For residents of Dallas, the looming threat of a fatal injury is ever-present. On a given day, over three people in Dallas County will lose their lives due to a serious injury, making it the leading cause of death for Dallas County residents between the ages of 1 and 54.
Tragically, most of the accidents that lead to fatalities are preventable, caused by the negligence of a driver, employer or other responsible party.
The loss of a loved one leaves a void that will be never be filled. However, someone can still be held accountable when his or her negligence led to the death of another person. Surviving family members are left with crushing medical bills, funeral costs and deep emotional loss. At Guajardo & Marks, we believe that the responsible party should be required to pay for these expenses. Our Dallas wrongful death lawyers have fought for grieving families to seek justice and compensation stemming from the loss of a loved one.
Why you need an attorney experienced with wrongful death
Losing a loved one is always a traumatic experience. Working with an experienced wrongful death attorney is important for the following reasons:
- Criminal law is not enough: Not all negligence is a crime. Police will not usually arrest a doctor who commits malpractice that leads to death. Even if there was a crime committed, such as drunk driving, the prosecutor is trying to protect the general public, not compensate you for your losses.
- Protect your future: Some say a wrongful death lawsuit is a cynical cash grab. But for most people, the sudden loss of a loved one can be financially devastating. If the deceased was the major bread-winner in the home, the surviving family may not have the income to pay the mortgage and the rest of the bills. Medical and funeral bills also can cost tens of thousands of dollars. A wrongful death claim can provide compensation for your expenses as well as lost income and pain and suffering.
- Dealing with insurance companies: Insurance companies are experts at exploiting a grieving family’s financial desperation. Insurance companies may offer a low, quick settlement to avoid a lawsuit. A good wrongful death attorney knows how to handle insurance companies and get you a fair settlement.
- Time is short: There is a two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. Getting a fair settlement takes time, and your attorney will often need all of that time to get you what you deserve.
Fatal Injuries in Dallas
- Car Accident Fatalities – Every two and a half hours, a person is killed in a vehicle accident in Texas. In 2014, there were 142 fatal vehicle crashes in Dallas alone, and 1,678 fatal passenger car crashes statewide. Most car accidents are the result of driver error. This includes reckless driving (speeding, improper lane changes, failure to stop or yield properly, etc.), distracted driving, and drowsy or drunk driving.
- Truck Accident Fatalities – Large truck accidents led to 417 fatalities in Texas in 2014. There were also 26 fatalities resulting from commercial motor vehicle crashes in Dallas. Truck accidents can be caused by any number of factors, including speeding, distracted driving, impaired driving and driver fatigue.
- Vehicle Defects – A faulty vehicle part can have disastrous results for motorists. For example, defective/slick tires led to 66 deaths in Texas in 2014. Other possible defective vehicle parts include brakes, steering mechanisms, headlights, tail lights, turning signals, airbags and seatbelts.
- Rollover Accidents – Rollover crashes account for over a third of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths. Larger vehicle types, such as SUVs and pickup trucks, are much more likely to be involved in rollover accidents because they have a higher center of gravity. In 2014, there were 514 fatalities in overturned vehicle crashes in Texas.
- Construction Accidents – One in five workplace fatalities occurs in the construction sector. In 2012, Texas had more construction fatalities (105) than any other state. A 2014 article in the Dallas Morning News reported that Texas construction sites are 22 percent deadlier than the rest of the nation’s construction sites. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has dubbed the top four causes of construction fatalities as the “Fatal Four” – falls, electrocutions, struck by/against an object and caught in or between objects.
When is it Appropriate to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
Wrongful death lawsuits require family members to file a claim on behalf of the victim, but it isn’t always clear who is authorized to bring a wrongful death action after a loved one passes away. A Texas wrongful death lawyer will be able to determine which of the victim’s survivors is entitled to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for the victim’s death.
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Wrongful Death FAQ’s
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim or lawsuit is a civil action used to hold accountable those who were responsible for your loved one’s death. This is in addition to any criminal case that may be lodged, and these claims can be made against individuals, companies and even multiple parties.
Our wrongful death lawyers have decades of experience handling these types of cases and understand the difficulty surrounding them. Some families may even be hesitant about coming forward after the death of a loved one due to many factors. One thing to remember though is that a wrongful death claim can often be the only legal recourse for the family. It may be the only way those guilty are held accountable.
Why File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The reasons for seeking a wrongful death claim are often extremely personal for the families in each case. There are, however, a few common reasons victims file such a lawsuit.
- Accountability – Even if when it has been proven that a person’s or company’s actions, negligence or inaction caused a death, it’s not always considered a deliberate criminal act. This is one reason wrongful death claims are so important. For many families, it is the only avenue they have for achieving justice.
- Compensation – In addition to the tragic, emotional pain caused, the sudden death of a loved one can have lasting financial implications as well. A wrongful death claim seeks to secure compensation for the surviving loved ones. This can include loss of future earnings, pain and suffering and medical expenses.
- Future Safety – One of the main goals for our firm when handling a wrongful death claim is to ensure that your loved one didn’t die in vain. Wrongful death claims can force guilty parties to change their ways, making life safer for others. An example of this is a recent case in which we were able to force a hospital to completely overhaul the way they train the staff – hopefully preventing future deaths.
