeral costs, pain and suffering (experienced not only by the family, but the lost loved one as well) and more. Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas is always important, but again, it is particularly important when the lost loved one is the family’s main financial provider. The compensation that can be obtained through this type of legal action can help a family recover financially so that they can turn their entire focus toward recovering emotionally from the tremendous tragedy they have suffered.
The other main reason to pursue legal action, as stated previously, is to hold the parties responsible for the accident responsible for their negligence that either contributed to or caused that accident. In the large majority of these kinds of cases there are no criminal charges filed. As a result, a civil lawsuit may be the only way possible for your family to see to it that justice is served and those responsible for your loss are forced to face accountability. When you can severely punish a defendant for this sort of terrible act of negligence, you can force it to change its behavior. That way, that defendant will not want to make the same kind of mistake in the future that can lead to another family having to go through this incredible amount of pain. At Grossman Law Offices, our Cockrell Hill wrongful death lawyers will work tirelessly and passionately to make sure each and every liable party is held fully responsible for the role they all played in robbing you of your loved one and to make sure you obtain the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled for the horrible suffering you have been forced to endure. Those parties may not be facing jail time for their negligence, but you can still make them pay dearly.
Determining the Validity of Your Wrongful Death Claim
The vast majority of people who have to endure this sort of tragedy have absolutely no understanding of how the law works in this sort of case. Because they have no background whatsoever in the law, they have no idea whether or not they have the basis of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent defendant. In order for you and your family to have the grounds for a legitimate wrongful death lawsuit, there are some basic conditions that need to be in place. These conditions include:
- The victim must have died as a result of the negligence of another entity or person. This negligent party could have either contributed to the cause of the fatal accident or been the "sole proximate cause," in legal terms, of the accident that resulted in the death. The term "proximate cause," legally speaking, means that that responsible party played a role in the events that led to the fatal accident. The term "sole proximate cause" means that there will be only one defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the accident.
- The deceased has to have a beneficiary or a direct surviving family member who is able to take legal action in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.
- The family or the accident victim has to have suffered some type of tangible monetary loss because of the accident. In legal terms, the financial losses incurred as the result of an accident are known as "damages."
You will likely have the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit if at least one of the basic aspects listed above was in existence at the time of the accident that led to the death of the victim. If you are not sure whether or not you have the grounds for legal action, please call the Lancaster wrongful death lawyers with Grossman Law Offices as soon as you can at 1-855-326-0000 (toll free) for a free and confidential consultation.
In addition, you also need to be made aware of the fact that you can pursue a civil lawsuit whether or not the defendant or defendants in your case are facing criminal charges. The presence of criminal charges, or the lack of criminal charges, has no bearing on whether or not you will be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
A pedestrian, for instance, may die after being struck by a distracted driver. Most of the time when this sort of incident takes place, the negligent driver will not be facing criminal charges. However, that driver will more than likely be facing criminal charges if he or she was drunk at the time of the fatal accident. But whether or not the driver was merely careless or criminally negligent by driving while drunk, the family members of that accident victim can still pursue legal action in the form or a wrongful death lawsuit. That lawsuit, in fact, could be made significantly stronger if criminal charges are filed, whether the defendant is found guilty or innocent.
The Damages that are Available through a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas
As covered earlier, the term "damages," from a legal perspective, is the financial losses that have been incurred by either the victim of a fatal accident or that victim’s surviving family members. Damages in a Texas wrongful death lawsuit are separated into two categories - wrongful death damages and survival damages. A jury will many times view both of these kinds of damages very differently. As a result, it is essential that both kinds of damages be sought in a wrongful death lawsuit. This way, the grieving family members can obtain the compensation to which they are entitled for their loss, and the defendants are forced to face full accountability for the negligence they committed.
The damages directly incurred by family members who have lost a loved one due to a fatal accident are known as wrongful death damages. Multiple immediate family members, such as a spouse, parents or children, can seek wrongful death damages either separately or collectively. However, there will more than likely be only one plaintiff on the court record. In most cases (however, not always), wrongful death damages will provide restitution for expenses incurred due to funeral bills, pain and suffering experienced by the family due to their loss, and the medical expenses the victim incurred prior to death. There are other damages that can also be pursued, such as the loss of consortium or unique familial love that only the victim could have provided and the loss of financial support that had been provided by the victim.
