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Fort Worth Wrongful Death Lawyer

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What is Wrongful Death?

When the negligence of a person or entity causes the death of another person, surviving loved ones can take legal action, filing a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death claim is brought by the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, and parents for their losses stemming from the death. A survival claim is essentially the personal injury claim that survives the individual’s death and compensates the estate for damages the decedent would have been able to recover had he survived. The burden of proof lies with the plaintiff to show the following in  lawsuit utilizing a Fort Worth wrongful death lawyer:

  • A duty of care existed. This means the defendant had a duty of care regarding the well-being of the decedent. As an example, drivers have a duty of care to other drivers to follow all traffic laws and rules, and to drive carefully and safely.
  • The defendant breached the duty of care by acting irresponsibly or carelessly.
  • Not only was the duty of care breached, but that breach was responsible for the victim’s death.
  • The breach of duty led to measurable damages for the family members of the decedent. Measurable damages include survivors who are left in financial ruin due to the death of the family’s primary provider.

Intentional wrongful deaths generally occur when acts of violence take place—i.e., a robbery leads to the death of a person. During such a difficult time, it can be extremely beneficial to speak to an experienced Fort Worth wrongful death attorney from Noteboom—The Law Firm. Our attorneys will immediately contact the insurance company of the defendant so they will deal with us directly.

We will file a lawsuit on your behalf and begin the process, skillfully negotiating a fair settlement, or aggressively litigating your claim in court. We will thoroughly answer your questions, ensuring you understand what to expect from the process. We are proud of our track record regarding wrongful death claims. This is why we tell potential clients if they can find another firm with more impressive credentials, they should hire them.

FAQ: What Are Some Common Issues in A Texas Wrongful Death Case?

What Are Some of the Situations That Can Result in a Wrongful Death?

Just as auto accidents are the primary cause of personal injury claims, they are also one of the top situations that can result in a wrongful death claim. Auto accidents include car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents. Other types of wrongful death claims include the following:

  • Medical malpractice—when a medical professional fails to act in the same manner another medical professional would have done given the same circumstances, wrongful death may occur.
  • Dangerous or defective products—Many wrongful deaths are caused by consumer products that are poorly or defectively designed, manufactured, distributed, or sold. Those who design, manufacture, distribute and sell consumer products must ensure they are safe for use—particularly when it involves products marketed for babies or children.
  • Work-related accidents—Injuries at work can result in wrongful death, particularly on construction sites, or workplaces that use machinery or heavy equipment. Illnesses that result from an unsafe work environment can also be responsible for wrongful death.
  • Criminal acts—When a life ends due to the malice of another during a criminal act, a wrongful death claim may be filed.

Who Can File a Fort Worth Wrongful Death Claim?

Each state determines who can file a wrongful death claim. In the state of Texas, the following people can file a wrongful death claim:

  • A surviving child of the decedent, including a legally adopted child
  • The surviving spouse of the decedent
  • A surviving parent—including an adoptive parent—of the decedent
  • The personal representative of the decedent’s estate
  • A parent can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a minor child

In the state of Texas, family members can specifically request that a wrongful death claim not be filed. If qualified family members do not make such a request—and do not file their own claim within three months of the death—the right to file such a claim goes to the representative of the decedent’s estate. Any compensation, however, still goes to family members or heirs of the decedent or becomes a part of the decedent’s estate.

The statute of limitations in the state of Texas for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the time of the death, barring certain unusual circumstances. The damages that can be claimed in a Fort Worth wrongful death may include the following:

  • Lost household support for surviving family members
  • Funeral expenses
  • Loss of love, comfort, care, and counsel
  • Inheritance loss
  • Loss of guidance for children of the decease
  • Spousal loss of companionship
  • Pain, suffering, emotional anguish, and mental anguish
  • Loss of income the decedent brought into the home, particularly if the decedent was the primary wage-earner
  • Punitive damages – designed to punish the at-fault party and deter others from doing the same

How Long Can a Fort Worth Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

The length of time your Fort Worth wrongful death claim takes could vary greatly, depending on the circumstances and facts surrounding your claim. If liability is clear, it should not take as long to reach a settlement. If liability is not clear, you can expect the insurance company to aggressively defend the case. This means your attorney from Noteboom—The Law Firm, will work to prove liability through the use of highly experienced attorneys, an in-house investigator, and scores of expert witnesses who will help build your case.

Once liability has been clearly shown, the length of time will vary according to the complexity of the claim. Generally speaking, a wrongful death claim can reach a settlement in six months or so if it does not go to court. Wrongful death claims that go to court can take much longer, even a year or more. Even if your wrongful death claim is slated for a trial, it could still settle at any time up until the jury or judge reaches a verdict.

The vast majority of claims do settle outside of a trial, so it is highly likely that yours will as well. Whether your attorney negotiates a wrongful death settlement, or the amount is determined by a judge or jury, you should receive your settlement check within approximately six weeks. Having a knowledgeable attorney from Noteboom—The Law Firm ensures your wrongful death claim will be handled professionally to achieve a positive outcome.

Can a Wrongful Death Suit Be Divided, and if so, How?

As noted above, those who can file a wrongful death claim include the decedent’s surviving child, children, or legally adopted child, the surviving spouse, a surviving parent, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, or a parent, filing the claim on behalf of a minor child. Once a wrongful death claim is settled, the issue of how the settlement is divided among the claimants may arise. Since a single decedent can leave behind many surviving family members, dividing the settlement can potentially be a contentious matter. Not every claimant is entitled to receive the same level of compensation.

