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Mainstage v10 img 1 losing a loved one for any reason is painful, but it's especially traumatic when their death is the result of someone else's mistake. In your grief, you might feel helpless and uncertain about how to move forward. One way to begin processing your loss and hold the responsible party accountable is by filing a wrongful death claim. If a person's negligent, reckless, or harmful behavior directly caused the death of someone close to you, they're most likely liable for damages. However, it's important to act quickly for your claim to be successful.  

WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEYS

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WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYERS

Let Us Help You Honor Your Loved One’s Memory

Losing a loved one for any reason is painful, but it’s especially traumatic when their death is the result of someone else’s mistake. In your grief, you might feel helpless and uncertain about how to move forward. One way to begin processing your loss and hold the responsible party accountable is by filing a wrongful death claim. If a person’s negligent, reckless, or harmful behavior directly caused the death of someone close to you, they’re most likely liable for damages. However, it’s important to act quickly for your claim to be successful. 

It can be difficult to imagine taking on a legal battle in the weeks or months after your loved one’s death, but the longer you wait, the more challenging it can become to gather evidence of liability and build a strong case. The wrongful death attorneys at Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers can manage every aspect of your claim so you can focus on your recovery. Our firm provides legal counsel to wrongful death victims throughout Louisiana and Texas so you can seek fair compensation for your suffering in either state.  

What is a Wrongful Death?

Every untimely death is a tragedy, but not every loss falls under the legal category of a wrongful death. Your loved one’s passing must meet specific criteria to qualify for this kind of claim. 

Understanding Wrongful Actions

Each state has its own rules for classifying a wrongful death, but the basic premise is that a death is legally “wrongful” if it happens due to someone else’s actions. These different types of behavior could result in a wrongful death: 

  • Negligence: Failing to exercise proper caution or care is a core factor in wrongful death cases. 
  • Criminal conduct: A person can be liable if they cause another individual’s death while committing a crime, such as a burglary or carjacking. 
  • Intentional killing: There’s usually no question of liability if a person purposely takes someone else’s life. 

It’s important to note that someone can be liable for wrongful death even if they didn’t actively choose to cause harm. A significant number of victims in wrongful death claims lost their lives because someone wasn’t paying attention and caused a fatal accident. 

Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths

Deaths from accidental injuries are much more common than some people realize. More than 200,000 people died from unintentional injuries in the United States in 2020 due to incidents such as: 

Keep in mind that if your loved one was killed in a car accident, it doesn’t always mean that the other party is responsible. For instance, if both people were driving safely, but the roads were slick because of ice, the accident may not have been anyone’s fault. In addition, if the accident occurred because your loved one was exceeding the speed limit or driving while intoxicated, the other driver is not responsible for their injuries. 

The Difference Between Wrongful Death and Personal Injury Claims

Although they’re related, wrongful death and personal injury cases are separate legal processes. You can file a personal injury claim if you’re injured in an accident and another person is responsible. It only escalates to a wrongful death case if the injuries are so severe that they become fatal. One way to judge whether you have a wrongful death claim is to imagine what would have happened if your loved one had survived. If they would have filed a personal injury claim after the accident, then there’s a good chance that you have a legitimate wrongful death case. 

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Every wrongful death case is different, as are the rules for managing them, and some states use different standards for determining whether a person is legally permitted to file a claim. Determining whether you’re in a position to file is one of the first steps in establishing your claim. 

Only people with certain connections to the deceased can file a wrongful death claim. For instance, close friends who aren’t relatives generally don’t have the legal right to receive damages. These four parties are usually allowed to seek compensation for wrongful death: 

  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Estate administrators

The use of estate administrators is common throughout the country. Most states assign these administrators if there’s no viable party available to file a wrongful death claim. If your loved one passes away and there are no immediate family members who can claim damages, the court will probably choose someone to file a claim on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. 

Laws related to the right to file can differ significantly from state to state. For example, in some places, a parent who abandoned a minor child doesn’t have the right to file a wrongful death claim if that child later passes away. Before you move forward with your case, our attorneys can help you determine whether you’re entitled to damages related to your loved one’s death. 

Damages for Wrongful Death Cases

In addition to acknowledging their responsibility for your loved one’s death, the defendant in a wrongful death case should also provide you with compensation for your loss. Known as damages, this compensation helps reduce the financial burden you might experience when a family member is suddenly and unexpectedly taken from you. 

Types of Damages

  • Funneral and Burial Costs
    Many wrongful death claims include the cost of laying your loved one to rest.
  • Lost Future Income
    You may also receive compensation to make up for the income the deceased would have earned later in life if the accident hadn’t occurred.
  • Medical Expenses
    Many accident victims undergo medical treatment before their deaths, and you can include these costs in your wrongful death claim.

Determining how much money you should receive for non-economic damages is more challenging because they’re based on pain and suffering rather than expenses. Our attorneys can help you determine whether you’re eligible to receive damages for the physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering your deceased loved one endured in their final days. 

Texas and Louisiana have different laws defining what types of compensation you can win in a wrongful death case, making it difficult to know what to include in your claim. Our team thoroughly understands the laws in both states, so you can trust us to seek the maximum possible compensation no matter where you live.

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Calculating Wrongful Death Settlements

Many wrongful death claims conclude with substantial settlements or awards. Still, it’s impossible to predict the exact amount of damages you could receive without closely examining the specifics of your case. The compensation depends on several factors, including: 

  • Your loved one’s age
  • Their income and lost earning capacity 
  • The value of any lost benefits, such as health insurance or a retirement account
  • Their state of health before the accident 
  • The age and circumstances of any dependents 
  • The amount of expenses incurred due to their death 

The circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death are also crucial to determining what damages you should receive. For example, the limits on damages for a medical malpractice case often differ from those allowed in an automobile accident. 