On the other hand, survival damages are those incurred by the deceased, or would have been incurred had the victim survived the accident that took place. Only one family member is allowed to seek survival damages, because that family member is basically acting as a proxy, or a "stand in," for the deceased in a Texas wrongful death case. However, it is very important to note that the family member pursuing survival damages can also pursue wrongful death damages. Only the closest living family member can seek compensation through a claim for survival damages. This person is normally the spouse, but if there is no spouse, or that person chooses not to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, then the children are next in line, starting from the oldest to the youngest. If there are no living children, then the next family members in line are the parents, and then possibly a brother or sister. There is a very clear line of succession in regard to filing a survival damages lawsuit, and again, only one family member can pursue this kind of litigation.
Included in survival damages is monetary compensation for damages such as the medical expenses the deceased accident victim would have incurred had he or she survived, lost wages that person would have incurred during the time he or she would have had to miss from work, and any lost earning capacity the victim would have incurred as well. Other justifiable damages include the pain and suffering that the remaining family members experienced. In addition, the emotional and mental trauma suffered by the family can also be compensated, as can the value of the deceased’s potential long-term injury or disfigurement, and any damage to the decedent’s property that occurred because of the accident. This includes, for instance, anything of value that may have been in the victim’s automobile or the vehicle itself if the fatal accident was a car wreck.
Many of these kinds of damages, however, are quite subjective and can be very difficult for a novice attorney to be able to calculate accurately. And doing so can be nearly impossible for a non-lawyer. It is very, very hard for someone with little law experience or someone with no legal background to know how much compensation to seek in regard to many of these subjective damages. However, the Lancaster TX wrongful death lawyers with Grossman Law Offices have two decades of experience in these kinds of case, and we have the knowledge necessary to be able to accurately calculate damages incurred by grieving family. Without being able to accurately calculate - and also justify - all of the damages associated with an accident, suffered not only by the bereaved family members but also the victim, then that family will have very little chance of securing the equitable restitution that they deserve for the suffering they have experienced. As a result, the negligent defendant in the case can escape having to face full accountability for their actions that robbed you of your loved one.
The Effect Texas Worker’s Comp Insurance Can have on a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas
When a wrongful death lawsuit is initiated stemming from a workplace accident that results in a fatality, this lawsuit involves specific work injury laws in Texas. In this sort of tragic instance, the first question that has to be answered is whether or not the victim’s employer carried worker’s compensation insurance. In about half of the workplace accidents that result in death, the employer is covered by this insurance. If a company has purchased a worker’s comp policy, that company is referred to legally as a worker’s comp "subscriber." And in Texas, worker’s comp subscribers are immune from legal action. There is one exception, however, and that is when an employer’s gross negligence leads to the death of a worker. When this is the case, then that employer can be targeted by legal action in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Cockrell Hill wrongful death lawyers with Grossman Law Offices have extensive experience in both wrongful death lawsuits and fatal work accident litigation. It is imperative that you have the help of an attorney who has this depth of experience when you try and seek justice against a grossly negligent employer. However, when you are trying to establish gross negligence, you have to satisfy an extremely high standard of proof in order to prove the employer’s clear guilt. When a workplace accident results in a fatality, and the victim is in the employ of a worker’s comp subscriber, if that accident was caused by the employer’s standard negligence (otherwise known as simple carelessness), then the only way that the grieving family can obtain compensation is through the worker’s comp insurance policy of the employer. However, that policy will more than likely not come anywhere close to providing equitable restitution for the lost income that the victim had provided, as well as other damages incurred due to that fatal workplace accident.
