- 1. Crosley Law’s Wrongful Death Case Results
- 2. What Is a Wrongful Death?
- 3. What You Need to Know About San Antonio Wrongful Death Claims
- 4. What Is My Wrongful Death Claim Worth?
- 5. Survival Action Claims
- 6. The Importance of Working With an Experienced San Antonio Wrongful Death Lawyer
- 7. Crosley Law Helps Clients Get the Justice and Closure They Deserve
The death of a loved one can leave you reeling from grief, anger, and uncertainty. This emotional turmoil only increases when someone else’s negligence caused your loss.
At Crosley Law, we work to hold the at-fault parties accountable and get you the compensation you deserve for your emotional and financial losses. If you’re unsure how to proceed after the wrongful death of a loved one, contact us today at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 or complete the form on this page for a free consultation to discuss your case and options.
Crosley Law’s Wrongful Death Case Results
A quiet afternoon for a northeast Bexar County family was upended when a heavily intoxicated pickup driver veered onto their property at high speed. A father and mother were in their driveway working on their car. The father was pinned between the vehicles and killed, while the mother was severely injured.
Crosley Law’s investigation uncovered a pattern of willful and reckless conduct on the part of the driver. We worked closely with prosecuting attorneys in the criminal case to obtain all the tragic details of the accident, as well as medical experts who could speak with authority about the mother’s injuries. At the end of the trial, the jury awarded our clients $28 million—one of the 100 largest jury verdicts in the nation that year.
In this case, a young woman died at the scene when her car was smashed by a tractor trailer running a red light. The truck driver lied and told police that our client was the one at fault, and with no other witnesses he nearly got away with it.
Crosley Law conducted an extensive investigation, subpoenaing dashcam footage, telematic data, employment records, and more. Not only did we discover that the driver was clearly at fault, but also that the trucking company knew he was responsible, did not disclose the information, and had let him continue driving despite multiple previous safety violations.
A day in the park turned tragic when a 68-year-old was struck by a motorcyclist while crossing the street with his dog. He suffered a coma, was never able to provide his side of the story, and ultimately passed away from his injuries a few months later.
Although police had initially put the blame on the victim, Crosley Law able to obtain nearby security camera footage and work with an accident reconstructionist. We were able to show that the victim most like could not see the motorcyclist when entering the roadway, and that the motorcyclist was speeding and should have avoided the collision. As a result, we were able to obtain maximum policy limit settlements from two separate insurance companies.
Let us take care of the legal matters so that you can focus on taking care of your family and yourself. For information about wrongful death claims in Texas and what to do if you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence, keep reading.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
In Texas, wrongful death is defined as a death caused by another person’s misconduct, carelessness, lack of skill, or negligence. Wrongful deaths are sometimes caused by:
- Motor vehicle crashes (In 2021, there were 171 fatal car crashes, with 181 total fatalities, in San Antonio alone.)
- Defective and dangerous products
- Work-related and industrial accidents
- Criminal activities
In some ways, wrongful death claims are like personal injury claims in the sense that, had the deceased person survived their fatal accident, they would have been eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. In either case, you must prove that the accident was the result of another party’s negligence.
However, there is an important distinction to understand. The damages in wrongful death lawsuits are meant to compensate close family members for the financial and emotional consequences that they experience as a result of the death, rather than those sustained by the deceased person directly. (In most cases, your wrongful death lawyer will file both a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival action, which covers your loved one’s medical bills, pain, suffering, and other losses.)
What You Need to Know About San Antonio Wrongful Death Claims
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Texas, the right to file a wrongful death claim is typically limited to the spouse (including a common law spouse), legal parents, and children (biological and adopted) of the deceased.
Multiple claims are allowed but not required; eligible surviving family members can choose to bring their own claims separately, or multiple family members can file jointly as a group.
If none of the above file a wrongful death claim within three months of the death of their family member, then the personal representative (also known as executor) of the deceased’s estate may file a claim—unless all the above surviving family members ordinarily eligible to file a claim explicitly deny permission to do so.
Who Can Receive Wrongful Death Benefits, and How Are They Paid Out?
In Texas, wrongful death actions are for the exclusive benefit of any surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased. In other words, only those who are allowed to file a wrongful death claim in the first place are eligible to receive benefits. Siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, etc. are not eligible for benefits.
Unlike many other states, Texas has no specific rules for how a wrongful death settlement or verdict must be distributed among the surviving beneficiaries. Ideally, the surviving family members will come to a mutual agreement during the settlement negotiations, and the settlement will be divided according to their wishes.
However, if a wrongful death lawsuit goes to trial, the jury will decide how the payout will be divided. If the family has come to an agreement beforehand about how they would like the verdict distributed, juries will take this into consideration but are not required to abide by it.
According to Texas law, the jury is instructed to award damages as equitably as possible, “in an amount proportionate to the injury resulting from the death.” In general, this means that family members who were more financially dependent on the deceased individual, or who experienced greater emotional suffering, are likely to receive a proportionately higher percentage of the verdict.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Suit?
For wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations is two years after your loved one’s death. If you file after this period, you may lose your right to compensation.
