An Odessa wrongful death lawyer from Domingo Garcia can help you seek compensation from the at-fault party who caused your family member’s untimely death with their carelessness or recklessness. We understand that money can never take your loved one’s place. But holding the wrongdoer accountable for the tragic consequences of their conduct could bring some closure.
Also, your family could face financial hardship from the sudden loss of your close relative’s income or the services they contributed toward the family’s quality of life. As you grieve and work on rebuilding your life in Odessa, Texas, you can leave your legal matter to us.
Types of Accidents That Can Result in an Odessa Wrongful Death Case
Everyday accidents can form the basis of a wrongful death action in Texas if a person dies because of someone’s negligence or intentional act. Motor vehicle accidents cause many wrongful death actions in Texas. Fatal injuries can occur in collisions with motorcycles, cars, tractor trailers, pickup trucks, buses, watercraft, and aircraft.
Other situations that can result in fatal injuries from negligent conduct include:
- Slip and fall accidents. The person could hit the floor with great force, causing a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Also, complications from their injuries could have a lethal outcome for the victim.
- Pedestrians can suffer fatal injuries from defective or uneven walkways, uncovered manhole openings, or collisions with motor vehicles.
- Bicyclists can suffer fatal injuries when an inattentive driver of a car hits them or runs them off the road, forcing them into oncoming traffic or a fixed object on the side of the road. Also, a person opening the door of a parked car could strike a passing bicyclist.
- Injuries suffered when diving or jumping into a swimming pool can be fatal. Drowning is another lethal outcome that can happen at a swimming pool or any body of water.
- Some wrongful death actions arise out of medical malpractice situations. For example, an incorrect diagnosis or the failure to diagnose could cause a fatal outcome. Also, mistakes like surgical errors or prescribing the wrong medication or dosage could cause the loss of a patient’s life.
- Sometimes, healthcare professionals do not make the mistake that ends the life of the patient. Medical devices that have a dangerous design can harm a patient. Some prescription medications can have lethal side effects.
- Products with a design flaw or made incorrectly can create a hazard for users. For example, a home improvement power tool without the appropriate shields or other safety guards could cause severe or fatal injuries to a user or bystander. When a manufacturer knows about a product’s dangers but fails to warn the consumer, defective marketing could be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
These are but a few examples of the situations that can form the basis for a wrongful death action in Odessa, Texas. We can talk to you about possible legal action if someone else caused your close relative’s death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Odessa, Texas
Our wrongful death statute, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.004, says that the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the person who died can file a wrongful death lawsuit asking the court to award monetary damages. The administrator of the deceased person’s estate can bring the wrongful death lawsuit if none of the legal beneficiaries has done so within three months of the decedent’s death.
An exception to the executor or administrator being allowed to take legal action occurs when all the legal beneficiaries oppose the filing of a lawsuit. People who are not in the three named groups of those who can benefit from a wrongful death action cannot participate in the lawsuit or receive any of the proceeds. In other words, Texas law excludes people who are not related by blood or marriage.
The Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases in Texas
A law called the statute of limitations sets the deadline for filing lawsuits seeking compensation for the wrongful death of a close relative. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003, If you wish to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party whose negligence or intentional act caused the death of your loved one, you will need to do so within two years of the date of death.
The filing deadline affects cases in which people try to settle out of court instead of filing a lawsuit, as well as the situation in which people choose to litigate. If you miss the statute of limitations, you cannot file a lawsuit, which means that the responsible party has no legal obligation to pay you any money. The insurance company will not negotiate with you after the two years pass.
Please note that the clock starts to run with the date of death, not the date of the accident. Let’s say that your loved one suffered severe injuries during a mass shooting. They lingered in the hospital for several months before passing away. The deadline will start to run on the date that they died.
How You Can Afford to Hire an Odessa Wrongful Death Lawyer to Handle Your Claim
If you want to hire an attorney to represent you in a different kind of case, like a divorce, you usually need to come up with a large sum of money to pay a fee deposit to the lawyer. That is not how wrongful death lawsuits work. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these personal injury cases.
We will enter into a written fee agreement with you at the beginning of your wrongful death matter. We will work on the case without payment until the end. When the case settles, or there is a jury verdict, we will receive a portion of the proceeds. The fee contract will explain what percentage will apply so that you know what to expect. If you do not win, you do not owe us any legal fees.