Dividing Settlements

In some wrongful death cases, multiple people with connections to the deceased can file a claim. When that happens, the settlement is typically divided between the claimants based on their relationships with the deceased and the damages they’ve incurred. The division process might become more complicated if minor children are involved or if you expect one or more claimants to contest the settlement. On the other hand, if all the claimants agree to a fair division, the process will be much more straightforward. States have different laws in place that describe how settlements should be divided. Our firm can help you follow these steps and find a resolution that makes all claimants comfortable. 

Proving a Wrongful Death Claim 

Showing that another person was involved in an accident that resulted in your loved one’s passing isn’t enough to categorize it as a wrongful death. These types of claims center around the concept of duty of care. 

Understanding Duty of Care

In the eyes of the law, duty of care refers to a person’s responsibility to behave in a way that’s reasonable, safe, and responsible. For example, drivers assume a duty of care to pedestrians and other people on the road. Likewise, property owners are responsible for maintaining their property so that the conditions are safe for visitors. Doctors and other medical professionals must care for their patients in a way that won’t harm them, and manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe for customers to use. 

Breach of Duty 

When filing a wrongful death claim, you’ll have to prove not only that the defendant had a duty of care to the deceased but also that they violated that duty. For instance, if someone texts while driving, they’re behaving irresponsibly and violating their duty of care to other drivers. If the breach of duty results in someone’s death, they’re most likely liable for damages under a wrongful death claim. However, you can only file that claim if you can show that the death caused you to suffer damages. 

Wrongful Death Cases and Criminal Charges

A wrongful death claim is a civil matter, so you can hold a defendant liable even if they didn’t face criminal charges. These two types of cases also aren’t mutually exclusive. Many people who are convicted of killing others are also held accountable in civil court. If a person is found guilty of causing deadly harm to your loved one, you can use their conviction to support your wrongful death claim. 

How to File a Wrongful Death Claim

Some people are reluctant to seek justice for a wrongful death because they’re intimidated by the process. While it’s true that these cases are complicated, knowing what to expect can make you feel more confident about exercising your legal rights. 

Filing Your Claim

The elements of a wrongful death case differ based on state laws and the specifics of your case. However, the process typically includes these steps: 

Conduct An Investigation

To provide the defendant’s liability, you’ll need evidence showing their actions directly caused your loved one’s death. Your attorney will gather important materials, including medical documents, police reports, and expert analysis. 

File Paperwork

Submitting accurate and complete paperwork is essential to successfully filing a claim. Our knowledgeable attorneys will file all the necessary documents promptly.

Negotiate A Settlement

It may be possible to settle your claim outside court by negotiating with the defendant or their insurance company. We’ll communicate with the insurance company so they don’t try to manipulate you into accepting an inadequate settlement. 

Present The Case In Court

 If negotiations are unsuccessful, you can take your case to court and seek a favorable verdict. We’ll explain to the judge and jury why your claim is valid and what damages you should receive. 

Filing a wrongful death claim can be time-consuming and stressful, and failing to follow the correct procedures could result in the court dismissing your claim. That’s why it’s imperative that you have the support of a qualified attorney. 

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases

One of the most critical aspects of filing a wrongful death claim is submitting it within the statute of limitations. In Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident that caused your loved one’s death to file. Under Louisiana state law, on the other hand, you have only one year to file a wrongful death claim. 

There are exceptions that allow you to file a claim even after the statute of limitations has passed. If you feel you have a valid case but are concerned that it’s been too long, reach out to our firm. We can help you determine whether it’s still possible to seek damages. 

Do You Need an Attorney to File a Wrongful Death Claim? 

You can file a wrongful death claim without the assistance of an attorney, but doing so makes it much more difficult to reach a favorable verdict or settlement. Navigating the legal system can be overwhelming, particularly when working through intense emotions. An attorney serves as a vital source of support and guidance during your legal fight. 

When you contact our firm, one of our attorneys will review the details of your case to help you decide how to move forward. If you choose to file a claim, we’ll maintain regular communication with you so that you’re aware of where things stand. We’ll also address all your questions and concerns about the status of your claim, what steps you need to take, and how long the case might take. 

Paying for a Wrongful Death Attorney 

People who have valid wrongful death claims sometimes choose not to file them because they’re concerned that they don’t have enough money to pay for an attorney. Financial limitations shouldn’t prevent you from seeking justice for yourself or your family member who passed. Our firm makes legal assistance accessible to everyone by working on a contingency basis. This means that you don’t pay us anything upfront. Instead, we receive a percentage of your compensation if we successfully settle or litigate your case. 

Why You Should File a Wrongful Death Claim

No amount of money will take away the pain of losing someone close to you, but financial stability can give you the space and time you need to grieve. Rather than dealing with paying an overwhelming stack of bills, you can focus on processing the loss and seeking support from the people around you. For this reason alone, we strongly encourage anyone who has lost a loved one to an accident to explore their legal options. You may not realize how much a financial settlement or award could help to alleviate your stress and anxiety. 

Our Louisiana and Texas wrongful death attorneys are standing by to help you through this difficult time. You deserve financial compensation, and you can honor your loved one by seeking justice against those who ended their life far too soon. We strive to achieve both goals – and we have the experience and know-how to make that happen.

When you’re ready, call (844) 201-3500 and speak with the wrongful death lawyers of Morris & Dewett Injury Lawyers. Schedule a free consultation so we can take the first steps on the journey to justice and recovery. 

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