Losing a child, a parent or any loved one is a painful, life-changing experience. Fortunately, wrongful death laws exist to protect family members and loved ones following a fatal accident or injury. A wrongful death case is the most serious type of personal injury lawsuit. Cases may involve fatal injuries related to medical malpractice, product liability, worksite accidents, car crashes, premises liability and other claims.
At the Law Office of Joel A. Levine, we handle complex wrongful death cases. We will work personally with you to examine the case, gather evidence and present your claim before courts in central Texas. We are dedicated to making the process transparent and as simple as possible for you and your family. Whether we take the case to trial or accept wrongful death settlements, we will protect your rights and fight to recover the compensation that you deserve.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
Claims for fatal injuries are typically filed by the decedent’s estate, family members and relatives. Dependents, heirs and other designated beneficiaries are entitled to receive compensation as well. These complainants can recover monetary and punitive damages. Monetary damages may include compensation for medical expenses and loss of present and future earnings. Surviving family members are also eligible to request punitive damages for emotional suffering, such as loss of companionship, loss of consortium or loss of a parent.
To prove a case, the plaintiff’s wrongful death attorney must prove that the injury was caused by the actions or in-actions of another individual, company or entity. This is known as negligence and includes actions that are reckless, careless, unskillful or caused by poor training. Generally, negligence is proved by demonstrating that the defendant or person responsible for the injuries ignored their duty. This may include not maintaining a work-site, failing to drive safely or performing medical procedures in a manner that was not prudent.
In addition to recovering compensation for financial and emotional hardship, Texas laws permit family members to file related claims for the trauma associated with a loved one’s death. Your wrongful death lawyer may attach a survival action claim to a lawsuit if the decedent suffered unnecessarily in their last days or moments. For example, prolonged treatment in a hospital after suffering egregious injuries creates additional financial and emotional hardship for the decedent and their loved ones. Survival action claims also include instances where the plaintiff experienced a fear of impending death during a plane crash or other traumatic event. This particular statute allows the estate to request damages that the plaintiff would have recovered in any other personal injury case.
Another Texas statute permits something known as a bystander recovery claim. This allows family members to recover additional compensation after witnessing the death or injury of loved one. Within the complaint, such claims are typically described as intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress depending on whether the defendant knew or should have known that family members would witness the injuries.
How Soon Does a Claim Need to be Filed?
Laws that apply in Austin, Texas and other parts of the state give Plaintiffs two years from the time of death before the window to file a lawsuit expires. The statute of limitations is extended in these specific circumstances.
- If claims are related to the death of a child or minor
- In cases where the defendant concealed their negligence
- When parties were physically or mentally incapable of filing
- If the negligence was not discovered until long after the death, such as with defective drugs, asbestos-related mesothelioma or hidden conditions
Unless your case fits one of these exceptions, the statute of limitations will expire in two years, and you will lose your right to recover damages. Because the investigation and legal process in wrongful death law is so complex, it’s prudent to contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as you are able.
Wrongful death attorney Joel A. Levine has been protecting the rights of injured individuals and their family members for nearly a decade. From building a case to fighting for compensation in the courtroom, each part of your case will be handled with precision, care and understanding. We will examine the facts and create the most successful strategy to help you with your case.
Contact the Law Office of Joel A. Levine, Personal Injury Lawyer, today to request a free consultation. We work with clients throughout central Texas and handle all wrongful death cases on a contingency basis. You won’t have to pay anything unless we win your case. If you’re unable to come to our offices in Austin TX, we’ll come to you or arrange a virtual consultation that fits your schedule.
Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions
- Frequently Asked Questions
What constitutes a wrongful death?
A wrongful death occurs when an injury causes a person’s death or a fetus’s failure to be born alive, the injury is caused by another person’s or entity’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default,” and the injured person would have been entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit had he or she lived or been born alive. (Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §§ 71.001 to 71.003 (2021).)
What types of incidents are commonly the cause of wrongful death?
Car accidents and other negligence-based accidents are some of the most common causes of wrongful death. Medical malpractice is another common reason a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought against a person or entity. In some cases the act is intentional, such as a criminal act.
