Austin Wrongful Death Attorney
There is nothing more painful than losing a loved one because someone else acted carelessly or recklessly. While criminal charges may punish a person who acted with malice or criminal disregard for another’s safety, a civil action will be necessary to make up for the financial loss of a family’s breadwinner or the loss of a spouse’s, parent’s or child’s companionship.
Though a lawsuit cannot erase the pain of the loss you have suffered, it can help to ensure you and your family’s financial future. The investigation required to develop a lawsuit can also provide answers about what happened as it helps to hold the at-fault party accountable.
The Bob Richardson Law Firm has represented families in the Austin and Waco areas and surrounding Texas communities in wrongful death actions for more than 30 years. If you have suffered the unexpected and unjust loss of a loved one, let us evaluate your case and legal options free of charge and with no obligations.
Call us today toll-free or use our online contact form to set up an appointment. We won’t charge you for our legal services unless we recover compensation for you.
Wrongful Death: Potential Devastation for Any Family
The untimely loss of a loved one is something we hear about happening to someone else nearly every day. Unfortunately, it’s not always someone else. No one is immune to such devastation. Texas families lose fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers every day to:
- Car accidents. More than 3,300 Texans die in motor vehicle accidents in a typical year. More than 480 pedestrians are killed in traffic accidents.
- Motorcycle accidents. In a single recent year, 495 motorcyclists (operators and passengers) were killed in accidents in Texas.
- Truck accidents. There were 531 deaths in truck and other commercial motor vehicle (CMV) accidents in Texas in one recent year.
- Drunk driving accidents. There were 943 drivers charged with DUI after being involved in a fatal crash in Texas in one year.
- Workplace accidents. There were at least 493 fatalities caused by workplace accidents in Texas in one recent year.
- Construction accidents. There were at least 113 fatalities in the construction industry in Texas.
- Dangerous and defective consumer products. Sometimes it’s not a person who has directly caused an accident. Sometimes a product, like a car, appliance, tool or food, was manufactured in a negligent manner that causes a wrongful death.
If you have suffered an untimely and unexpected death in your family because of an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you are not alone. You also are not without potential legal options.
Legal Help After a Wrongful Death
In recognition of the financial burden and emotional suffering that a family endures when a loved one is tragically killed, Texas law provides for several different types of damages (compensation) that may be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. They include:
- Medical costs
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of expected income
- Loss of care and companionship
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
Texas law allows the surviving spouse, children and parents of the deceased to seek such damages.
An insurance company for the at-fault party may contact you or other family members while you are still grieving. They may try to take advantage of your vulnerable state to get you to make a statement or agree to a settlement that fails to fully compensate you for your losses.
It is important to remember that insurance companies are for-profit ventures. Insurance adjusters (who evaluate claims and offer settlements) have the goal of protecting their employer’s bottom line by paying out as little as possible.
Do not sign any statement or otherwise agree to any settlement offered by an insurance company without an experienced attorney’s advice. You could be signing away your right to compensation you deserve.
It is also important to know that, under Texas law, a wrongful death claim generally must be brought within two years after a loved one’s death. If the at-fault party is a government entity, you may need to take action within a matter of months or even days. So, please don’t delay. Wrongful death cases are often complex and time-consuming. It is best to start the necessary work as soon as possible.
The Bob Richardson Law Firm works with a vast network of experts, and our attorneys and staff use the latest technology to investigate, build and present our cases. Through the years, we have developed an approach to wrongful death cases that is aimed at pursuing full and fair compensation. We can provide the same services to you.
Certain close family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Family members with this right may include the surviving spouse, the parents and the children of the deceased person. The claim can be filed by all parties together, or by each party separately. Siblings do not have the right to file a wrongful death claim in Texas.
The executor or administrator of the victim’s estate may bring a wrongful death lawsuit if none of the eligible claimants initiates a claim within three months after the death – unless all the eligible claimants request that no suit be brought.
A surviving close family member may have the legal right to pursue a number of damages. These include financial compensation for lost earning capacity (which can be calculated based on life-expectancy, professional qualifications, past income and other factors), the lost companionship and love of the deceased family member, as well as other damages for the emotional anguish associated with the loss.
Some wrongful death cases may allow for punitive damages – financial compensation to the family that is intended to punish the person responsible for the death. These damages are less common, and may be possible only in cases involving gross negligence and some other situations.
Under the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, eligible family members are limited to two years in which to file a wrongful death claim. The two-year time limit begins to run on the date of death. This is called the statute of limitations, and filing the lawsuit within the time limit is very important.
Once the date has passed, you may lose the right to file a claim, and the lawsuit will be dismissed and cannot move forward, with only narrow exceptions allowed. Initiating a lawsuit as early as possible is important, as there may be critical supporting evidence that needs to be gathered and preserved. It is advised that you start the process as soon as possible after the death of a loved one. It can be difficult to consider legal issues when grieving, but a qualified attorney can manage this situation with compassion and take the legal burden off your shoulders.
A death from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident is one of the most common incidents that prompt family members to file a wrongful death claim. These crashes can involve passenger cars, trucks, commercial trucks, vans, SUVs or other vehicles. If, for example, a business or government entity owns or operates the vehicle, the wrongful death could potentially be filed against several parties.
Most wrongful death lawsuits are related to car accidents in which another person failed to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others, and drove drunk, recklessly, was speeding, racing or texting while driving – all of which are examples of acts of negligence. Other wrongful death claims may arise from bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, construction accidents, defective products, workplace accidents and other incidents.
A wrongful death claim is a legal action in which specific family members seek damages for lost income and other benefits, as well as non-economic damages associated with the mental anguish of the loss. Survival claims are legal actions that compensate the close family for the decedent’s pain and suffering from the time of the injuries until the time of death. In other words, a survival action is a lawsuit that the victim could have brought if he or she had not died. These claims can also compensate the family for the medical costs associated with the injuries prior to the death of the individual. An attorney can evaluate the situation and assist you in filing both wrongful death claims and survival claims if it is appropriate under the circumstances.
Contact Our Texas Wrongful Death Lawyers Today
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas? The wrongful death attorneys of The Bob Richardson Law Firm help families and individuals in the aftermath of tragic accidents. We push hard for proper settlements in negotiations with insurers and we’ll take them to court, if needed, to seek compensation.
Any unexpected death should be investigated independently of the police. To discuss a potential wrongful death claim in Austin, Waco or surrounding Texas communities, contact The Bob Richardson Law Firm today.
Call us toll-free or use our online contact form for a free evaluation of your case.
- Texas Department of Transportation – Texas Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Highlights Calendar Year 2013
- Texas DOT – Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Involved Crashes and Injuries by County 2013
- Texas DOT – DUI (Alcohol) Drivers in Fatal Crashes by Driver Age 2013
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Fatal Occupational Injuries in Texas