Services We Perform for Our Wrongful Death Lawsuit Clients
Handling a wrongful death action involves countless tasks that can put unnecessary stress on you. When a close relative dies, you must deal with many things already. Stacking a legal claim on top of taking care of the funeral and burial arrangements, life insurance, notification to Social Security, and figuring out how to manage from day to day without your loved one could be too much for some people to bear.
Rather than procrastinate on dealing with the wrongful death legal issues or giving up entirely on your case against the party whose actions cost your loved one their life, you can let us handle the wrongful death action for you. You can then focus on your family’s needs and your own well-being.
We Can Manage Your Entire Wrongful Death Case
If you try to handle the wrongful death case on your own as a DIY project, you will have to do the following things for yourself. When we are on the case, we can take care of these things for you:
- Keep track of the statute of limitations that applies in your case.
- Notify the defendant’s liability insurance company that it should send all communications to us, not to you. After that point, neither the defendant nor their insurer is supposed to contact you directly.
- Keep you updated on communications we receive from the opposing side and other case developments.
- Respond on your behalf to the insurance company’s emails, letters, phone calls, and other communications.
- Investigate the situation that caused the wrongful death. We want to make sure that we find all the grounds for liability and all parties who might be responsible.
- We will talk with you when we receive an offer of settlement in your case, and we will respond directly to the insurer for you.
- Early in the case, we will prepare and send a demand letter to the defendant’s insurance company. In this letter, we notify them of your claim, state the reasons that they are liable, and tell them the amount of money we feel your claim is worth.
- If the insurance company responds to the demand letter with a counteroffer, we will let you know about this and discuss an appropriate response. With your approval, we will respond with our own counteroffer or another reply.
- Negotiating with massive insurance companies can be intimidating for many individuals, but we handle this task for you. Insurance companies’ hardball tactics do not deter us. We understand how they play the game.
- It can be challenging to speculate on the dollar amount you should ask for in a wrongful death case. Placing a monetary value on the life of your loved one can be an emotional process, particularly if you do not have hard data. We have access to jury verdict information that can help us determine, based on cases similar to yours, the likely outcome of your wrongful death claim.
- An insurance company could move slowly when processing your claim. It has two financial incentives for doing so. First, it wants to hold onto its money as long as possible. Second, if its representatives can trick you into missing the statute of limitations, your claim could cease to exist. We will keep the pressure on them to move forward on your claim and, if appropriate, file a lawsuit.
- Filing a lawsuit stops the statute of limitations issue and protects your right to compensation. We can still negotiate with the insurance company after filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
- In a wrongful death action, the insurance company might insist upon receiving stacks of documents and other evidence. We can provide this evidence directly to the insurer on your behalf.
- Wrongful death actions involve many legal documents that must be signed. We can review these before you sign them and insist on appropriate changes. If your case settles, we will review the settlement documents to ensure you do not give up more than you should in exchange for the settlement check.
- Once we file a lawsuit, we will handle the trial preparation work, draft and file motions, appear and argue at hearings, prepare exhibits, devise a trial strategy, and all other preparations necessary for trial.
By placing your wrongful death action in our hands, you can save yourself a mountain of work and stress. We treat our clients with compassion and dignity and protect their rights. We know you are grieving and feeling a wave of emotions. We work hard to give you the time and space you need and help you recover compensation that can help you rebuild your future.
What Happens When Your Close Relative Dies Because of a Criminal Act
You might not realize you have a right to take legal action against someone whose criminal activity caused the wrongful death of your loved one in Odessa. Whether the prosecuting attorney files criminal charges or not, the actions of the defendant constituted a civil wrong for which you can take action.
If the criminal case ends in a plea bargain or even a not guilty verdict, those facts will not preclude you from filing a civil wrongful death action. It can, however, help your civil wrongful death case if the defendant gets convicted of the crime that led to your injury.
The criminal case does not deal with the economic harm that your loved one’s wrongful death caused your family. The only way for you to go after the compensation that you deserve is to proceed with a civil wrongful death case.
Kinds of Compensation That Can Be Available in an Odessa Wrongful Death Action
There is no automatic or flat rate amount of compensation that gets awarded in wrongful death actions in Texas. The actual damages can be an amount consistent with the losses the wrongful death causes. For example, the amount of compensation appropriate for the loss of the decedent’s income will depend on how much money the deceased individual made and their life expectancy.
A person who made $30,000 a year will not have as much lost income as a person who made $150,000 a year. Also, when the wrongful death victim was 25 years old, they will have a much longer life expectancy than a person who died at the age of 70 because of someone else’s wrongful act.
