El Paso Wrongful Death Lawyers
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The death of a loved one is never easy. While dealing with the death of a loved one is always painful, it can be especially traumatic when the death was caused by another person’s actions or negligence, also known as a “wrongful death.”
Every year, people across El Paso and Texas grieve the loss of family members who died as the result of wrongful death, and the survivors are often left to deal with not only emotional pain but also severe financial losses.
At Zinda Law Group, we have helped countless clients recover the financial compensation they deserve after a wrongful death. Though no amount of money can ever replace your loved one, it can help you and your family deal with the many unexpected expenses you are likely to face now and in the future.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death case is a unique personal injury lawsuit that is typically pursued when there is a fatality due to another person’s negligence or intentional harm. A wrongful death can the result from a wide range of events or accidents. Wrongful death actions often include actions brought as the result of:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Birth injuries
- Product liability
- Workplace accidents
- And more
Wrongful Death Defined
In Texas, family members historically could not sue an individual responsible for the wrongful death of their loved one. That all changed when Texas passed the Wrongful Death Act. This act allowed spouses, parents, and children of someone who died because of a negligent individual to sue. The relevant Texas statute states that a lawsuit for wrongful death may be brought if the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of one party causes the death of another.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
To seek recovery in a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove that the individual that caused the death was negligent. In order to prove that the individual was negligent, you must prove that:
- the individual owed a legal duty
- the legal duty was breached
- the breach of the duty caused the death, and;
- the death caused monetary loss.
To give an example, imagine that a drunk driver kills another driver. A claimant would state the following in his or her lawsuit: first, that the drunk driver owed a duty not to drive under the influence. Second, the driver breached this duty by driving under the influence. Third, that the driver’s driving under the influence caused the death. And finally, that the death caused monetary loss—hospital bills, funeral expenses, etc.
Determining Who Is at Fault
In a previous section, we listed the different types of wrongful death cases. Though each case is different in terms of facts, in every case, a wrongful death claimant must show that the party it sues was negligent.
In a car accident wrongful death case, the claimant must show that the offending driver was negligent by texting while driving or by committing some other negligent act.
In a truck accident wrongful death case, the claimant must show that the truck driver was negligent by sleeping at the wheel or the like. In a workplace wrongful death case, the claimant must show that the employer was grossly negligent by perhaps not following a well-established safety protocol.
In a medical malpractice wrongful death case, the claimant must show that the health care provider was negligent by perhaps making an incorrect diagnosis.
In wrongful death cases involving defective products, the claimant must show that the company that made the product was negligent. Finally, in a premises liability wrongful death cases, the claimant must show that the owner of the premises was negligent. An example of this may be not checking to see if there were hazardous materials on the premises.
Who Can File?
Whether your loved one died because of a work-related accident, a car accident, medical malpractice, or another cause, if another person or group is at fault for the death, you may be able eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Survivors or close family members of the person who died can file a wrongful death claim. Family members who can file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of victims include:
- Spouse of deceased
- Biological and adopted children of deceased
- Parents of the deceased
- Siblings of the deceased
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim
1. Collect Evidence
Make sure that you collect all of the bills associated with the death of the deceased. Also, collect any paystubs or any other evidence of the deceased’s earning capacity.
2. Get a Lawyer
If you decide to file a claim and you believe that you may be able to file a claim on your own without hiring a lawyer, it may be still useful to at least consult with a lawyer in order to maximize your chances of seeking the highest compensation.
Read More: How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Cost?
Your lawyer will proceed to investigate your case. In doing so, they will seek to establish fault, build the strongest case possible for you and help you in estimating the value of your claim.
Once your case is built, your attorney will start the negotiation process with the other side. They will issue a demand letter stating how much they should pay you in compensation and then negotiation starts.
If an agreement is reached in the negotiation stage, then your case will be settled and your lawyer will walk you through the steps of receiving your settlement check. Note that most cases are settled before ever having to step foot into a courtroom. If an agreement is not met at this stage, then your case will proceed to trial. Your attorney and legal team will be with you each step of the way during the trial process.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
“Damages” refers to a sum of money awarded by a court to compensate someone for an injury or loss. Texas wrongful death law allows victims to recover many different types of damages. You may be entitled to compensation for a variety of emotional and financial losses, such as:
Economic Damages – this includes monetary compensation to match:
- the value of financial support family members would have received if the deceased were still alive
- the value of household services the deceased would have contributed to if he or she was still alive
- the value of the medical expenses related to the deceased’s death, the value of the funeral and burial expenses,
- the value of the deceased’s wages and benefits.
- Medical expenses
- Burial and expenses
- Present and future financial losses
Non-Economic Damages -This includes compensation to compensate for the loss of companionship, mental and emotional distress, and include:
- Emotional suffering
- Loss of decedent’s earnings
- Loss of love, care, and companionship
Legal Time Limits
In Texas, you have two years from the deceased’s date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Child Wrongful Death
Putting a value on a human being is a tricky task. Though an adult who is employed may be valued by his or her earning capacity, putting a value on a child for wrongful death compensation purposes is extremely difficult. In general, when evaluating a child’s value for wrongful death compensation purposes, the judge or jury may consider the life expectancy, the child’s earning capacity, and other such factors. These factors are hardly clear-cut. For instance, if the deceased child was eighteen years old and accepted to MIT, it may be easier to evaluate his or her earning potential, but if the child was only six years old when he or she died, then the potential earning criteria is useless.
Get Help From Our El Paso Wrongful Death Attorneys
Wrongful death cases are complex and can be emotionally exhausting, but an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you maximize recovery and get some justice in the form of monetary compensation. Our compassionate El Paso wrongful death lawyers and staff can answer all of your questions, investigate your case, and fight to get justice for your loss.
The wrongful death lawyers at Zinda Law Group of El Paso provide compassionate support to the families of the deceased and an aggressive pursuit of financial compensation and accountability from those responsible for the death. In the difficult time following the loss of a loved one, we want to relieve you of as much burden as possible. By securing a competent wrongful death lawyer, you can rest assured that the appropriate steps will be taken to seek the maximum compensation available.
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