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How to Prove Wrongful Death

How to Prove Wrongful Death in Texas

When Is a Wrongful Death Claim Appropriate?

It’s never easy losing a loved one. The mounting bills, funeral planning, and financial adjustment can be challenging — but none of this equals the devastation of the personal loss. Sadly, these situations are made even worse when another person’s negligence leads to the tragedy. This can leave survivors wondering how to prove wrongful death in Texas.

The first step in this process is realizing when it’s appropriate to file such a case. While there are many complexities involved — some of which may need to be settled in court — there’s a basic way to access a case. Consider the incident that led to your loved one’s death. Had they survived, would they have had a valid Fort Worth personal injury case?

If the answer to this is “yes,” then it’s likely that you have a valid wrongful death claim. However, proving your case could be difficult.

The Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

To prove wrongful death in a Fort Worth legal case, it’s necessary to establish that another party is liable for your tragic loss. There are many strategies for doing this, but they all depend on proving three specific elements in court. These include:

Duty of Care

A duty of care is simply a responsibility to avoid acts that could harm others. For instance, motorists have a duty of care to drive safely. Doctors have a similar duty to follow best practices in the field. Establishing that a duty of care existed is paramount.

Violation of Duty

It’s also necessary to show that the responsible party violated their duty of care. This means that proving wrongful death in a Fort Worth case requires presenting evidence that the other party did something wrong. For instance, maybe a motorist was speeding or a store owner failed to clean up a spill.

Harm Causation

People violate duties of care almost constantly. Anyone you see going faster than the speed limit is violating this duty. However, this only results in liability if harm results. In nearly all cases, the loss of a loved one easily meets this threshold.

Steps for Proving Liability in a Wrongful Death Case

Showing that the elements of liability exist in a case is a solid way to secure a settlement from the insurance company. However, adjusters will not always offer what you’re entitled to — or they may try to avoid paying anything at all. In such cases, litigation may be necessary. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few important steps in proving liability:

  1. Gather and preserve evidence
  2. Document the scene (if possible)
  3. Consult experts (e.g., medical, legal, accident reconstructionists, etc.)
  4. Establish that the person violated a duty of care and that this caused harm
  5. Utilize eyewitness testimony
  6. Depose opposing parties — ranging from the defendant to any of their witnesses
  7. Focus on causal links between the wrongful act and harm
  8. In cases involving negligence, highlight the fact that reasonable care was not practiced
  9. Establish both financial and non-financial damages
  10. Effectively utilize the discovery process to gather evidence the opposing party may want to stay hidden
  11. Negotiate from a position of strength.

Keep in mind that proving wrongful death in a Fort Worth legal case may not always be a linear process. These steps may occur in a different order, and in some instances, they may not apply to your case at all. However, it’s important to remember these strategies and utilize them when appropriate. Doing so may improve your odds and help you avoid common mistakes.

Mistakes to Avoid After Losing a Loved One

Knowing that someone is responsible for a loved one’s death and proving they’re responsible are two different things. This is what makes proving wrongful death cases in Fort Worth legal cases so complex. In many instances, surviving family members can secure a settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company — but this is typically only if the company thinks their client will be found liable in litigation.

Therefore, having evidence of liability is critical for both settlement negotiations and wrongful death lawsuits. When going either of these routes, there are some common mistakes that could derail the entire process. Make sure you avoid these errors:

  • Delays in taking legal action: The statute of limitations means wrongful death claims must be filed in a timely manner. Failing to do so could forfeit your rights.
  • Failing to preserve evidence: Failing to document and preserve evidence can greatly complicate the process of proving liability.
  • Failing to speak with an attorney: Fort Worth wrongful death cases are intricate and complicated, so speaking with a legal professional is essential.
  • Speaking with insurers without legal counsel: The biggest mistake someone can make is discussing their case with an insurance company without legal counsel.
  • Accepting an early settlement: Insurers will try to pay you off quickly — before you fully realize what you’re entitled to.
  • No documentation for emotional distress: Non-economic damages can be substantial in wrongful death cases. Make sure you’re able to document these damages — such as emotional distress and loss of companionship.
  • Discussing your case publicly: Public discussions about your case — particularly on social media — could harm your legal position.

It’s possible that these mistakes will not prevent you from proving wrongful death in a Fort Worth legal case. However, they greatly increase the risk of an unfavorable outcome. This could mean securing less compensation than you’re entitled to — or no financial recovery at all. Due to these potential pitfalls and their devastating consequences, it’s essential to consider seeking out legal assistance.

Do You Need an Attorney for Fort Worth Wrongful Death Cases?

When filing a wrongful death claim, the law does not require you to have an attorney. However, failure to hire one could negatively impact your case. Without legal representation, insurers will have less incentive to offer a fair settlement. After all, they have entire teams of lawyers — and they’ll know that you don’t have any representation.

Additionally, statistics consistently show that individuals with an attorney secure higher settlements and court awards on average. The simple fact is that insurers want to avoid litigation against a dedicated lawyer. And if they refuse to offer a fair settlement, your attorney can fight for economic, non-economic, and even additional punitive damages in court.

Hiring a dedicated legal professional may be the smartest move you make when trying to prove wrongful death in a Fort Worth legal case. Varghese Summersett is here to help. Contact us at (817) 207-4878 to schedule your free consultation.

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