If someone in your immediate family has died because of negligence, you should consult with a qualified Austin wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. While suing someone may be the last thing on your mind at this painful time, you owe it to your loved one to seek justice.
Many tasks fall on your shoulders after a wrongful death. You may have an estate to settle, medical bills to pay, and a dire financial situation due to lack of income. You may feel that you don’t have the time or resources for a lawsuit.
Our Austin wrongful death lawyers would never pressure you to file a lawsuit when you’re not ready. However, we invite you to call us for a free consultation and talk things over.
We’ll listen to you describe your loved one’s experience and then let you know if we can help. We can share your legal options and what you could potentially gain by filing a lawsuit. Then we leave it up to you to let us know when you’re ready.
Here, we’ve compiled some information on wrongful death lawsuits in Austin. Reading through this material will give you a better grasp on what you can do to seek justice for your loved one’s wrongful death.
Making the Decision to Hire a Lawyer and Sue for Wrongful Death
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be painful. It requires you to rehash the details of your loved one’s death. It may require you to hear others deny responsibility for how they hurt your loved one. When you would rather be grieving in private, airing the tragic details of your life may sound like a bad idea.
Further, many people don’t want to be seen as chasing money. Unfortunately, plaintiffs sometimes are branded with an unfair stereotype. The people who criticize victims for filing lawsuits don’t realize that much of the safety regulations America has in place came thanks to lawsuits.
That’s right, lawsuits can be a force for good. Anyone who remembers the exploding Ford Pinto of the 1970s or the Firestone tire blowouts of the 1990s knows that litigation has improved driving safety. Victims who took action were able to get these harmful products off the market and save others from similar harm.
We understand that you would rather have your loved one than work for justice and meaning from their death. However, you have the opportunity to channel your grief and anger into a lawsuit that can help your family and others.
You can get financial compensation to help your family and improve safety practices to help others. If you would like to discuss the possibility of filing a wrongful death lawsuit, call Grossman Law Offices for a free consultation.
Many Austin Lawyers Claim to Be Wrongful Death Attorneys But Don’t Have the Track Record That We Do
Wrongful death claims can involve a significant amount of compensation. They also take a heavy emotional toll on the victim’s family. Because so much is on the line both emotionally and financially, you don’t want just any attorney who claims they can handle your case.
You want a law firm with a proven track record of successful, compassionate advocacy for families.
Here are some of our successful wrongful death cases:
- $7.5 million commercial vehicle wrongful death settlement;
- $5.45 million truck accident wrongful death settlement;
- $5 million truck accident wrongful death settlement;
- $3.4 million motorcycle accident wrongful death settlement; and
- $3.2 million product liability accident wrongful death settlement.
At Grossman Law Offices, we take our responsibility to provide a voice for the voiceless seriously. We fight for your family’s right to just compensation, and we put the full arsenal of our skilled legal team to work for you.
Grossman Law Client Story: 18-Wheeler Accident Wrongful Death
Many times, our clients are motivated by much more than the financial aspect of a wrongful death lawsuit.
For example, our client Mindi L. was seeking closure for her father’s death. She was grieving and wanted answers. She didn’t know what all had contributed to his fatal accident.
When Mindi spoke with other law firms, they seemed interested only in earning a paycheck. However, Mindi found a refreshing change of pace at Grossman Law Offices. When she met us, we spoke with her for several hours, learning about her and her family. We understood that closure was her priority in a wrongful death lawsuit and showed Mindi how we would fight to achieve this end. Mindi trusted us, and we stayed true to our word.
We immediately began to investigate the details of her father’s accident. As with many cases, the police report didn’t tell the whole story. Our investigators worked to get Mindi the answers she needed.
We discovered that Mindi’s father had been involved in a minor accident on his way to work. He pulled to the shoulder of the highway. While he was awaiting aid on the side of the road, a trucker lost control of his truck and plowed into Mindi’s father’s car. Mindi’s father was ejected from the vehicle and died.
We investigated the trucker and found that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident. Unbelievably, the insurance company initially offered to pay only funeral expenses for Mindi’s father. We let the insurance company know that this offer was unacceptable and settled the case for the full value of the defendant’s insurance policy.
This settlement did not take away Mindi’s grief. However, it gave her closure about the events of the accident that took her father. The settlement will provide for her and her family for years to come.
You Can Help Even if You're Not Related to the Deceased
There are a few things you can do to help even if you aren’t related to the deceased.
First, you can inform the relatives of the deceased that they have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim.
After reading this information and gaining an understanding of Texas wrongful death claims, you can explain the requirements to loved ones.
You can refer them for a free consultation with our Austin wrongful death attorneys.
Also, if you are the executor of the deceased’s estate, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate. You have this option if the family doesn’t file within three months of the death and if they don’t object to you filing.
Accidental Fatality Statistics in Austin, Texas
Austin Wrongful Death Attorney FAQ
During our decades of helping victims of personal injury and family members who have lost a loved one, we’ve helped clients understand the lawsuit process.
Here are some things you might be wondering about filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Texas, these relatives of the person who died can bring a wrongful death claim:
- Surviving spouse,
- Parents, and
If the spouse, children, or parents don’t file a wrongful death lawsuit within three months of the person’s death, the estate’s executor can sue. However, the spouse, children, and parents can forbid the executor from suing.
How Much Time Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
You have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Sometimes, our wrongful death attorneys in Austin, TX, can find exceptions to this statute of limitations. Even if it has been more than two years since your loved one’s death, don’t hesitate to call us for a free consultation.