What is the difference between a wrongful death case and a criminal case?
The purpose of a wrongful death case is for the plaintiff to seek financial compensation for a loved one’s death. The purpose of a criminal case is to determine whether or not a crime has been committed and what the consequences will be for the accused.
How much is a wrongful death case worth?
The amount of compensation received in a wrongful death lawsuit differs greatly from case to case depending on the details and circumstances. There is no way to know for sure how much a case is worth without consulting a lawyer, and even then it must wait until the case is settled for a definite amount to be determined.
Who should I sue for wrongful death?
It is important to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the right person or entity, which can be a confusing matter. A personal injury attorney can help you determine who to sue in order to have the best chance of obtaining compensation.
What is negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit?
The legal definition of negligence is the failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is some duty to act. An example is drunk driving. The person may not have intended harm, yet should have acted more responsibly.
How is a monetary value assigned to pain and suffering?
Lawyers have a few different methods for associating a monetary value to pain and suffering. It often depends on the length of time a person is considered to have suffered. Grief can also be assigned a monetary value when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This is a complicated matter, which is why legal advice is necessary.
How does the lawyer get paid in a wrongful death case?
Wrongful death cases, like other personal injury lawsuits, are paid for on a contingency basis. The lawyer won’t get paid unless you, the plaintiff, collect compensation. Then a predetermined percentage of that compensation is paid to the lawyer. You won’t need to pay any upfront fees.
Helpful Tips for Personal Injury Cases:
In a busy city like Austin TX, motorists frequently share the road with bicycle riders. Riding a bicycle is a great way to get exercise and enjoy the outdoors. You might also ride your bike to and from work. Some cyclists make a living as interoffice couriers or pedicab operators. Whatever your reason for riding, it’s important for cyclists to obey traffic rules, watch out for errant drivers and make safe decisions. Bike accidents have the potential to cause severe and possibly fatal injuries. The risk of severe injuries in a bicycle accident is extremely high because riders have little or no physical protection aside from gloves and a helmet. Some of the most common injuries associated with these types of accidents are road rash, closed head injuries, brain damage, contusions, lacerations and broken bones.
Regardless of how severe the injuries are, the elements of proving a bicycle accident case are similar to any other auto accident. To recover compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost earnings, diminished earning capacity and other damages, your bicycle accident lawyer needs to prove that the motorist was negligent. This can be a complex process. First, a professional personal injury lawyer will gather the facts, document the accident scene and work with professionals to establish the conditions and situation that caused the collision. In a case like this, you might be fighting against a league of attorneys who work for the driver’s insurance company and who will try to blame you. At the law office of Joel A. Levine, we have been handling bicycle and pedestrian accident cases since 2008. We are committed to recovering the fullest compensation for your injuries.
Bicycle Accident Statistics
The statistics on bicycle collisions are shocking. In Texas alone, approximately 42 cyclists die each year after collisions with cars and trucks. Nearly three-quarters of cyclists are concerned about safety and accidents. However, motorists are often oblivious to the bicycles that are on the road with them. In Austin TX, the police department reports that the city experiences an average of 315 bike collisions annually, including some 280 with injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges that accidents involving bicycles are under-reported. It’s estimated that only 10 percent of injury cases are ever reported by law enforcement. Nevertheless, statistics are grave.
- Intoxicated motorists are responsible for 40 percent of fatal bike accidents.
- About half of all reported bike accidents involve motorized vehicles.
- Approximately 75 percent of accidents occur at or near intersections.
- Most fatal bicycle collisions take place between 4 a.m. and 8 p.m.
- One-fifth of fatal accidents occur between 8 p.m. and midnight.
- Cyclists accounts for 2 percent of all accident-related deaths.
Bicycle Accidents and Negligence
To determine responsibility in an accident case, your attorney will review the facts to establish whether the driver’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident and subsequent injuries. The driver might be responsible if your attorney can prove that they cut into a designated bike lane, ran through a stop sign, were distracted or failed to observe a cyclist. Your bicycle accident lawyer can secure phone records to see if the driver was talking on the phone or texting at the time of the accident. Violations related to speeding, drunk driving and traffic signals are extremely effective pieces of evidence when establishing the driver’s negligence.
