These are the damages available in wrongful death claims. A seasoned McAllen wrongful death lawyer can also help you recover compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering before death. These funds, if collected, will go into the estate, not directly to you, but it is still important to explore this option for additional compensation to ensure that you hold the person who caused your loved one’s death accountable.
To collect compensation for the loss of your loved one, you must determine who is liable for the death. You do this by filing a wrongful death claim. It might sound like a simple process, especially if you know that someone else’s negligence caused your loved one’s death. From a legal perspective, however, you must prove certain elements to collect compensation.
- Proving the at-fault party owed your loved one a duty of care
- Proving the at-fault party breached the duty of care by acting in an unsafe manner
- Proving that the negligence of the at-fault party caused your loved one’s accident
- Proving that the accident caused your loved one’s death
To prove each of these elements, your legal representative will need to investigate the accident that caused your loved one’s death. For example, if your loved one died in a car accident, your wrongful death lawyer in McAllen will need to investigate the accident, speak with witnesses, review police and medical records, and speak with medical experts to determine the cause of your loved one’s death.
This is not a simple process. You should not trust this awesome responsibility to just any lawyer. You need a lawyer who has experience helping wrongful death claimants like you. Your ability to recover compensation for the death of your loved one may depend on the legal representation you choose.
File Your McAllen Wrongful Death Claim Soon
Texas law also provides a specific (and somewhat narrow) window of time for someone to file a wrongful death claim. That time is only two years from the date of death. Two years might seem like a long time, but in reality, you will likely stay busy worrying about you and your family’s emotional recovery. Spending time with your family remembering your loved one is what you need to do during this challenging time in your life. Leave the legal details to an experienced lawyer.
While you focus on your recovery, your McAllen wrongful death lawyer can work hard to try to maximize your compensation, but it’s important to not delay. If you miss this important deadline, courts will likely prohibit you from filing a wrongful death claim, and you will miss your opportunity to recover compensation from the at-fault party.
If you wait too long, evidence may also go missing, witnesses may forget what they saw, and medical or police records may no longer exist. By speaking with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible, you can spend your time with your family while your lawyer advocates on your behalf.
McAllen Wrongful Death FAQs
The untimely and unexpected loss of a loved one causes extreme grief as well as confusion and frustration. Adding to this grief is the possibility that your loved one’s death could have been prevented entirely. When someone else’s poor decisions lead to the death of someone you care about, it can leave you feeling lost and wondering what to do next.
That’s where a trusted McAllen wrongful death lawyer can help. You can lean on your legal advisor, trusting his or her guidance and direction. We know you likely have many questions, and we can answer some below. To get more detailed information about how to best proceed with your specific wrongful death claim, speak with a wrongful death lawyer in McAllen today.
What is a wrongful death action?
A wrongful death is caused by someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness. For example, if someone goes out for a night of drinking, gets behind the wheel, and causes a fatal accident, the driver is liable for the victim’s death. In this case, because the driver decided to drive after drinking, the driver failed to act in a manner that would keep other people safe and is thus liable for the consequences.
A death caused by someone failing to take appropriate action also constitutes a wrongful death. This often happens with medical professionals. If a doctor fails to properly treat a patient who then dies, the doctor may face liability for the victim’s death.
A wrongful death action is a legal process that follows a wrongful death. Eligible parties file the claim with the goal of both reimbursing expenses they may have paid related to their loved one’s death and to compensate family members for their loss. To give yourself the best chance of holding the negligent party liable for your loved one’s untimely death, you should retain a skilled McAllen wrongful death lawyer.
Who are the defendants in wrongful death cases?
Nearly anyone can face liability for a wrongful death.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death, you may bring a wrongful death claim against one or more of the following parties:
- A doctor or other medical professional
- A driver
- A criminal
- A security guard
- Owner of an animal
In many cases, a victim’s death is caused during criminal activity, such as a robbery or mugging. When this happens, the prosecutor may file criminal charges against the alleged criminal. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the criminal proceeding will not provide you or your family with any compensation. The only way to try to collect compensation for your loss is by pursuing a wrongful death action. You should consider working with a respected McAllen wrongful death lawyer who can help guide you through the complex legal process.
Are McAllen wrongful death damages taxable?
