If you recently lost a family member in a fatal accident caused by another party in Texas, it’s important to know your options for legal recourse. A wrongful death claim can help your family hold the party responsible for the accident accountable for their actions and recoup compensation for the losses incurred by the death. A wrongful death suit mirrors a personal injury claim in many ways but entails several unique statutes that you must understand before embarking on this type of case.
When it comes to filing a wrongful death suit or any type of personal injury claim, it is natural for the plaintiff to wonder how much compensation they could secure from the defendant responsible for the damage in question. Claims for a wrongful death functionally replace the personal injury claim the victim would have been able to file had they survived. Essentially, if the decedent could have filed a personal injury suit against another party, their surviving family likely can proceed with a wrongful death claim instead. However, a wrongful death claim seeks recompense for the family’s losses, whereas a personal injury claim seeks recompense for the victim’s losses.
It’s difficult to determine an average wrongful death settlement in Texas due to the fact that every wrongful death settlement is entirely unique. In Texas, the deceased’s surviving spouse, parent, or child can start a wrongful death claim, followed by any other surviving kin or any party who can demonstrate that they were financially dependent on the deceased. If the deceased had a legally enforceable estate plan in place, the representative they named to handle their estate administration is typically first in line to file such a claim.
A wrongful death claim may be brought in response to any death caused by negligence, unskillfulness, default, or carelessness. It’s also possible to start a wrongful death case in response to a death caused by intentional misconduct, such as drunk driving or violent crime. In this case, the defendant will likely face criminal charges in the state along with the wrongful death suit filed by the victim’s family.
The best asset you can have on your side if you want to secure as much compensation as possible for a wrongful death claim is an experienced attorney. Your legal team will assist you in determining the avenues of compensation available to you and your family. You may recover compensation for losses the decedent’s estate incurred as well as those directly incurred by your family. For example, many wrongful death claims yield compensation for the lost financial support provided by the deceased, funeral and burial expenses, and compensation for the surviving family’s pain and suffering.
Other damages can also come into play depending on the specific details of the case. For example, if the defendant also damaged the victim’s property or business, property losses and lost business value could also factor into a wrongful death claim. The family may also recover compensation for investments that will no longer appreciate. If you want the best chance of securing the most compensation possible for a wrongful death claim, it’s vital to have legal counsel experienced with this type of civil case.
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years, starting with the death. The party bringing the wrongful death claim must file their claim within this time limit, or they lose the right to seek compensation from the party responsible for causing the death. If the cause of death cannot be immediately determined, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim will usually begin on the date the discovery of the cause of death is made.
Having legal counsel is one of the best ways to ensure maximum compensation for a wrongful death suit. When you have experienced legal representation advising you, you are far more likely to maximize the recovery you and your family obtain. In addition, a seasoned wrongful death attorney will help their client identify all the avenues of compensation available to them and streamline the legal proceedings necessary for recovering that compensation as swiftly as possible.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) thinks of wrongful death settlements as compensation for personal injury. This means your wrongful death settlement money is immune from taxation at the federal level. Additionally, Texas does not have a state income tax, and the state also does not tax wrongful death or personal injury settlements. If you have specific questions regarding tax implications for your wrongful death settlement, it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney.
When you have legal representation, and the defendant’s fault for causing the death is clear, it should not take long for you to reach a settlement. Your attorney can guide you through settlement negotiations and ensure your family receives a fair offer from the defendant. However, if you cannot settle your case and must go to trial, this could take several months or more to resolve.
It is technically possible to proceed with a wrongful death claim on your own, but you face many risks in doing so. Hiring legal counsel makes every aspect of your wrongful death claim easier to manage and more likely to generate the results you hope to see. In addition, your attorney can handle all the procedural requirements of your case on your behalf and uncover channels of compensation you may not have known were available to you.
The attorneys at Stevenson & Murray are ready to provide the compassionate legal representation you need for your impending wrongful death suit. We have guided many past clients through these challenging cases and know the greatest areas of concern for mourning family members facing wrongful death claim proceedings. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about the professional legal services we offer.
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