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If you have recently lost a loved one due to an accident, and negligence may have played a role in the accident, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. The death of a loved one is a devastating occurrence that not only causes great emotional pain, but it can also cause significant financial suffering as well. An experienced Midland wrongful death attorney can help you seek compensation for a wrongful death.
For a free consultation, call (512) 246 2224 to speak with one of the attorneys at Zinda Law Group. You will not owe us anything unless we reach a favorable result in your case.
Wrongful Death Defined
A death caused by an accident may be considered wrongful if negligence or recklessness played a role in the accident, and the at-fault party may be liable for damages.
Common Wrongful Death Cases
Some common accidents that may result in wrongful deaths are:
Car accidents are an all too frequent occurrence with some tragically resulting in death. Negligent behavior such as distracted driving, fatigued driving, or driving under the influence often results in fatal accidents.
If a fatal accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, the negligent driver may be liable for damages. However, in some cases, the accident may have occurred due to mechanical failure or improperly maintained roadways, in which case the manufacturer or government entity responsible for the roadway may be liable.
Read More: Midland Bicycle Accident Lawyers
Accidents involving large trucks are often fatal. The size of these trucks can make it difficult for truck drivers to see dangers or react in time, so truck drivers must practice caution when operating their vehicles. Negligent behavior such as fatigued driving, speeding, or driving under the influence greatly increase the chance of a fatal accident occurring. A truck driver who has behaved negligently and causes an accident may be liable for the accident. In some cases, the shipping company, government entities, or manufacturers may also be liable.
If a manufactured product does not function as intended and causes an accident that results in death, often caused by a design flaw or a manufacturing defect. The product manufacturer, parts manufacturer, distributor, or retailer may be liable for the defective product.
Doctors are often trusted with people’s lives in order to improve their health, but if they act in a negligent manner, such behavior can often have deadly results. This kind of negligent behavior can include misdiagnosis, mismedication, cutting corners to save effort and time during a procedure, or the failure to properly diagnose a condition. If a doctor has behaved in a negligent manner which results in death, the doctor may be liable.
Some fatalities may often occur while on the property of a business or another third party. Slip and fall accidents are the most common such accidents and often cause traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe internal injuries, or similar injuries that result in a victim’s death. When a wrongful death has occurred on the premises of a business or other third party, the property or business owner will often be held liable, as well as any negligent employees or third parties who may have caused the unsafe conditions or accident.
The workplace can be a dangerous place, and employers have a responsibility to ensure that proper safety precautions are taken to prevent accidents. If an employer fails to do so, often by failing to provide safety equipment, maintain safety guards, or properly maintain work equipment, a fatal accident can occur, and the employer may be liable. Sometimes, however, even if the employer takes the proper precautions, machinery or tools can malfunction, resulting in a fatal accident, and the manufacturer of these devices may be liable.
What to Do After an Accidental Death
1. Contact an Attorney
If a loved one has died as a result of an accident caused by negligence, you should contact an experienced Midland wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. This will allow your attorney to begin investigating the accident to find the details, collect evidence, and prove negligence and liability. Contacting an attorney in a timely manner also helps to ensure you are able to file your claim before the expiration of the statute of limitations.
2. Obtain A Death Certificate
You can obtain a death certificate from the Texas Department of Health.
3. Collect Evidence
After a fatal accident involving a loved one, you should collect and document as much evidence regarding the accident as possible. Evidence such as photos of the site of the accident can help your attorney prove negligence and liability. You should also obtain the contact information of any witnesses to the accident. Other important evidence to collect includes documentation such as accident reports that may have been filed by the employer or local law enforcement.
4. Appoint a Personal Representative of the Estate
Unless a personal representative of the estate is already named in an existing will, you will need to appoint one to represent the loved one’s surviving family in a wrongful death case.
Once you have hired an attorney, they will begin an investigation of the accident. They will collect evidence regarding the accident and the details surrounding it. Your attorney will use the evidence they gather to prove negligence and determine liability.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
Four things must be proven in a wrongful death case to determine negligence and liability:
1. Duty of Care
It must be proven that the at-fault party had a duty of care towards the victim. A duty of care is an obligation to take certain precautions or behave in a certain way in order to prevent an accident from occurring.
2. Breach of Duty
It must be proven that the at-fault party breached this duty by acting in a negligent or reckless manner.
It must be proven that the at-fault party’s negligent actions were the cause of the fatal accident.
It must be proven that the accident caused damages to the victim. In a wrongful death case, damages are typically presumed because of the victim’s death.
Determining Who Is At-Fault
Duty of Care
To prove liability in a wrongful death case, the victim’s family must show that the defendant, or at-fault party, had a duty of care towards the victim. For example, in a truck accident case, the truck driver has an obligation to not drive while sleepy or fatigued, or under the influence.
Breach of Duty
If it has been established that a duty of care existed, it must be shown that this duty was breached. If the truck driver who caused the accident fell asleep at the wheel or was driving while drunk, that would be a breach of duty.
Once it has been demonstrated that there was a breach of duty, it must be proven that the breach of duty caused the accident. A truck driver who has fallen asleep at the wheel could not notice that a car ahead was stopped at a redlight, resulting in a collision, thus, this breach of duty caused the accident.