How Do You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case?
To prove that someone’s negligence caused a wrongful death, you must show these elements:
- The person had a duty of care to act responsibly toward others;
- The person breached that duty of care by doing something reckless or irresponsible; and
- The person’s breach of care was a primary factor in your loved one’s death.
Notice that the person’s breach of care should be a primary factor that caused your loved one’s death. In mathematical terms, this means the person must be 50% or more responsible for the death. Even if your loved one also exhibited some negligence, you can still recover if your loved one was 50% or less responsible for the accident.
How Long Will a Wrongful Death Case Take?
We aim to resolve your case as quickly as possible, while attaining maximum compensation.
When we meet with you for a free consultation, we discuss your goals for the wrongful death case. Maybe you are seeking closure and primarily want our investigators to find out what happened. On the other hand, your primary motivation might be compensation to provide for your family.
We keep your goals in mind when negotiating for a settlement or taking your case to trial. Generally, we can resolve cases much sooner with a settlement, while taking a case to trial might extend litigation for more than a year.
What Will Be Expected of Me?
When you meet with us for a free consultation, please bring any relevant documents to support your claim. We ask you to continue forwarding evidence to us throughout the litigation. Other than that, we aim to make the litigation process as convenient as possible for you. Our wrongful death attorneys in Austin, TX, handle all negotiations for you. We’ll even make home visits or meet with you virtually to discuss your case if you prefer not to drive to our office.
What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a wrongful death case, you can claim both financial and emotional damages from your loved one’s death. These damages might include:
- Medical expenses,
- Funeral expenses,
- Pain and suffering,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of companionship, and
- Loss of future earnings.
Some of these expenses are easily calculated using receipts, bills, and paystubs. Other damages that are primarily emotional can be more difficult to calculate. Our attorneys will work with you to come up with a fair damages request that reflects the financial and emotional harm you have suffered because of your loved one’s death.
How Do Texas Wrongful Death Laws Apply to Same-Sex Couples in Austin?
In Texas, the spouse, children, or parents of the person who died can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Until 2015, a same-sex partner was left out of this list of people entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, that changed with the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges.
This Supreme Court case legalized same-sex marriage across the United States. Now, same-sex spouses have the same legal rights as heterosexual spouses. A same-sex spouse of someone who died in negligent circumstances can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
While a same-sex spouse can file a lawsuit, this right does not extend to domestic partners who are not married. However, there are some exceptions.
For instance, many same-sex couples in Texas may be considered married under common law. To fulfill common law marriage requirements, Texas couples must do the following:
- Agree to be married,
- Live together as husband and wife, and
- Represent to others that they are married.
If you fulfill these requirements, you may be considered married under common law and gain eligibility to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Many Texas same-sex couples may have been considered married under common law upon the Obergefell decision.
Another option for an unmarried same-sex partner might be to pursue a wrongful death action as executor of your partner’s estate. If you aren’t sure whether you can file a lawsuit for your same-sex partner’s death, contact our law offices for a free consultation. We’ll discuss your claim and evaluate every legal avenue for you to pursue a wrongful death action.
What's the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Claim?
So what’s the difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival claim?
A survival claim allows the estate of the deceased to continue the deceased’s personal injury claim. A survival claim is not a cause of action, but merely a legal tool under the Texas Survival Statute that extends the right to file a personal injury claim. A survival claim can cover damages for the deceased’s pain, suffering, and mental anguish.
A wrongful death claim allows the family of the deceased to sue for damages related to a death caused by someone’s wrongful action. Where a survival claim covers injuries the deceased suffered before death, a wrongful death claim compensates the family for their suffering after their loved one’s death.
One difference between a survival claim and a wrongful death claim is that a survival claim does not necessarily require proof that the defendant’s action caused the death. If a person sustains injuries that are unrelated to their cause of death, the family can sue for those personal injuries under a survival claim.
For instance, imagine that Person A suffers a broken leg due to a slip and fall incident at a grocery store. The person initiates a personal injury lawsuit for the damages sustained from that slip and fall. While the case is still in litigation, Person A is murdered. In this case, the slip and fall is not the cause of Person A’s death. The family cannot bring a wrongful death action against the grocery store. However, the estate can use a survival action to continue pursuing Person A’s personal injury lawsuit against the grocery store. Meanwhile, the family could bring a wrongful death claim against the murderer.
Another difference between these two legal options is who can bring a lawsuit. A wrongful death claim allows the spouse, parent, or child of the deceased to sue. A survival claim allows the executor of the deceased’s estate to sue on behalf of the estate.
What's the Time Limit for Hiring an Austin Wrongful Death Attorney and Filing a Lawsuit?
The Texas statute of limitations allows you to file a wrongful death lawsuit for two years after your loved one’s death. It’s best to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney in Austin, TX, as soon as possible to avoid having your case thrown out because of this time limit.
Am I Able to Hire Grossman's Wrongful Death Attorneys Without Coming to Your Office Due to COVID-19?
Yes! Our legal team can work fully remotely. This means that we can come to your house or meet virtually. We can exchange documents online or by mail.
Though our wrongful death lawyers aren't based in Austin, we regularly travel to take cases across the state.
While COVID-19 complicates many areas of life, it doesn’t have to negatively impact your wrongful death action. Contact us to set up a free virtual consultation with our experienced attorneys.