Austin Wrongful Death Lawyer
When a loved one dies unexpectedly due to someone else’s fault, our wrongful death attorney can help get you compensation for your losses.
It is always tragic to lose a loved one, and surviving family members may experience financial hardship and be left with no income and no long-term support. Medical bills and funeral costs can put additional strain on surviving members when they’re struggling with feelings of grief and emotional pain. And if a family member’s death was caused by negligence, a family’s grief may be compounded by anger.
Find Out if You Have a Wrongful Death Case
While money can never replace the person you lost, if your family member died due to another party’s negligence or fault, you may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. Under Texas law, a cause of wrongful death exists when a person dies due to another’s “neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.” A settlement award for wrongful death can ease your financial burdens and help your family function and move on with their lives.
Texas wrongful death laws are complicated, and making mistakes can be costly, but help is available from the compassionate wrongful death lawyers at Evans & Herlihy. We understand what you are going through at this difficult time and will take the burden off you by handling all legal hurdles involved so you can concentrate on your family’s recovery.
There are time limits for filing, so don’t delay. Texas has a statute of limitations, or time limit, for filing. According to Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code section 16.003, a wrongful death lawsuit generally must be filed within two years of the deceased person’s death, or the courts will not hear your case.
How Our Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
Texas Statutes section 71.001 states that an action for wrongful death may be brought if the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of one party causes the death of another.
Common situations that may be considered wrongful death include:
- Vehicle accidents when someone acted unlawfully, such as driving drunk through a red light and causing a fatal crash
- Medical malpractice when a doctor didn’t follow a reasonable standard of care, such as a surgeon causing a fatal infection by leaving a sponge in a body cavity
- Work accidents due to an employer’s failure to provide a safe working environment for employees
- Defective products that caused death, even when used properly
- Property accidents such as fatal falls occur if an owner failed to maintain property in a safe manner or warn of danger.
To win your lawsuit, our attorneys would have to prove that the defendant in the case was at fault and therefore legally liable for causing the death of your loved one. We can help do this by:
- Evaluating the facts of how the death occurred to see if a wrongful death case is warranted and what it may be worth
- Filing all paperwork and handling all legal procedures and court appearances in accordance with Texas requirements
- Conducting investigations to gather evidence to prove another party was liable, such as videos from surveillance cameras, police, ambulance, and medical reports and documents
- Interviewing witnesses and first responders
- Hiring experts to reconstruct the accident and provide testimony as to how it occurred, who was at fault, and how the loss of your loved one affects your life
- Handling communications and negotiations with insurance companies and their lawyers
- Building your case and taking it to trial if necessary and arguing in front of a judge or jury.
Our wrongful death lawyer will communicate and work with you throughout the entire process, answering your questions and concerns and informing you of all progress of your case.
Our Austin Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help Win a Damage Award
In Texas, a victim’s spouse, children, or parents – or the executor of the estate – may pursue a wrongful death claim, seeking a damage award to cover financial losses and emotional suffering. In addition, we can help you file a survivor action, which is like a personal injury lawsuit allowed after a death.
The damages you may receive include compensation for the following losses:
- The lost earning capacity of the deceased
- The loss of inheritance, including what the decedent would have reasonably been expected to earn and gift had they lived
- The loss of companionship, society, comfort, household services, and love
- The emotional pain and mental anguish suffered by survivors
- Medical expenses leading up to death
- Funeral expenses.
Punitive damages — In some rare cases where the act that caused the death was grossly negligent or willful, you may also be entitled to exemplary, punitive damages. These are intended to punish the offending behavior and deter such behavior from happening again.
Damage Amounts You May Receive
While there is a wide range of damage awards possible, from the thousands to the millions of dollars, juries tend to be sympathetic when wrongful death is involved. The amount that you receive will depend on the factors involved in the case, including:
- The age and family responsibilities of the deceased
- The earning potential and profession of the deceased
- The circumstances and type of negligence that caused the death
- The severity of the wrongdoing
- The available assets and insurance policies of the defendants
- The jurisdiction the case is heard in and the individual judge and jury
- The negotiating power and skill of your wrongful death lawyer.
Wrongful death cases where family members are asking for financial restitution are brought in civil court. In addition, in cases where the death resulted from a crime such as murder or manslaughter, criminal charges may also be brought.
What Must Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
For your wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, our Austin wrongful death lawyer must show that the defendant(s) in the case were negligent and at fault for causing the accident that led to the death, the same way the deceased would have had to prove liability had they survived the negligent or wrongful act.
Proving fault in a wrongful death lawsuit means showing the following elements exist:
- Duty: The defendant had a duty of care not to cause harm
- Breach: The defendant breached this duty by acting or failing to act
- Cause: This wrongful act, neglect, or default caused the death that would have entitled the victim to file an action for damages if he or she had not died
- Damages: The victim has surviving beneficiaries, children, or dependents who suffered damages resulting from the death.
Examples of Wrongful Death Cases
In 2013, a Texas woman was sentenced to 38 years in prison for causing a crash that killed two people and seriously injured one other. The woman had been drinking at a sports bar for several hours, and after she left the bar, she drove her pickup truck on the wrong side of the highway, causing a head-on crash. The woman’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, and the bar’s security camera footage showed the woman had been stumbling when she left the bar. The sports bar’s insurer agreed to pay $1 million for the victims’ losses, and that sum was split three ways among the survivor and the estates of the deceased.
The outcome of that case illustrates a point of Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 71.001: The definition of “person” includes a corporation, and a corporation can be found negligent if its “agent” or “servant” acted with carelessness. A bartender who serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person could therefore be found negligent.
In another case involving a drunk driver who caused a fatal crash, a jury awarded the victim’s family $16 million in damages, finding the driver’s employer negligent. During the trial, evidence was presented showing that the woman who caused the crash had previously shown up at work intoxicated on at least one occasion, requiring another employee to drive the woman home. But on the day of the fatal crash, the employer ordered the woman to leave work because she was intoxicated. Her blood alcohol level was .40 – five times the legal limit. A jury found the employer shared 65 percent of the fault in the accident.
Drunk driving is just one of the criminal acts that may be the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit in Austin. When a person is the victim of homicide or dies as the result of a criminal act, his family may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. Even if the alleged perpetrator of the crime is found not guilty in a criminal trial, that doesn’t preclude a civil case.
How Wrongful Death Cases Can Originate
Wrongful death cases may arise for several reasons, including:
- Vehicle accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Child abuse or neglect
- Defective products
- Accidental poisoning
- Medical errors
- Landowner negligence.
Why You Should Choose Our Austin Wrongful Death Lawyer
Get the Best Representation Possible. We Have a Proven Winning Record.
The wrongful death attorneys at the Evans & Herlihy Law Firm know how the unexpected death of a family member affects survivors. When the survivors include children, a family may worry about providing for them in the immediate future and in the long term. For many families who pursue wrongful death cases, monetary compensation matters less than ensuring that someone is held accountable for the death of their loved one.
Our Austin wrongful death lawyers understand that grief may make it difficult to talk about what happened to your family member. Be assured that having a lawyer by your side to answer your questions and concerns and fight for justice can help.
If you believe you may have a wrongful death case, call us at (512) 732-2727. Find out how we can help you.