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Losing a loved one due to someone else's misconduct or negligence is a devastating experience. In such cases, families and survivors have the right to seek justice through a wrongful death lawsuit, which aims to compensate for the losses endured. These losses may include the companionship of the deceased, lost wages, and funeral expenses, among others. Contact our team of Texas wrongful death lawyers for a case evaluation.
Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be initiated when a loved one's death results from another individual's legal fault. This could involve scenarios such as car accidents caused by reckless drivers, overserving alcohol leading to drunk driving accidents, or property owners failing to maintain safe premises, among others. Each state has its statutes governing wrongful death suits, defining who can bring such claims and setting limits on damages. These laws were created to provide financial support, especially for widows and orphans.
Elements of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
To initiate a wrongful death lawsuit, several key elements must be present:
- Death: The death of an individual caused by another person's negligence or intent to harm.
- Monetary Losses: Surviving family members must have suffered financial injuries as a result of the death.
- Personal Representative: A personal representative must be appointed to handle the decedent's estate.
It's crucial to file a wrongful death case within the statute of limitations defined by your state, although exceptions may apply if the cause of action is determined later.
Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Pecuniary damages, which encompass the loss of services, support, medical and funeral expenses, and potential inheritance, are the primary form of damages sought in wrongful death suits. Each state defines who is eligible to receive damages and what types of damages can be awarded. Typically, these awards are designed to fairly compensate for financial injuries stemming from the death.
Proving Wrongful Death Claims
Meeting the burden of proof in a wrongful death lawsuit can be intricate. Gathering evidence, including expert witness testimony, may be necessary. Legal costs, such as expert witness fees, are usually advanced by your attorney and repaid from the settlement.
Receiving Wrongful Death Settlements
Once a wrongful death lawsuit is settled, the at-fault party's insurers will issue a check for the full settlement amount to your attorney. Your lawyer will then deduct their fees and legal expenses before providing the remaining amount to the survivors as per the settlement agreement. In some cases, the check may be given to the estate's executor.
Determining Settlement Amounts
The amount of a wrongful death settlement hinges on numerous factors, including the age of the deceased. Medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, as well as the pain and suffering endured, are all considered. Methods like the multiplier or per diem approach may be used to assess pain and suffering's value.
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Just and Deserved Compensation
If you've lost a loved one due to someone's negligence or misconduct, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. It's essential to act promptly, as deadlines apply. Contact an attorney without delay to explore your options and seek the justice your loved one deserves.
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