Other actual damages in wrongful death cases can include:
- The medical bills incurred to treat the injuries from the accident or intentional act that resulted in the death.
- The decedent’s end-of-life care expenses, such as hospice or skilled nursing facility costs.
- The funeral and burial expense
The pain and suffering the person experienced from the moment of the accident until they died can be recoverable. Also, the beneficiaries can make a claim for money damages for items like these:
- Their emotional distress at the untimely loss of their loved one.
- Loss of parental guidance from the deceased individual.
- Loss of consortium with the decedent.
Punitive damages can be available in cases when the death was caused by an intentional act, malice, or gross negligence.
Texas Caps Medical Malpractice Damages at $500,000
Texas law limits the amount of recovery a person could receive if medical malpractice caused a close relative’s death. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 74.303 makes $500,000 the maximum amount of compensation the family can receive if their loved one died because of medical malpractice.
No matter how high the medical bills, lost income, and other losses are, the cap is still $500,000 total, with an annual adjustment of this limit for inflation. In essence, it is possible for the family to receive no compensation after the medical bills get paid in a case involving sky-high medical expenses from the malpractice.
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 41.008 provides a formula that can reduce a jury verdict of punitive damages when a death involved gross negligence or an intentional wrong. The formula is a bit complicated and involves factors like two times the amount the jury awarded for economic damages plus the amount they awarded in noneconomic damages. An Odessa wrongful death lawyer with our firm can explain how the punitive damages cap would work in your situation.
Texas Law on Wrongful Death Cases
Not every accident that ends in a fatality warrants a wrongful death action in Texas. Sometimes, accidents happen without someone else’s negligence being the reason. If the decedent’s error caused their fatal injuries, their surviving relatives likely will not be able to file a wrongful death action against someone else.
Texas law requires two essential components to qualify for a wrongful death action. One, the wrongful act, whether accidental or intentional, must have been preventable. Two, the person who died must have had a legal right to pursue a personal injury case against the defendant if they had survived their injuries.
What Our Odessa Attorney Must Prove in a Wrongful Death Case
When wrongful death happens because of negligence, like a car accident, a slip and fall accident, or some other mistake that caused fatal injuries to another person, our Odessa injury lawyer must prove every one of the following elements:
- The defendant must have had a legal duty. Let’s use the scenario of a grocery store. The store had a duty to maintain the aisles in a safe condition, which included promptly cleaning up spills or leaks to prevent slip and fall accidents.
- The defendant must have failed to fulfill their legal duty. The refrigerated section of the grocery store that contained perishable dairy items had condensation leaking onto the floor. The manager knew about the puddles but did not block off the area or clean up the liquid.
- The careless act must be what caused the accident that injured the decedent. An elderly shopper lost her footing when she slipped in a puddle.
- Quantifiable Losses. The shopper fell, striking her head with great force on the floor. She lost her life later that day because of bleeding in the brain from the trauma.
This fact pattern meets all four requirements for negligence in a wrongful death claim in Texas.
Wrongful Death Settlements We Have Recovered for Our Clients
We go to bat for our wrongful death clients and work hard to get them the money they deserve. Some of the wrongful death settlements we have won for our clients include:
- $1 million in settlement of a fatal truck accident claim
- The family of a person who died in an accident at work won a $3 million settlement
- $1,250,000 settlement for a person who suffered fatal injuries because of a lack of fall protection
You can talk to an Odessa wrongful death attorney about your claim for the loss of your loved one.
Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death in Odessa
If wrongful death happened because of someone else’s negligence, the person or entity that exhibited carelessness can get sued for the loss of your family member.
For example, all the following could be defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- The drunk driver who caused a fatal collision
- The pharmacist who filled the prescription with the wrong drug
- The corporation that made a dangerous product
- The property owner who failed to properly address a known hazard on the premises
When an assault, attack, shooting, armed robbery, or another criminal act takes someone’s life, the person or persons who committed the crime can face criminal prosecution and a civil wrongful death action. Also, the owner of an Odessa property where a crime occurs could face a wrongful death lawsuit if negligent security played a factor in the crime or the death.
Get Started Today On an Odessa Wrongful Death Lawsuit
You can reach out to our Odessa wrongful death attorney at Domingo Garcia today to talk to someone about your case. We do not charge for the initial consultation, and there is no obligation to work with us.
We will fight for the compensation appropriate under the circumstances and treat you and your family with the compassion and dignity you deserve. We are proud to have bilingual members on our team to better serve our Spanish-speaking clients. We are ready to start working for you, so call now.