The Lancaster wrongful death lawyers with Grossman Law Offices, however, can investigate a workplace accident in order to determine all of the potentially liable defendants that may have contributed to the fatal accident or caused it outright. Typically when a fatal workplace accident occurs, there is some sort of third party involvement. When multiple parties face liability for the death of an employee, the grieving family members may be eligible to seek restitution in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit against each and every one of those potentially liable third parties. This restitution can be sought in addition to restitution through the employer’s worker’s compensation policy. This way, a grieving family, in a manner of speaking, can "piggyback" third party suits onto the employer’s worker’s comp claim. There are other times where fatal workplace accidents take place through defective machinery or products. This opens the manufacturer of that product to a possible third party lawsuit and also a defective product lawsuit.
If someone has no legal background or is a novice lawyer, trying to sort out all of these issues is very complicated. However, a skilled and seasoned Lancaster wrongful death attorney will have the experience needed to provide your family with the best chance possible of obtaining the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled for the suffering you have been forced to endure.
Dealing with a Wrongful Death Stemming from Medical Malpractice
Another type of wrongful death lawsuit results when medical malpractice is committed. But this kind of legal action has been made much more difficult due to recent tort reform in Texas. This reform, in fact, has make it exceedingly challenging for grieving family members to obtain compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. It has not, however, made it impossible.
Tort reform was originally intended to reduce the amount of frivolous lawsuits from further burdening an already badly overloaded judicial system. The result of this reform, however, has been to make it very, very hard for victims to pursue legitimate medical malpractice lawsuits against medical practitioners who have committed negligence. To make matters even more difficult, there have been caps placed on the amount of money that can be awarded by the court (or that an attorney can negotiate on behalf of a grieving family) in a single medical malpractice legal action. What this basically means is that a grieving family may not be able to obtain the full and fair compensation to which it is entitled. If a lawsuit is limited to only one healthcare provider, it will be exceedingly difficult for that family to get what it has coming. However, when the Cockrell Hill wrongful death attorneys with Grossman Law Offices investigate a medical malpractice claim, we look for all of the potentially liable parties that may have played a role in the incident that led to the wrongful death. Some of these parties may enjoy protection in the form of caps that limit their liability, others may not enjoy that kind of protection. A third party lawsuit could be filed that will approximate the "piggyback" model referred to above in regard to worker’s compensation cases resulting from fatal workplace accidents.
It is also imperative that you are made aware of the fact that several law firms will shy away from taking on a medical malpractice case because it is so challenging to win because of not only tort reform, but other extremely technical aspects as well. However, the Cockrell Hill wrongful death lawyers with Grossman Law Offices are very familiar with all of the challenges associated with this kind of case, and we thus have the experience necessary to help you secure the equitable restitution that you deserve due to the negligence of a medical practitioner.
Hurdles You will have to Overcome in Order to Win
Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit will involve some sort of insurance policy. And in these kinds of cases, there is normally a vast sum of money on the line. Both the deceased and the deceased’s family have very likely incurred extensive damages, and the insurance company covering the defendant responsible for that fatal accident will have to pay a great deal of money if it loses its case.
Because there will be so much money at stake, the defendant’s insurance provider will do anything and everything it can to make sure that you lose your case. The insurer will be coldhearted in its attempt to defeat you because it could not care less about the suffering that you have experienced - all it cares about is keeping its profits as high as possible. The evidence in the case could all point squarely at the guilt of the defendant, but the insurance carrier covering that defendant will still work feverishly in an attempt to either reduce your claim significantly or not pay you a dime. This is one of the biggest reasons that you will need the help of a skilled and seasoned Lancaster wrongful death lawyer in order to have the best possible chance of obtaining the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled for the suffering you have been forced to endure.
Insurance companies representing defendants typically try to shift blame for an accident that results in a fatality to some other party that was involved in the accident, or even to the victim. The insurer associated with your case will, along with its adjusters and defense lawyers, vigorously defend its policy. You have to expect to be subjected to all manner of aggressive tactics employed by the defendant’s insurer; they may, in an effort to have your wrongful death claim denied, call your loved one’s actions - or even lifestyle - into question. It will be up to you and your Lancaster Texas wrongful death lawyers to have the hard evidence needed to build the strongest case possible, one that can speak for your departed loved one. Otherwise, the defendant and defendant’s insurance provider may be able to talk their way out of having to pay you a dime, and thus be successful in escaping liability. The wrongful death lawyers with Grossman Law Offices have represented clients in these kinds of cases for the past two decades, and during that time we have learned how to defeat these tactics and methods. We will make sure that you are treated fairly in your case, your rights are protected, and you have the best possible chance of securing the compensation that you deserve for the suffering you have experienced.
