7 Questions You Need to Ask Your Wrongful Death Lawyer
When a loved one dies unexpectedly, it is natural for family members to have questions about what happened and how the tragedy could have been prevented. In situations where negligence is to blame for the death, surviving family members may be entitled to claim compensation for the immeasurable losses they have suffered. At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, our compassionate wrongful death lawyers meet with families in person to listen to their stories, explain their legal rights, and answer any questions they may have. We believe in educating families about what to expect throughout the legal process.
Some of the common questions we believe every family should ask their wrongful death lawyer include:
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
In Texas, immediate family members such as the deceased victim’s spouse, children, and parents may file a wrongful claim. Any of these family members may bring a wrongful death action on their own, or they could file a claim as a group on behalf of all of the survivors. If no immediate family member brings a claim within three months of the victim’s date of death, then the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. If you are the family member of a person who has died due to the negligent actions of another, it is important that you speak with a knowledgeable wrongful death attorney as soon as possible about your legal right to file a claim.
What Should I Do If an Insurance Company Approaches My Family with a Settlement?
Immediately after a wrongful death, the insurance company for the at-fault party may contact your family about a settlement. They may seem nice, and you may get the impression that you can handle your claim without legal representation. Unfortunately, these immediate settlement offers favor the insurance company, not your family. They are intended to get you to sign off on your legal rights for a minimal amount of money, and they do not take into account the full extent of the losses your family has suffered. Do not give a statement, sign any paperwork, or cash a check from an insurance company without talking to an attorney about your rights.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Suit?
It can seem impossible to place a dollar amount on the loss your family has suffered. Still, unexpected deaths do leave families with tremendous financial burdens that they should not be forced to bear. Some of the typical types of damages our wrongful death lawyers pursue include:
- Medical costs: In situations where a victim suffered a serious injury that eventually proved fatal, there may be extensive medical costs associated with the person’s treatment prior to death. Whether your loved one was taken to the emergency room and died shortly thereafter, or your loved one fought for their life for a long time before losing the battle, your family should be compensated for the medical expenses that were left behind.
- Funeral and burial expenses: Many families do not have the resources or are not financially prepared to cover the cost of their loved one’s funeral. Especially during this stressful time, you should not be forced to deal with these financial challenges. You can demand compensation to cover these expenses as part of your wrongful death claim.
- Lost earning capacity: If your family relied on income from your loved one, the loss can be especially devastating financially. You are entitled to seek damages to compensate you for the loss of this income.
- Loss of care and support: Although not typically measured in dollars and cents, there is a huge value to the love, care, support, and companionship that your loved one provided before being unfairly taken from you. A wrongful death claim can demand compensation for this type of loss.
- Mental anguish: After a devastating loss, you may struggle with mental anguish, emotional pain, anxiety, depression, and other conditions that take a toll on your emotional well-being. In a wrongful death claim, you can seek compensation for the mental anguish you have been put through.
- Loss of inheritance: Surviving family members may struggle from a lack of resources down the line due to the loss of inheritance related to a loved one’s death. You can seek compensation for this loss as part of a wrongful death claim.
- Punitive damages: In rare situations where malicious or reprehensible conduct was the cause of a family member’s death, you may be awarded punitive damages, which are intended to punish the at-fault party for their extreme misconduct.
Are Pain and Suffering Relating to a Wrongful Death Compensable?
In Texas, you may be able to pursue what is known as a “survival action,” which claims compensation for the losses your loved one suffered between the time of injury and the time of death. As part of a survival action, you could claim compensation for the pain and suffering your loved one endured prior to death.
Are Wrongful Death Damages Taxable?
When you receive a significant wrongful death settlement or court award, it is smart to take into consideration the tax implications. The IRS does not tax wrongful death damages that are considered “compensatory,” meaning the money is intended to compensate families for the losses they have suffered. However, there are situations where an award or settlement may be partly taxable, such as when a family is awarded punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.
You should talk to your Texas wrongful death attorney about the specifics of your settlement and how it could be impacted by taxes.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney?
The last thing you should be worried about when coping with the unfair loss of a loved one is whether you can afford to hire an attorney to help your family. The good news is: You do not have to worry. At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, we provide free initial consultations with no obligation to you. If we pursue a wrongful death claim for you, we do not charge any fees upfront or out of pocket. You only pay attorney fees if we win compensation for you, and then our fee comes as a percentage of your recovery.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
Many people wonder if the type of accident that led to their loved one’s death could be the basis for a wrongful death claim. Anytime a person dies due to the negligence of another individual, company, or government entity, family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
Some of the common types of wrongful death claims that our attorneys handle involve:
- Car accidents: There is no excuse for dangerous and deadly driving. Our team will launch an investigation into the crash that killed your loved one to determine who was at fault. We will then build a strong case for the maximum compensation your family deserves after a devastating loss.
- Truck accidents: These types of deadly accidents are more complex than typical passenger car accidents because they may involve multiple liable parties and a web of insurance policies. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys have a long track record of holding trucking companies accountable and demanding justice for families who have lost loved ones.
- Motorcycle accidents: These types of crashes often result in tragedy for families, and the loss can be more painful when insurance companies and the at-fault party try to shift the blame onto your loved one. We stand strong for motorcyclists’ families to fight for the fair compensation they need to get through this difficult time.
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents: When a motor vehicle slams into a pedestrian or bicyclist, the results are usually catastrophic. Our compassionate team works with surviving family members to manage all aspects of the wrongful death claims process, so you can focus on your family.
- Workplace accidents: Even in jobs that are considered dangerous, safety protocols should be followed to protect workers from unnecessary harm. Our dedicated attorneys can review the details of your loved one’s deadly workplace accident and identify all possible sources of compensation for your family.
- Accidents on dangerous property: Property owners have a duty to keep their premises safe for visitors. Our experienced attorneys work with families who have lost loved ones due to fatal slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, negligent security on a property, and other dangerous conditions.
- Dangerous or defective products: You should not have to worry about the safety of a product when you are using it as intended. However, many people are injured and killed each year due to dangerous and defective products. Our lawyers have extensive experience taking on deep-pocketed manufacturers and holding them accountable for the loss of life they have caused.
- Nursing home abuse and neglect: When you trust a nursing home to care for a vulnerable family member, a wrongful death can be shocking and disturbing. Our team has a long track record of investigating negligent nursing home facilities and demanding justice for victims of abuse and neglect.
Have More Questions? Contact Us Now
At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, our dedicated legal team is here to answer all of your questions and discuss the details of your specific case. If you have lost a family member and are ready to talk about your legal options for filing a wrongful death claim, please do not hesitate to reach out to us now.
Call (855) 981-9052 or contact us online to set up your free, no-obligation case consultation with one of our respected San Antonio wrongful death lawyers.