It depends on how surviving family members receive their wrongful death damages. If damages are provided directly to the family members, then the IRS makes it very clear that these damages are not taxable. Such damages are treated just like compensation stemming from a personal injury claim.
However, some damages may go to the estate of your loved one before being distributed to eligible family members. In this instance, and if the amount of damages is high enough or your loved one died with substantial assets, the amount of damages might push your loved one’s estate above the estate tax threshold. If this happens, the damages are taxable, reducing the amount of inheritance that family members will receive.
As explained above and to summarize, wrongful death compensation is sometimes taxable. However, if the damages are paid directly to you, the IRS treats the money just as though you suffered injuries and received compensation from an at-fault party.
Who may bring a McAllen wrongful death claim?
Even if you feel great sorrow from the loss of a loved one, Texas law provides that only certain individuals can initiate a wrongful death claim.
These individuals include:
- Surviving spouse
- Children (both biological and legally adopted)
You notice that siblings are not listed here. Texas law provides very few options for individuals to bring a wrongful death claim, and siblings are not eligible to pursue such a claim. Only the individuals listed above may initiate a wrongful death claim.
This limit may prove troublesome if you have lost a dear friend or sibling. Regardless of how close you were to the deceased individual, only one of the individuals listed above may initiate a wrongful death claim in Texas. Working with a wrongful death lawyer in McAllen can help move the claim forward and answer any questions you might have about how to proceed.
How are McAllen wrongful death settlements paid out?
In most cases, insurance companies pay wrongful death settlements out in lump sums. This approach helps you to move on from the legal process quickly. When you take a lump sum settlement, you can put the legal stress behind you and get back to being with family and loved ones.
In some cases, wrongful death survivors want to have a structured settlement, much like an annuity. In this instance, the payout would happen over a set time, and the company would pay it out on a monthly or annual basis. When making this decision, you should consult with your attorney about which path you should take.
Should I accept the initial settlement offer for my McAllen wrongful death claim?
Settlements are a great way to put legal stress behind you while also providing you with the compensation needed to cover the expense of your loved one’s death. However, you do need to remain careful when considering an initial settlement offer, especially if you have not yet spoken with a lawyer.
Soon after your loved one’s death, the insurance company of the at-fault party may contact you with a quick settlement offer. You likely want to put all of this behind you, so you may feel excitement at the prospect of taking a settlement and moving on. Insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests. When they offer a quick settlement amount and pressure you to take it, it’s because they know that your acceptance is the best option for their bottom lines. Insurance companies want to keep as much money in their pockets and out of yours.
One way of doing this is by pushing a settlement offer on you. If you do not have a wrongful death attorney to look over this settlement offer, you need to speak with one immediately. If you take the settlement offer without having a lawyer review it, you may waive your right to bring any future claim against the insurance company for your loved one’s death. That could mean that you end up paying out of your own pocket for your loved one’s funeral expenses and shouldering the burden of the financial loss your family takes because you do not have your loved one’s income to rely on any longer.
Your McAllen wrongful death lawyer will take all of this into consideration when helping you with your claim. Together with your legal advisor, you can create an accurate estimate of your family’s future financial needs. This may include a calculation made by an actuary about how much more money your loved one would have made and could have contributed to your family’s financial well being.
Taking this important step to understand the full financial impact of your loss is crucial to settlement negotiations. Your lawyer will serve as your legal advocate, taking on the big insurance companies and aggressively working to maximize your compensation. This is what you and your loved one deserve. While you focus on grieving and spending time with family and loved ones, let your chosen legal representative serve as your advocate, helping to make sure that you do not have to cover any financial expenses related to your loved one’s untimely passing.
How long do McAllen wrongful death cases take to resolve?
As is the case with many legal questions, the answer here is that the specific circumstances of your accident will determine how long your case takes. A resolution for your wrongful death claim may take just a few months; other times, it may take years. Depending on the complexity of your case and the circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one, the time frame it takes to end your case may vary widely.
Even if the cause of the accident that caused your loved one’s death is clear, the at-fault party may have had little insurance coverage that doesn’t cover the final medical bills of your loved one’s medical care. Insurance companies rarely pay out the full value of a claim without a fight, so even if the at-fault party has adequate insurance coverage, your lawyer may still need to advocate on your behalf and aggressively negotiate with the insurance company to help you maximize your compensation.
