The sudden death of a loved one can turn your life upside down. We know because we have represented clients with wrongful death claims on numerous occasions in McAllen, Texas.
The grief and the shock are just the beginning. If the accident was caused by someone else, your outrage is likely to grow day by day. Unfortunately, it is impossible to undo a fatal accident. No amount of money can compensate for the loss of your loved one. A McAllen wrongful death lawyer from The Law Office of Lino H. Ochoa is here to help you during this difficult time.
If you have lost a loved one in a tragic accident in McAllen, TX, our legal team is here for your family. Our track record shows that we will fight hard to ensure you do. Over the years, we have recovered over $1 billion in compensation for our clients.
How The Law Office of Lino H. Ochoa Can Help with Your McAllen, TX Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Our McAllen wrongful death lawyers can help you in the following ways, among others:
- Apply our knowledge of the nuances of Texas wrongful death law to the facts of your case
- Offer emotional support to grieving family members throughout the process
- Conduct a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the victim’s death
- Identify parties who might bear liability for the death
- Seek punitive damages if gross negligence or intentional misconduct played a role in the death
- Calculate damages
- Negotiate with the defendant or insurance company and fight for compensation
- Handle paperwork and comply with deadlines
Our McAllen wrongful lawyers at The Law Office of Lino H. Ochoa can help you obtain just financial compensation during your time of need.
What Is Wrongful Death?
The Texas Wrongful Death Act authorizes and governs Texas wrongful death claims. “Wrongful death” is a legal term that refers to the death of someone as a consequence of negligent, reckless, or intentional misconduct by someone else. Wrongful death even applies to no-fault claims such as product liability, where a defective product results in death.
The Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim can be based on negligence (a truck accident), intentional misconduct (a murder), or even no-fault liability (product liability). The key factor in generating a wrongful death claim is that one party is liable for the financial consequences of the death of another.
Negligence is by far the most common basis for a wrongful death claim.
To establish wrongful death based on negligence, you must prove the following legal elements:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care;
- The defendant breached their duty of care to the victim;
- The victim died;
- The defendant’s breach of duty (negligence) was the cause of the victim’s death; and
- Given the fact of the defendant’s negligence, a reasonable person could have foreseen the victim’s death.
Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. The compensation that your family is entitled to may be reduced if the victim’s negligence contributed to the accident. A court may assign a percentage of fault to each party. When this occurs, the awarded damages will be reduced in proportion to the victim’s amount of fault.
A survival action is a close companion of a wrongful death claim, as it typically arises from the same course of events. Imagine a fatal truck accident, for example. A wrongful death claim offers compensation to the victim’s surviving family members due to their own losses arising from the death (emotional distress, for example).
A survival action, by contrast, offers compensation for the victim’s injuries between the time of the accident and the time of death. Damages in a survival action consist of any compensation the deceased victim could have collected if they had survived the accident (medical expenses, pain and suffering, etc.).
How a Wrongful Death Claim is Different From a Homicide Claim
The following are some of the main differences between a homicide prosecution and a wrongful death lawsuit or claim:
- A wrongful death claim is civil, while homicide prosecutions are criminal.
- In a homicide prosecution, defendants can go to prison if they lose. In a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, money is at stake.
- Homicide prosecutions require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
- To win a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove liability by a’ “preponderance of the evidence”. This typically means that evidence shows it is “more likely than not.”
- You can still win a wrongful death lawsuit even if the defendant won an acquittal in criminal court. This is due to the disparity between the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard and the “preponderance of the evidence” standard.
You don’t have to wait until the conclusion of criminal proceedings to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Files a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in McAllen, TX?
The victim of wrongful death cannot file a lawsuit. So, who can? In Texas, surviving family members (children, parents, or spouse) may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Any of them or all of them may file, and a court will distribute the damages. If none of these parties file the claim within three months of the victim’s death, only then may the estate executor file the wrongful death claim.
An adopted child is eligible for the wrongful death damages of their adoptive parents. Adult children are also eligible for damages from their biological parents.
Texas treats the death of an unborn child the same way it treats the death of any other child. The child’s family can recover damages. Some damages, such as lost financial support, will not be applicable.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in McAllen, TX?
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit go directly to the victim’s surviving relatives.
Typical damages in a wrongful death lawsuit consist of:
- Lost financial support
- Lost savings and inheritance
- Lost household income
- The value of lost household services (if the victim was a homemaker, for example)
- Survivors’ emotional distress
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of advice and support
- Loss of services and maintenance.
Survivors do not necessarily qualify for all of these types of damages. The available damages will partly depend on the relationship with the deceased.
Texas typically does not cap damages in wrongful death claims. Plaintiffs can receive as much in damages as the court will allow for their case.
Survivors can demand and receive punitive damages in a wrongful death claim just as they could have in a personal injury claim in McAllen, TX. Courts award punitive damages, if at all, only if you submit “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant acted with gross negligence, malice, or fraud. A homicide might qualify for punitive damages, for example. Punitive damages are not necessarily available even to a victorious plaintiff, as courts are usually reluctant to award them.
What is the Statute of Limitations Deadline for a Texas Wrongful Death Claim?
In Texas, you must file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the victim’s date of death. Note the distinction with the personal injury statute of limitations, which is two years after the date that the victim suffered their injury. Limited exceptions may apply for filing a wrongful death claim in Texas.
If you fail to file a wrongful death lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, you will be unable to recover damages for your family’s loss.
Contact a McAllen Wrongful Death Attorney For a Free Consultation
If you have tragically lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence in McAllen, Texas, we are here for you. Contact us 24/7 at (956) 815-0055 to schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with our McAllen wrongful Death attorney. We serve Hidalgo County and its surrounding areas.
Our personal injury law firm in McAllen, TX also handles:
- McAllen Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers
- McAllen Bicycle Accident Lawyer
- Brain Injury Lawyers in McAllen, TX
- Bus Accident Lawyers in McAllen, TX
- McAllen Car Accident Attorneys
- Construction Accidents Attorneys in McAllen, TX
- McAllen Dog Bite Lawyers
- McAllen Medical Malpractice Lawyers
- McAllen Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
- Pedestrian Accident Lawyers in McAllen, TX
- Premises Liability Attorneys in McAllen, TX
- Product Liability Lawyers in McAllen, TX
- McAllen Slip and Fall Lawyers
- McAllen Truck Accident Attorneys
- Uber Accident Lawyers in McAllen, TX
- Wrongful Death Lawyer in McAllen, TX
Visit Our Personal Injury Law Office in McAllen, TX
The Law Office of Lino H. Ochoa
6316 N 10th St Building D, Suite 102
McAllen, Texas, 78504
Hours: Monday to Friday,
from 9 am – 5 pm
Highly Rated Funeral Services In McAllen
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