Wrongful death is a civil matter where one party will try to prove that the other party has breached a standard of care and is directly responsible for the death of the individual related to the litigant party, usually the heirs or beneficiaries. Often, a wrongful death lawsuit is the only avenue of recourse when a company or organization kills a person as the entire organization cannot be part of a criminal trial. Criminal charges may of course, be levied against members of that organization. In the event that criminal prosecution is not an option, a Texas wrongful death lawyer will be able to make a civil case of the matter and force the liable party into Consult a Texas wrongful death lawyer before going to court or meeting with the other party. You want to avoid admitting any liability and potentially harming your case before it even formally begins.
What should I do before meeting an attorney?
You will need to present evidence that proves that not only is the other party liable, but the right to sue has not been waived through an existing contract. If the deceased, of sound mind and body, knowingly signs a release exempting the party from liability, there is very little that can be done.
What are the elements of Texas wrongful death law?
Texas law states that a case can be made for wrongful death if:
– The death was caused in part or in full by the conduct of another person
– The person or entity the suit is to be filed against was negligent or strictly liable
– There have been monetary damages inflicted as a result of the individual’s death.
If these conditions are met, a Texas wrongful death lawyer will be able to help you file suit for damages against the liable party.
How can a Texas wrongful death lawyer help my case?
The Texas wrongful death lawyer will be able to assess the details of your claim and determine if a wrongful death case can be made, under Texas law. the criteria for a wrongful death case is similar to a personal injury legal action, only that the injury caused the death of the individual whose heirs or beneficiaries are now suing on his or her behalf. Therefore, the proceedings are almost identical with the exception that the plaintiff takes the place of the decedent. The Texas legal code defines a few individuals that may be plaintiffs in a wrongful death case and a Texas wrongful death lawyer will help you organize you case, determine who in the party will be the plaintiff and prove the liability of the other party in the death of the loved one.
The Texas wrongful death lawyer will help you expedite the case to court, which is important, as the statute of limitations to file wrongful death cases is two years, starting from when the event that causes injury occurs. This limitation is absolute and the “discovery rule” does not apply, as it is implied that the decedents’ beneficiaries would be able to ascertain almost immediately, or after an autopsy that the other party was liable for the injuries that caused the death.
Where to look for an attorney
All individuals that practice law in the state of Texas must be active members of the integrated Texas State Bar Association. The Texas wrongful death lawyer should have credentials that prove his or her membership in that organization. If the individual claiming to be a lawyer cannot show proof of Bar Association membership, then this legal professional is very suspect. Although the court will usually be able to tell if a lawyer is unlicensed, taking just legal advice from an unlicensed lawyer can jeopardize your case. This is why proof of Bar Association certification is necessary when seeking these services, to ensure that the service the lawyer will provide is professional, ethical and in compliance with Texan law.
Evaluating your Texas wrongful death lawyer
The intention here is not to find a lawyer that seems sympathetic or promises you the highest settlement. No lawyer can accurately predict the outcome of a civil trial. As such, you must find a skilled Texas wrongful death lawyer that has experience in working with these types of personal injury cases and will offer a realistic and objective assessment of your case. Any lawyer that makes unrealistic promises that sound too good to be true should not be trusted.
Relevant fees and arrangements
The typical fee arrangement for wrongful death cases are contingency fees. Contingency fees are only collected if damages are won, which reduces the legal costs of the plaintiffs significantly. Some states may impose limits on the percentage of the settlement that the lawyer may collect, but Texas is not one of these states. Some lawyers will accept a lower contingency if the case is settled out of court, as this will save the lawyer time and provides flexibility for the Texas wrongful death lawyer to pursue the needs of other clients.
The Texas wrongful death lawyer may charge flat fees, combined with hourly fees for the use of the lawyer’s time and ancillary fees for the use of the lawyer’s staff, such as paralegals. No lawyer will accept a flat fee to pursue the entire wrongful death case. The flat fee would be for case evaluations, contract review and other legal advice work.
A retainer is the most likely arrangement for this type of case. Retainer is fee that remains in a trust account that the lawyer bills every time he or she performs a service related to your case. A Texas DWI lawyer may ask you to set aside a retainer fee. Leftover retainer can be returned to the client, but there is also a chance that the attorney will exhaust the retainer and require the client to refill the account. The retainer does not include court costs, which are also paid by the client. However, these fees, such as the fees for filing the case, are fixed.
Interviewing your attorney
The following questions are important when interviewing your attorney:
Do our existing agreements with the other party prevent us from filing suit against the other party?
Can you review our agreements with the other party?
What percentage contingency will you collect and is that percentage higher if we collect damages in excess of a certain threshold?
Do you accept a lower contingency if we settle out of court?
Can I contact you directly if there is a problem?
Can you allow me to examine your credentials?
What is your experience with my circumstances?
If you cannot handle my case, can you refer me to a lawyer that can?