In addition, another obstacle that can be placed in the way of your wrongful death lawsuit is time itself. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the victim’s death. There are some situations in regard to gross negligence where this timeline can be extended. But most of the time, the grieving family of a lost family member has only two years to pursue legal action and see that justice is served for that terrible loss. This may sound like a long time, but the reality is that from a legal perspective that really isn’t. A thorough investigation into the accident will more than likely be needed, and these investigations can take a year or more - the higher the number of potentially liable parties, the longer it will take. Asset checks also need to be conducted into the potential defendants so that you can be sure they have the resources necessary to pay the compensation to which you are entitled. It will be a waste of time, of course, to seek legal action against a party that does not have the money to pay you.
Another reason that an investigation needs to be launched into the accident that robbed you of your loved one as soon as possible, is that critical evidence can rapidly disappear. The longer you wait to have an investigation started on your behalf, the more damage you may be doing to your case. The defendant has more than likely already started its investigation, and while you would like to think that investigation is being performed in an ethical manner, many of them are not. Nefarious activities could be underway at this very moment that will do irreparable damage to your case, and you may never know it. Physical evidence can also disappear due to weather conditions, road construction or other factors, and witnesses can suddenly decide they no longer want to be involved in your case or their memories can become cloudy. For these and several other reasons, it is critically important that you hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer just as soon as you can in order to have the best chance possible of winning your case and obtaining the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled for the incredible suffering that you have been forced to endure due to the negligence of another party or parties.
How Grossman Law Offices Can Help You
We are well aware of the fact that one of the most devastating experiences that a family can endure is the sudden and shocking loss of a loved one. Life must go on for the grieving family members, of course, but the pain and suffering, loss of critical income, the ever-growing mountain of bills that will not go away and several other factors can make this sort of tragedy overwhelming. We know how difficult of a time that you are going through, but we want to help you get through it. And we want to help you make sure those responsible for causing your tragic loss are forced to face accountability for the negligence that robbed you of your loved one. Whether it is from one defendant or several defendants, we want to help you secure the restitution necessary for you to be able to recover financially so that you are able to focus all of your energy on recovering emotionally. In addition, by severely punishing those whose negligence cost you your loved one, you can force them to change their behavior so they are not able to cause similar suffering for another family in the future.
The insurance company involved in your case, again, will do whatever it can to either pay you as little as possible or nothing at all. You should not have any kind of communication whatsoever with this insurer - and you definitely should not accept any sort of settlement offer - without having an experienced attorney by your side making sure your rights are protected.
Our wrongful death lawyers in Lancaster Texas are here to help you secure the equitable restitution that you have coming for the suffering you have experienced. During our two decades of representing clients in these kinds of cases we have gone up against and defeated nearly every major insurance company in the nation. Because they know of us and our reputation for success, they will not want to face our attorneys in court. As a result, in many cases they will opt to offer our clients fair settlements. They would rather do that than risk losing much more money in a trial. A fair settlement is of a great benefit to a plaintiff because the plaintiff gets his or her money much quicker and there is no need for the stress and uncertainty of a trial. However, if a trial does become necessary, we will devise a strong and effective strategy that will give you the best chance possible of winning.
If you have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another person or entity, please do not hesitate to call the Cockrell Hill wrongful death lawyers with Grossman Law Offices at 1-855-326-0000 for a free and confidential consultation in regard to all of the circumstances surrounding the accident. We will provide you with a frank assessment of your case’s strengths and weaknesses and let you know how we may be able to help. If you have any questions whatsoever in regard to anything you have read in this article, wrongful death law in particular or your case in general, we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer them.