As an example, suppose a husband and wife are separated at the time of the husband’s death. While the wife still legally has a claim under Texas law, it would not be fair for her to receive more than the husband’s two children—whom he was very close to at the time of his death. If the wrongful death settlement is decided on by a jury, that same jury will determine how the proceeds are divided among the decedent’s loved ones. A wrongful death claim that settles out of court may require assistance from your attorneys who can divide the proceeds based on past legal precedents in similar cases.

When making these decisions, the division will be determined based on whether there are minor children involved, whether those involved can agree on a fair division of compensation, whether all beneficiaries are adults, or whether there is dissension associated with the division. When there are minor children who are beneficiaries of a wrongful death claim, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem who is the court-appointed representative of the child or children.

A guardian ad litem makes sure the child’s rights are properly represented. When there are children involved, the court always has the final say over how the wrongful death benefits will be distributed. If there are no children involved, the adults may be allowed to make a case for why they deserve a larger share of the wrongful death settlement, and a judge will again, make the final determination. If you are involved in a wrongful death claim where there are multiple beneficiaries, you could benefit from speaking to a Fort Worth wrongful death lawyer from Noteboom—The Law Firm.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Fort Worth Wrongful Death Claim?

Statutes of limitations are windows of time each state sets for beneficiaries to file a wrongful death claim or other type of personal injury claim. In the state of Texas, you have two years from the date of the decedent’s death, although there may be certain exceptions. The wrongful death statute of limitations begins to run on the date your legal cause of action began. In wrongful death claims, this is almost always the date of the death, not the date the accident that caused the death occurred. Under certain circumstances, the statute of limitations can be tolled, or delayed. These circumstances may include:

  • The involvement of a minor child—when a minor loses his or her parent, they can delay the statute of limitations until they turn 18, at which time they have two years to file the wrongful death claim. This is assuming another parent or guardian did not pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of the minor child at the time of the death.
  • You were unaware that another’s negligence was responsible for the death of your loved one. If the negligence was not apparent, then the statute will only begin to run once you knew of the negligence—or reasonably should have known.
  • There was fraud involved in concealing the negligence that caused the death of your loved one. If evidence and facts were deliberately covered up, and you could not have reasonably known about this concealment or fraud, you have two years from the time the fraud is discovered to file a wrongful death claim.
  • You had a mental or physical incapacitation at the time of the death of your loved one. If this is the case, the statute of limitations does not begin until you are deemed physically and mentally competent.

The state of Texas also has a wrongful death statute of repose, which is considered the “ultimate” deadline for filing your wrongful death claim, regardless of the circumstances. The statute of repose is ten years. Speak to a knowledgeable Fort Worth wrongful death lawyer to answer all your questions regarding a wrongful death statute of limitations.

What Damages are Available in a Fort Worth Wrongful Death Claim?

When you file a wrongful death claim in the state of Texas, you can typically recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that can be easily quantified—those that have a specific financial number attached to them. Non-economic damages are often more difficult to calculate since they are less tangible and more subjective. The economic damages you may be entitled to receive include:

  • Financial contributions as they pertain to the financial support the decedent would have provided to his or her beneficiaries had they lived.
  • Any estimated benefits or gifts the beneficiaries would have received from the decedent.
  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • A monetary value associated with the household chores and tasks the decedent would have performed had he or she lived.

Non-economic damages are meant to compensate loved ones for the emotional harm of losing a loved one as a result of another’s negligence or wrongful actions. You may be eligible for the following non-economic damages:

  • For a spouse, loss of sexual relations (loss of consortium)
  • Loss of the affection, company, protection, assistance, care, and emotional support from the decedent
  • For children, loss of care, guidance, and training from their deceased parent
  • If the decedent suffered severe pain or disfigurement prior to his or her death, then this could be part of the survival claim settlement.

The court will consider your relationship with the decedent as well as the sadness and emotional distress regarding the loss of your loved one. The court will also consider the life expectancy of the decedent, as well as the decedent’s age, health, habits, activities, lifestyle, and job description. The amount of the wrongful death claim may also hinge on the insurance policy limits of the at-fault party—if the person has no personal assets, then asking for anything above the policy limits would likely not result in a larger settlement. The cause of your loved one’s death could also have a bearing on the wrongful death settlement amount. If his or her death was the result of an intentionally harmful act. The settlement might be larger.

How a Fort Worth Wrongful Death Lawyer Near You Can Help: Contact Noteboom.

The Noteboom attorneys have been helping people just like you since 1977. When you hire a Fort Worth wrongful death lawyer from Noteboom, you have taken the most important step you can take in receiving an equitable wrongful death settlement. Of course, no amount of money can bring back your loved one. We will take the burden of filing a wrongful death claim from your shoulders, allowing you time to deal with your loss.

The Noteboom legal team takes a collaborative approach to wrongful death claims—an approach that consistently yields favorable results for our clients. You simply don’t want to leave your financial future to an inexperienced attorney following your tragic loss. Our firm has the ability to front all the necessary expenses while fighting for your future. Contact Noteboom—The Law Firm today for highly-skilled legal representation for wrongful death claims.

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