Occasionally, cyclists are responsible for accidents. When bicycling in Austin or anywhere in central Texas, cyclists are expected to follow state and city laws. City ordinances and sections of the Texas Transportation Code require bicycles to have functional reflectors and headlights. Under these laws, a bicycle is a vehicle. Therefore, all bicycles are required to follow traffic signals and obey all traffic laws. For example, bicycles are required to use the right-most lane or shoulder and ride in the direction of traffic. A violation of any state or city rule permits law enforcement officers to initiate a traffic stop. Tickets are issued for violations and can become part of the cyclist’s permanent driving record. Frequent bicycle violations recorded by the Austin Police Department include missing reflectors, failing to use a headlight after dark, running red lights, failing to obey stop signs, cycling the wrong way on a one-way street and cycling on sidewalks in business districts.
Hiring a Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident, you need effective representation from a qualified personal injury attorney. Injuries sustained in a bike accident can be severe and have long-lasting implications. In extreme circumstances, an accident lawsuit can become a wrongful death case if the cyclist dies due to their injuries.
At The Law Office of Joel A. Levine, we provide professional, competent representation and legal assistance to cyclists and other accident victims throughout central Texas. We offer free consultations and a contingency fee plan, so you don’t have to pay anything unless we win your case. If you are unable to come to our office due to your injuries, our bicycle accident lawyer will come to you. Whether we provide legal advice or take your case to a jury trial, we aim to make the process clear, transparent and as easy as possible for you and your family. Call us today to take the first step toward recovering the compensation that you deserve after a bicycle accident injury.
Frequently Asked Questions
What types of injuries can result from a bicycle accident?
You can sustain a lot of injuries if you are involved in a bicycle accident. You can be thrown from your bicycle, which can cause everything from cuts, scratches, abrasions and bruises to broken bones to severe head trauma. The extent of the injuries you sustain typically are influenced by what hit you, such as another bicyclist or a car, the speed at which you and the other vehicle were traveling, and whether you were wearing a helmet or any protective gear.
What should you do after a bicycle accident?
After a bicycle accident, you should exchange information with whoever hit you, such as another bicyclist or a driver. Be sure to get their full name, address, driver’s license information and insurance information. Another step you will want to take is obtain the names, phone numbers and addresses of all the witnesses who may have witnessed the accident. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, showing anything that may have led to the accident, such as a driver running a red light or turning into a bike lane. Finally, obtain medical treatment. Bicycle accidents can cause internal injuries, so you should see a doctor if you feel pain.
Should I hire an attorney after a bicycle accident?
It is strongly recommended that you hire a personal injury attorney who has experience with bicycle accident cases after a bicycle accident occurs. Many insurance companies try to place fault on the bicyclist for the accident, trying to reduce or eliminate their insured party’s responsibility in the accident. A lawyer can fight to show why the other party was at fault and why they should be responsible for your injuries. Additionally, an attorney can help you recover the maximum amount of money that you may be entitled to by properly valuing your case and fighting for the money you deserve.
How long do you have to file a lawsuit after a bicycle accident?
Each state has a different timeline in which you must file a personal injury lawsuit. In the state of Texas, you generally have two years to bring a lawsuit against another party for damages and injuries you sustained following a bicycle accident. If you fail to bring a lawsuit against the party within this timeframe, the statute of limitations expires, and you can no longer bring a case against the other party. There are a few exceptions to this rule though, such as when a minor is involved, so it is best to talk to a lawyer about the specific timeframe for filing after your bicycle accident.
What damages can you expect from a bicycle accident?
If you have been involved in a bicycle accident, you may be wondering what damages you can collect as an injured bicyclist. There are different damages that you may be able to collect, depending on the circumstances. The most common types of damages that one collects following a bicycle accident as lost wages, money for past, current and future medical expenses related to the injuries sustained in the accident, and money for pain and suffering.
Call us today at 512-982-1510 for a free consultation.