Wrongful Death Lawyers
Wrongful Death Attorney
Dallas Wrongful Death Lawyer
First and foremost, wrongful death attorneys have to understand exactly what the surviving spouse, child or parent is going through on an emotional level. It is very important that you choose a wrongful death lawyer who will be able to help you overcome the difficult times ahead by giving you sound legal advice with regard to the death of your loved one and the possible monetary recovery that may be available to you if the death was due to the negligence or gross misconduct of another person or company. Because these cases center on issues such as life expectancy, long-term financial gain through employment and the loss of companionship, it is imperative that your wrongful death lawyer be able to paint a picture of the life of the individual who has passed. That picture must be drawn in a way that relays the real loss felt by everyone who loved the deceased. The loss must establish that the people that were left behind are most certainly entitled to financial compensation due to the negligent acts of another person or entity. Finally, if a monetary settlement offer is made, it must be reasonable to the surviving spouse, child, or parent so that they can attempt to move forward with the broken pieces left behind.
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?
To prove an action for wrongful death, the plaintiff must establish they are a statutory beneficiary of the one who died as a result of a wrongful death. If no statutory beneficiary files suit, the plaintiff can be the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate. In basic terms, the plaintiff must be a spouse, child, or parent of the decedent. There are also very specific rules related to informal marriages, adopted children and children who’s status as “biological children” is in dispute. Make sure you consult with a wrongful death lawyer if one of these issues applies to your wrongful death case.
Defendant Must Be A Person In Wrongful Death Cases
To prove an action for wrongful death, the plaintiff must establish the defendant is a person as defined by the Wrongful Death Act. The Wrongful Death Act defines a person as an individual, association of individuals, joint-stock company, or corporation, or as a trustee or receiver of any of those parties. Even though municipal corporations are included in the definition of a person, some courts have held that the Wrongful Death Act does not waive governmental immunity for municipalities.
How To Prove A Wrongful Death Occured
A defendant can be held liable for the decedent’s death if the death was caused by the defendant’s (or its agent’s or servant’s) wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. In most wrongful–death suits, this liability is established by proving the elements of a claim for negligence, intentional tort, premises liability, or products liability. For example, if the liability is based on negligence, the plaintiff must prove (1) the defendant owed the decedent a duty, (2) the defendant breached that duty, and (3) the breach proximately caused the decedent’s death. For example, if the defendant’s liability is based on negligence, the standard of proof for causation is whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, (1) the negligent act or omission is shown to be a substantial factor in bringing about the harm, and (2) the harm would not have occurred without the negligent act or omission.
Damages That Can Be Recovered For Wrongful Death Causes Of Action
- Actual Damages. In a wrongful–death action, the plaintiff can recover the actual damages they suffered. There are four basic types of damages recoverable in a wrongful–death action: (1) pecuniary losses, (2) mental anguish, (3) loss of companionship and society, and (4) loss of inheritance.
- Pecuniary Losses. Pecuniary losses are defined as the loss of the decedent’s earning capacity, advice, counsel, services, care, maintenance, and support. Pecuniary losses may also include certain expenses incurred by the plaintiff, such as psychological treatment or funeral expenses.
- Loss of Advice & Counsel. The plaintiff can recover damages for loss of “advice and counsel,” which includes the pecuniary value of professional recommendations and personal guidance the decedent might have rendered to the plaintiff if the decedent had survived.
- Loss of Services. The plaintiff can recover damages for loss of services. Appropriate evidence should be offered to prove the value of the services lost, but the jury is given wide discretion.
- Spouse’s Services. A spouse can recover damages for the loss of the deceased spouse’s services, including household and domestic services.
- Parent’s Services. A child can recover damages for the loss of the deceased parent’s services. A child’s damages for loss of a parent’s services include the monetary value of nurture, care, education, and guidance.
- Child’s Services. A parent can recover damages for the loss of the deceased child’s services from the time of the child’s death until the child would have reached the age of majority (less the cost of the child’s care, support, education, and maintenance), and any contributions that might reasonably have been expected from the child after reaching majority.
- Expenses for Psychological Treatment. The plaintiff can recover pecuniary damages for the reasonable and necessary expenses to treat the plaintiff’s emotional trauma.
- Funeral Expenses. Funeral expenses, which are debts of the decedent’s estate, are generally not recoverable under the Wrongful Death Act but are recoverable under the Survival Statute. When funeral expenses are recoverable, the plaintiff must prove the amount of the expenses and that the expenses were reasonable.
- Mental Anguish. The plaintiff can recover damages for mental anguish in a wrongful–death action. Before awarding damages for mental anguish in a wrongful–death case, the trier of fact should consider the following: (1) the relationship between the plaintiff and the decedent, (2) the living arrangements of the plaintiff and the decedent, (3) the extended separations of the decedent from the plaintiff, (4) the harmony of their family relations, and (5) their common interests and activities.
- Loss of Companionship & Society. The plaintiff can recover damages for loss of companionship and society in a wrongful–death action. Before awarding damages for loss of companionship and society in a wrongful–death case, the trier of fact should consider the following: (1) the relationship between the plaintiff and the decedent, (2) the living arrangements of the plaintiff and the decedent, (3) extended separations of the decedent from the plaintiff, (4) the harmony of their family relations, and (5) their common interests and activities.
- Loss of Inheritance. The plaintiff can recover damages for loss of inheritance in a wrongful–death action. Loss of inheritance is defined as the present value that the decedent would, in reasonable probability, have added to the estate and left at natural death to the statutory wrongful–death beneficiaries but for the wrongful act causing the premature death. The plaintiff must offer proof of what the decedent’s total income and expenditures would have been over the decedent’s expected lifetime and proof that the plaintiff would probably have been the beneficiary of the decedent’s estate.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases – Wrongful Death Attorney Dallas
There are so many types of wrongful death situations that only a few can be listed here as examples. Below is a list of examples that could cause a wrongful death situation that you may warrant a monetary award for the loss of your loved one. If you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to the negligent actions of another and you would like a free consult with a wrongful death lawyer in Dallas, call our office today.
• Birth Injuries
• Brain Damages
• Bus Crashes
• Child Death
• Construction Accidents
• Fraternity Hazing Injuries
• Head Injuries
• Motorcycle Accidents
• Nursing Home Negligence
• Offshore Injuries
• Patent Infringement
• Petrochemical Accidents
• Product Defects
• Spinal Cord Injuries
• SUV Rollovers
• Swimming Pool Accidents
• Truck Accidents
• Vehicular Accidents
• Workplace Injuries
• Wrongful Death
If you are looking for a Dallas wrongful death lawyer and would like sound advice regarding your legal options, give our wrongful death attorneys a call today. We will be more than willing to sit down with you and discuss the incident causing the death of your loved one as well as your potential money recovery regarding the wrongful death.