Wrongful Death Lawyer Arlington, TX
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult events to go through, but when their death was the result of negligent or reckless behavior or actions by another party or parties, the loss can be absolutely devastating. National statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that death from accidental injuries is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. When Texas families lose a loved one in an accidental death, many turn to a wrongful death lawyer Arlington, TX families trust from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC in order to seek financial justice from the people responsible for that death.
Wrongful Death Laws in Texas
Texas law allows for survivors of victims killed in an accident caused by another party to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against that party in cases where a person or corporation caused the death of someone else through any of the following manners:
- A wrongful act
The scenarios in which these deaths occur are widely varied. The majority of cases an Arlington, TX wrongful death lawyer handles includes:
- Automobile accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Dangerous premises/premises liability
- Dangerous or defective products
- Dangerous or defective pharmaceutical drugs
- The commission of a crime
Although deaths are unintentional in many cases, it is common for victims’ families to pursue compensation for wrongful death stemming from intentional murder or other criminal acts as well.
Wrongful Death Civil Lawsuits for Criminal Offenses
When a person commits a crime that causes the death of another, he or she will almost certainly be tried in criminal court. But it is also possible for the victim’s loved ones to pursue a civil lawsuit against the defendant for the same actions.
A good example is a fatal drunk-driving accident. The defendant may be charged with and (hopefully) convicted of a criminal offense like vehicular manslaughter. But regardless of the outcome of the criminal proceedings, the victim’s family can also sue the defendant for wrongful death.
This is even possible in cases of intentional homicide, whether or not the jury chooses to convict. In the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial of the early 1990s, Simpson was acquitted by a criminal jury. But he later lost a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of the victims. It is worth noting that civil lawsuits are won or lost on a “preponderance of the evidence,” which is a lower standard than “guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” Therefore, it is very possible for plaintiffs to win a wrongful death lawsuit even if there was no criminal conviction.
Other Information to Know
Not everyone has the standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Texas law dictates that the potential plaintiffs are generally limited to the victim’s spouse, children, or parents. Adoptive parents and adoptive children are also permitted. Siblings of a decedent cannot sue for wrongful death. However, the estate of the deceased may also be able to make a wrongful death claim, which makes the issue of standing to sue a little more complex. An experienced Arlington, TX wrongful death lawyer can explain who may take legal action on behalf of your specific lost loved one.
Finally, it is important to observe the statute of limitations. Texas law requires plaintiffs to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the victim’s death (with very few exceptions). As such, you should consult an attorney as soon as reasonably possible if you are considering litigation. The more time that passes, the harder it can become to collect strong evidence.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer Arlington, TX, Trusts
To learn more about your rights and options after the death of a loved one, contact our firm to arrange an initial consultation today. Please feel free to write down any questions you may want to ask our Arlington, TX wrongful death lawyer team. That way, you can easily reference your concerns when we meet. We look forward to speaking with you.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Whether or not there have been criminal charges filed against the at-fault party – such as a drunk driving crash or assault – a wrongful death lawsuit is addressed in a separate legal action and in a different court. Texas law only allows certain family members and/or estate representatives to file an action and there is a statute of limitations in place that determines how long after the victim’s death the lawsuit must be filed by.
A wrongful death lawyer from our firm can evaluate a family’s case to determine if their loved one’s death qualifies as wrongful death in the eyes of the law. In order to be successful, the lawyer will need to prove three elements to the court:
The alleged at-fault party had a duty of care to the victim. For example, in a drunk driving crash, the driver who caused the accident had a duty of care to other motorists and the public to obey all traffic laws. Driving under the influence is a violation of Texas law.
The alleged at-fault party breached that duty of care. In the drunk driving crash, when the driver got in their vehicle and began driving even though they had been drinking, that is a breach of the duty of care they owe the public.
The alleged at-fault party’s actions caused the death of the victim. In the above example, if the driver’s inebriated state caused the crash in which the victim was killed.
Call Our Office Today
We understand that no amount of money will ever make up for the loss of your loved one, but your family has the right to financial justice for the negligent actions of the party responsible for the death. Call Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC to meet with an Arlington, TX wrongful death lawyer and find out what legal recourse you may have.
Common Myths About Wrongful Death Claims
If your family member was killed due to another person’s negligence, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim. However, you may have come across several myths that might impact your claim. Here are a few misconceptions about these claims you shouldn’t believe:
- Anyone Can File a Wrongful Death Claim: This isn’t true. In the state of Texas, the only people who can file a wrongful death claim are the deceased person’s parents, spouse, and children, including adoptive parents and children.
- A Person Found Liable of Wrongful Death Will Be Arrested: A wrongful death claim is a civil claim rather than a criminal one. The person found liable for wrongful death will be expected to pay money to the surviving family members for damages, like medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of income. He or she won’t serve jail time.
- You Can File a Wrongful Death Claim Whenever: In Texas, you can only file a wrongful death claim within two years of your family member’s death. Once that deadline has passed, you will no longer be eligible for compensation. That’s why you should discuss your case with a wrongful death lawyer in Arlington, TX as soon as possible.
- Life Insurance Benefits Are Enough: Unfortunately, not everyone has a life insurance policy. Even if your family member did take out a life insurance policy, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t file a wrongful death claim. A claim can provide benefits that life insurance doesn’t address, like pain and suffering.
- You’re Greedy If You File a Wrongful Death Claim: Some people may be reluctant to file a wrongful death claim because they’re afraid they will be seen as greedy. While nothing will make up for the death of a loved one, filing a wrongful death claim doesn’t make you greedy. It can help relieve some of the financial burden caused by death, like medical bills and funeral expenses.
- The Insurance Company Will Offer Me a Fair Settlement: Although it would be nice if the negligent party’s insurance company would offer you a fair settlement for your family member’s death, it’s not realistic. Insurance companies are in the business of making money and won’t have your best interests at heart. For this reason, it’s critical to have an experienced wrongful death lawyer in Arlington, TX on your side. He or she will negotiate with the insurer on your behalf and protect your rights.