In some cases, a dispute may arise regarding who caused your loved one’s death. In that instance, you may have to litigate your wrongful death case to prove who was at fault. This is why, when choosing a lawyer, you want a McAllen wrongful death lawyer with trial experience. Not every lawyer or law firm has experience handling complex wrongful death trials, and you do not want to be the lawyer’s first.
These factors, along with many others, determine how long your wrongful death case will take. In every instance, you need a lawyer who is not afraid to stand up to the big insurance companies in an attempt to help you collect maximum compensation.
How do I choose a McAllen wrongful death lawyer?
Choosing a wrongful death lawyer is a personal decision. There are many lawyers to choose from in McAllen. Understanding what separates one attorney from the next can help you make this important decision.
When choosing a lawyer, make sure the lawyer has experience handling wrongful death claims. Bringing a wrongful death claim is not only an emotional process, but also a time-consuming one. You need to make sure your attorney is skilled in this area of the law and that he or she can properly guide your case through this process.
Because of the nature of this type of case, you also deserve a compassionate lawyer. This is not some run of the mill personal injury case—rather, you have lost a dear loved one. Working with a lawyer who understands the pain you feel and what you are going through is an important part of your decision process. You need to feel comfortable speaking with your attorney. You also need to feel confident in his or her ability to help you. When you retain a lawyer, you place a great deal of trust in him or her to help guide you during one of the most challenging times in your life. You deserve someone who understands your emotions and also your goals.
You also need a lawyer who will not charge you upfront for his or her services. Most wrongful death lawyers work on contingency. This means that you do not pay your lawyer a dime unless you successfully recover compensation. You will work with your lawyer to determine a final fee based on a percentage of the monetary recovery. The law firm will likely also pay filing fees and other costs upfront. You are going through enough right now in your life; you do not need to worry about taking on additional legal bills.
How can your McAllen wrongful death lawyers help me?
If you lost a loved one because of someone else’s actions, you deserve to have a respected McAllen wrongful death lawyer at your side. Your lawyer can investigate your loved one’s death, meet with medical experts to determine an exact cause, review police and medical records, negotiate with insurance companies, and defend your rights at trial, if that’s what is required to maximize your recovery.
You want to retain a lawyer who will handle your case with compassion and understanding. Your lawyer can help you navigate the complex waters of the wrongful death claims process and attempt to collect the compensation you need to cover the expenses and financial hardships that you face.
If your loved one has met an untimely death because of someone else’s negligence, reach out to the Patino Law Firm and speak with a trusted McAllen wrongful death lawyer today.
Contact Our McAllen Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
When you need a specific medical procedure, you likely go to a specialist rather than your regular doctor. You may prefer to see a specialist who provides the specific type of medical guidance you need. The same is true of lawyers. A wrongful death claim is a complex legal process that you should trust only to someone who has the respect of the community.
Your lawyer will need to investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and conduct a review of your medical records. This may involve using medical experts to help determine the exact cause of death. Not every law firm has the resources necessary to take on such a complex case.
That’s why it is vital to the success of your wrongful death claim that you choose to work with a compassionate lawyer who understands what you are going through, but who is also an aggressive lawyer that can help you hold the negligent party accountable for the death of your loved one. No amount of money will bring your loved one back, but financial compensation can help keep you and your family from facing financial hardship because of the untimely loss of your loved one.
The average funeral today can easily cost over $10,000. Many people plan for this expense and pre-pay their own funeral expenses while they are alive. When a death is unexpected, however, this cost is usually borne by the decedent’s family.
Unfortunately, this is also a cost that can bring financial hardship. As you deal with the loss of your loved one, you may not be thinking clearly and just accept whatever fees the funeral home charges. That’s no fault of your own; you are dealing with extreme stress and grief. However, this is just one reason that you should consider bringing a wrongful death claim to hold the negligent party liable for your loved one’s death and for the financial burden you face.
We know you are going through a lot right now. We know that the last thing you want to think about is legal action. We also know that we can take that burden off your shoulders and help you get the compensation you need. Partnering with an experienced and trusted McAllen wrongful death lawyer at The Patino Law Firm is an important next step.
For a free case evaluation with one of our compassionate McAllen wrongful death lawyers, call us today at (956) 255-0023 or send us a confidential message through our contact page. We’ll do our best to help you and your family through this difficult time.