A significant, frequently overlooked benefit from these cases is that of gaining a better understanding of the events that led to a loved one’s death. The cause of death isn’t always apparent, and the investigation during a wrongful death lawsuit may be the only way a family can discover the truth. For some, this can be integral to their finding closure.
Featured Article: Many Causes for Wrongful Death
Death is an unfortunate part of life. Most people learn that at a very young age; it is a favorite theme of poets, singers, and directors, and it is unavoidable for all of us. But while all deaths are tragedies, perhaps the most painful are the unexpected deaths caused by others.
A wrongful death occurs when, because of negligence, inaction or malice of another party, an individual needlessly dies. Statistics show that in Dallas, Texas, more than three people die each day because of an accident.
Accidents happen every day, but when those accidents are avoidable, the fault lies with the individual who did not take the proper precautions. Many times, that person or party may be liable for the death if they are at least in part, if not completely, responsible for the accident that caused it...read more
What Kind of Compensation is Sought in Wrongful Death Claims?
The topic of compensation when discussing the death of a loved one can be a difficult and touchy subject. Our compassionate legal team understands this and will work hard to pursue the financial peace of mind you need and are entitled to while allowing your family the space needed to grieve and spend time together.
We also know the financial hardships a sudden death can have. Compensation in wrongful death cases seeks to ease these hardships and includes money for:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of income
- Loss of benefits
- Loss of companionship
- Pain and suffering.
It’s important to understand your rights to this compensation and to realize that it is in no way taking advantage of a tragic situation. If your loved one was killed by the negligent actions of a person or company, you are protected by the law — you shouldn’t be forced to face financial struggles on top of the emotional toll a death takes.
How much time do I have to file a claim?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Texas is two years. As with many other types of claims, it is generally best to begin the process as soon as possible in order to ensure the best outcome for a wrongful death claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Texas, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit if the wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness or default of one party caused the death of another. The surviving spouse, children and parents of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. Any of these individuals can file the claim on their own or they can file it as a group.
If the surviving spouse, children or parents do not file the wrongful death claim within 90 days of the date of death, the executor or personal representative of the person’s estate can file. In Texas, adult children can file a wrongful death lawsuit for the death of a parent.
Workplace Wrongful Death
If a loved one dies in a workplace accident in Texas, there are many laws that can apply:
- The Texas Labor Code
- The Wrongful Death Act
- Texas constitutional law
- Texas Supreme Court decisions
- The Civil Practices and Remedies Code.
Anyone who has had a loved one die in a workplace accident should consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Texas immediately. These cases are complicated, and it will take the experience of the skilled wrongful death lawyer to ensure you are justly compensated for your losses.
Difference Between Wrongful Death and Survival Action
Wrongful death and survival actions are different types of legal recourse for the negligence-related death of your loved one. The differences are as follows:
- Wrongful death claim: Open to surviving spouse, children and parents. This lawsuit recovers damages for the surviving family as a result of the death. Damages include medical bills, funeral costs, loss of the person’s love, guidance and financial support, etc.
- Survival action: Compensates the estate of the deceased for losses the person suffered before death. This can include pain and suffering, medical bills, lost earnings, and property damage expenses. Damages are similar to what the person may have gotten if the accident had not happened. Damages go to the estate and not to the surviving family.
In a wrongful death claim, you must prove the same elements of a personal injury lawsuit:
- Duty: Defendant owed the deceased a duty of care. In a drunk driving case that resulted in your loved one’s death, it can likely be shown that the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care to drive responsibly according to the laws of the road.
- Breach of duty: Evidence must be presented that the defendant breached his duty of care. For example, the drunk driver hit and killed your loved one in a crosswalk. His duty of care was breached because he was intoxicated above the legal limit while driving and did not stop for a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk.
- Proving causation: Plaintiff must prove the breach of duty caused harm to the deceased. For example, you must prove that it was the defendant’s car that hit and killed your loved one and not another car.
- Proving damages: Plaintiff must prove that the deceased suffered damages. In a wrongful death case, the obvious damages are that the person was killed.
Preparing for a funeral (burial/funeral expenses, and process)
Part of the typical compensation for a wrongful death claim is the out-of-pocket costs for funeral and burial costs. These costs can include the funeral or memorial service, picking up the body, preparing it for burial, casket, visitation hours, hearse or other vehicles, cemetery lot, cremation costs and tombstone. The total costs of a funeral and burial expenses can easily exceed $10,000.
Dallas Wrongful Death Lawyers
Wrongful death claims are complex and require the skill of an experienced wrongful death attorney. At Guajardo & Marks, we have represented many families seeking justice through wrongful death claims in Dallas and elsewhere in the state. See What Our Clients Say About Our Firm
We can evaluate your case to determine the best course of action, and you won’t pay us a cent unless we win your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.
A Review From Our Client
“Lauren was absolutely AMAZING! I was super scared dealing with any of the legal matters on my own, did some research and found Guajardo and Marks to have an amazing track record. When I went in to meet with Lauren I went in overwhelmed and tired, and she did everything to take that stress off of me and show that she was going to handle it. The end result was fantastic and I am so happy I went to them !!!“