Best Wrongful Death Lawyers Austin, TX Of 2024 – Forbes

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If you believe a family member died due to someone else’s negligence, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Texas defines negligence as failing to use the level of care required to prevent harm to another person. Hiring a wrongful death lawyer can help you prove negligence and collect damages.

Lawsuit damages in Texas are divided into three categories:

  • Economic damages. This includes funeral costs, medical bills, lost future earnings, retirement, and inheritance.
  • Non-economic damages. Includes pain and suffering and loss of companionship and consortium.
  • Punitive damages. Used as a punishment for egregious negligence. Also known as “exemplary damages” in Texas.

You may also collect survival damages, which is the personal injury compensation the deceased was entitled to for their pain and suffering as well as their medical bills and lost income before their death. Speak with a skilled wrongful death attorney to learn what kind of damages you can claim.

Texas Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases

Under Texas law, you have two years to file a wrongful death claim. This timeline typically starts on the date your loved one died, but the circumstances of your case may extend the statute.

If the negligence were illegally concealed or otherwise not obvious, the statute would start on the date you realized you had grounds for a lawsuit.

Texas law will also toll the statute for minor children until they turn 18 and can legally file a wrongful death claim for parents or guardians. However, a minor can have another party file on their behalf before then.

Texas Wrongful Death Laws

Along with a statute of limitations, Texas law limits which beneficiaries can file wrongful death lawsuits and how much they can receive in damages.

  • Statutory beneficiaries. Only children, spouses, and parents of the deceased can file wrongful death suits. If a family member does not file a suit within three months, the personal representative of the estate can file.
  • Damage Caps. Punitive damages are capped at twice the economic damage amount (up to $750,000) or $200,00.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are also subject to damage caps with a $500,000 limit (max of $250,000 per healthcare practitioner and hospital). Other caps apply to local government entities and emergency services, including claims against police officers and EMTs.

Wrongful Death Settlement Considerations

Most wrongful death cases reach a settlement before going to court. Your attorney will negotiate with the defending party to reach a fair amount. However, it’s important to consider how the settlement will be paid and if taxes apply.

  • Lump sum payments. Settlement is paid all at once, typically when the deceased was the main breadwinner.
  • Structured payments. Structured settlements are paid in installments over time, usually monthly.
  • Taxed payments. Some settlements are subject to taxes, but not all—only punitive and emotional distress payments are taxable.

If there are multiple victims in a wrongful death case, the settlement will be split among the plaintiffs. A wrongful death lawyer can help you determine how to accept your settlement and which (if any) of your damages will be taxed.

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