It must be shown that the accident caused damages to the victim, even if the at-fault party has been proven to have a duty of care that was breached causing the accident. While damages are generally presumed, given the victim’s death, the surviving family of the victim may have to prove damages to them caused by this death.
Potentially Liable Parties
A negligent driver will often be liable for causing a fatal accident.
Manufacturers may be liable if the fatal accident was caused by design or manufacturing defects in the vehicle.
The government entity responsible for maintaining roadways may be liable if poor maintenance or other government actions played a role in causing the fatal accident.
Employers may be liable for fatal workplace accidents, often because of their failure to ensure proper safety measures are taken, safety regulations are followed, or for a failure to conduct proper oversight, in addition to liability for fatal accidents caused by the negligence of another employee.
Employees could be liable if the fatal workplace accident is caused by the employee’s negligence, such as by negligently causing the victim’s fall.
A doctor who negligently causes a patient’s death will often be held liable in medical malpractice cases.
A product manufacturer could be held liable if the death was caused by a product that was negligently designed or manufactured.
A product’s manufacturer will often be held liable if the manufacturer’s product was negligently designed or manufactured and this defect caused the victim’s death.
A retailer or distributor of the defective product can also sometimes be held liable for deaths caused by the defective product.
The property owner is often held liable for slip and fall cases or other fatal accidents occurring on the property of a business or other third party.
An employee who negligently caused a death or unsafe condition leading to a victim’s death may also be held liable.
How To File a Wrongful Claim
1. Consult a Wrongful Death Lawyer
You should contact a Midland wrongful death attorney as soon as possible if a loved one has died in an accident that may have been caused by negligence. Your attorney will help you file your claim, prove negligence and liability, and negotiate a settlement for compensation you may be entitled to.
After you have consulted and hired an attorney, they will immediately begin to investigate the accident. They will attempt to determine how the accident occurred and the facts surrounding it. This information will aid your attorney in determining who may be at fault and proving liability.
Your attorney will attempt to negotiate a settlement for compensation with the at-fault party or their insurers. They will present your claim to the insurer, who may then offer a counter claim. Factors such as evidence that shows negligence and helps to prove liability on the part of the at-fault party will strengthen your claim, while evidence of your own contributory negligence or fault may weaken it.
If a settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer may have to take your case to trial. Your attorney will represent you at this trial and seek to obtain the compensation you may be entitled to.
Wrongful Death Settlement
In Texas, the surviving family of loved ones filing a wrongful death claim are allowed to seek both economic and non-economic damage compensation
- Medical Expenses – The family of the victim in a wrongful death suit may able to seek compensation for medical bills that may have been incurred as a result of the accident, including hospital stays, treatments and medications.
- Funeral Expenses – Compensation for funeral expenses may include all expenses relating to funeral services and burial.
- Loss of Earnings – The surviving family may seek compensation for lost income due to the victim being unable to work after the accident. These damages are based calculated according to the victim’s wages and length of time between the accident and death that victim was unable to perform their occupational duties.
- Loss of Earning Potential – Loss of earning potential is compensation that surviving family members may seek for the loss of potential income. This type of compensation takes into account the wages the victim was earning before the accident, their age, health before the accident, and other variables, to determine how much the victim might have earned had the accident not occurred.
- Pain and Suffering – The surviving family can seek compensation for the physical and emotional suffering the victim may have experienced as a result of the accident. Pain and suffering compensation will vary based upon varying details regarding the victim and the injuries they suffered.
- Emotional Distress – The surviving family may seek compensation for emotional distress they may have suffered as a result of the death of their loved one. This compensation will vary according to the specific details regarding the case.
- Loss of Parental Guidance – Surviving children of the victim may be able to seek compensation for the loss of parental guidance and care that parent provided.
- Loss of Companionship – A surviving spouse may seek compensation for the loss of companionship caused by the death of their spouse.
Legal Time Limits
In Texas, the surviving family members of a loved one who was killed in an accident have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death suit.
Child Wrongful Death
In some cases, parents may seek compensation for the wrongful death of their child. However, these cases differ from cases involving the wrongful death of an adult. In Texas, parents may only seek financial damages for the loss of their loved one, which may be particularly low, especially for younger children. Parents may also pursue wrongful death claims on behalf of the deceased child as a “next friend,” and in doing so, they may be able to seek additional damages on the child’s behalf.
SEEK THE HELP OF A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER TODAY
Zinda Law Group may be able to help you to seek financial compensation for the expenses associated with death such as medical and funeral bills, loss of income, lost insurance benefits, loss of inheritance, and pain and suffering. It is very important to your case that you retain the services of a knowledgeable and compassionate Austin wrongful death lawyer who can help you and your family through this difficult time.
Our wrongful death lawyers understand that you are mourning your loved one and adjusting to life without them. We believe that with our legal help, you can not only seek compensation to ease the financial burden of losing a love one, but also rest easy knowing that the responsible party has been held accountable. Our Austin wrongful death attorneys treat each case equally and no matter the size of your case, you will work directly with a lawyer.
At Zinda Law Group of Midland, we are dedicated to our clients and ensuring that their rights are protected. And as our client, you will pay nothing unless we can win your case. If you believe you may have a wrongful death claim, call (888) 988-7063 or chat us for a free case evaluation.
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