Remember, also, that if no eligible surviving family members have filed a wrongful death claim within three months after their loved one’s death, the personal representative of the estate can bring forward a claim on behalf of the family, unless all eligible beneficiaries request that they do not.
What Is My Wrongful Death Claim Worth?
When you file a wrongful death claim, you want justice for your loved one’s death and compensation for your financial losses. Calculating these damages can be complicated, and an accurate calculation typically requires the help of a wrongful death attorney.
At Crosley Law, we understand the value of wrongful death claims and fight for full compensation for our clients. Wrongful death damages may include:
When someone you love is taken from you, there are often significant financial repercussions—not just in the short term, but often for as long as your loved one would have otherwise provided financial support. In your wrongful death lawsuit, you are allowed to claim these tangible financial losses, such as:
- Lost earnings and income
- Lost earning capacity and financial support (including medical benefits, pension plans, etc.)
- Lost inheritance
- Loss of the value of household services provided (cleaning, maintenance, childcare, cooking, etc.)
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
A loved one is worth far more to close family members than the amount of financial support they provide, and an untimely death takes a heavy mental and emotional toll that can’t be calculated in the same way that funeral expenses or future income can be.
While money can never truly replace the love, guidance, companionship, and emotional support that your loved one provided, Texas does recognize that these non-economic damages are significant and deserve financial compensation. Examples of non-economic damages that can be claimed include:
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of care, guidance, advice
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are a special category of damages that are meant to punish the at-fault party, rather than to compensate victims for specific physical or emotional injuries that they have suffered.
Under Texas law, these damages can only be awarded in wrongful death cases where the death was caused by “the willful act or omission or gross negligence” of the responsible party. In other words, their conduct had to go beyond simple negligence but cross the line into extreme recklessness, carelessness, or willfulness.
For example, if your loved one was killed by a drunk driver who was well over the legal BAC limit, or by someone traveling 30 miles per hour over the speed limit, exemplary damages may be awarded.
Survival Action Claims
In addition to a wrongful death claim, which focuses on your losses, you can also file a survival claim on behalf of your loved one. In this claim, you demand to recover compensation for their economic and non-economic damages that accumulated before their passing, such as their medical bills and pain and suffering. In this way, a survival action claim is more closely related to a typical personal injury case than wrongful death, with the primary difference being that the plaintiff is no longer alive.
Survival action claims can be especially important in situations where your family member suffered fatal injuries that eventually caused their death, but did not die right away. In the meantime, they may have experienced significant suffering, as well as racked up extensive medical bills. A survival action claim is the only way to recover these kinds of damages.
Survival action suits can only be filed by the estate, rather than family members. Another key difference is that any money recovered in a survival action lawsuit is awarded to the estate, which can then pay off debts and distribute any additional funds.
This means that, even if a deceased family member left no heirs eligible to file a wrongful death claim (spouse, parents, children), the estate could still bring a survival action. Any financial recovery made would then be distributed according to the deceased person’s will, or otherwise according to the normal rules of inheritance (intestate succession) if there was no will.
The Importance of Working With an Experienced San Antonio Wrongful Death Lawyer
Insurance companies are notorious for denying wrongful death and life insurance claims. These corporations are businesses first and foremost, and their goal is to minimize the total amount of benefits they have to pay out—not to take care of grieving families.
Some of the most common tactics insurance companies use include:
- Denying that your loved one’s fatal injuries were caused by their client’s negligence. This can be especially difficult if, for example, your loved one was killed in a car accident and the only surviving witness is the defendant.
- Undervaluing the long-term financial costs of losing a loved one (for example, in future earning potential calculations, value of household services, etc.)
- Disregarding or minimizing the amount of mental and emotional trauma suffered by loved ones.
- Offering a lowball initial settlement offer in the hopes that grieving families will take the money to end the ordeal, rather than gear up for a long, stressful, and potentially traumatic legal fight.
Moreover, the insurance company knows that most people without any legal experience will not fully understand their rights, and will not know how to calculate a fair settlement amount in a wrongful death case. And during a time of grief, these aren’t the sorts of details you should be forced to focus on anyway.
Working with an experienced wrongful death attorney can put you on even footing with the insurance company and ensure that
ensure you file your claim properly, accurately calculate your damages, and fight for the compensation you truly deserve. At Crosley Law, our attorneys go one step further and work closely with probate attorneys, grief counselors, and others to give you the support and compensation you need.
Crosley Law Helps Clients Get the Justice and Closure They Deserve
Our law firm has a reputation for handling wrongful death claims successfully, a reputation that makes defendants and their attorneys more willing to settle for an appropriate sum. Our goal as a firm is to not only get our clients the compensation they need, but also the justice and closure that they deserve.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligent actions, please call our San Antonio wrongful death lawyers at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000, or complete our contact form for your free consultation to get the help you need.
Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 71.002. (1985) Retrieved from https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/CP/htm/CP.71.htm
Texas Department of Transportation. (2022, May.) Texas motor vehicle crash statistics 2021: Crashes and injuries cities and towns. Austin, TX: Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://ftp.txdot.gov/pub/txdot-info/trf/crash_statistics/2021/14.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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