Do Some Attorneys Specialize in Wrongful Death Cases?
In 2021, over 250,000 people died from medical malpractice.
It’s a huge issue facing public health, and if your loved one fell victim, they deserve justice. But if you’ve never done it before, you might not know who to turn to.
That’s where we can help! Keep reading for this guide on if some lawyers specialize in wrongful death and how to pick the right Houston wrongful death attorney.
Do Some Lawyers Specialize in Wrongful Death?
The short answer is yes, they do. But in reality, any lawyer can handle a wrongful death lawsuit. They’re good to go as long as they have the right licensing to practice law in your state.
While you could hire any old lawyer, it’s not recommended. If you want to stand the best chance of getting justice for your loved one, you need a specialist.
You’ll want to find an experienced wrongful death attorney to take on your case. If possible, they should have experience with cases that have similar circumstances.
The in-depth knowledge will be invaluable for building your case. They know what evidence you need, what deadlines to meet, and the likely process. This is especially vital if your case is more complex than you first thought.
What Benefits Are There for Hiring Specialist Wrongful Death Attorneys?
Law encompasses a vast amount of topics, from murder to real estate. Most attorneys will have solid foundational knowledge, but things move fast. Statutes and court cases can change the law, and it’s ever-evolving.
For this reason, Houston lawyers focusing on wrongful death will likely have more in-depth knowledge. After all, they’ll be keeping up with all the changes and new laws that come into practice.
Then there are the issues of figuring out how much compensation you want to seek. This area of a wrongful death suit can be a challenge, but surviving relatives could get money for:
- Outstanding medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Loss of the deceased income
- Loss of any inheritance
- Loss of any services provided by your loved one
- Loss of companionship, affection, and support
Some of the losses can be difficult to put a figure on, but that’s where experience helps. Wrongful death lawyers will have seen hundreds of cases and will have much knowledge to draw on. They’ll know the likely outcome you can get and will use similar past cases to develop a figure.
Insurers might try to offer you a settlement, but this might not be fair compensation. Insurers are more interested in their profits than justice and will try to lowball and get you to settle for as little as possible.
When you have no idea what your case could be worth, this could lead to you accepting less than you deserve. Your wrongful death lawyer will review any settlement offers and ensure they’re fair.
If they aren’t, they’ll tell you it’s not worth taking and will take you through courts to get more. They’ll be right by your side, an expert guiding light making the path and the case clear for you at each stage.
Laws That Could Be in Your Favour
In some respects, there are common principles that wrongful death cases follow. For example, a plaintiff has to show that:
- There was a duty of care owed by the defendant
- That duty of care got breached
- The loved one died because of this
- The plaintiff suffered damages because of the death
Past that, there can be some vast variations between cases and their key factors. For example, in some states, only the surviving spouse or minor children can file.
In others, relatives can’t be the ones to sue; the deceased’s estate must do it instead. This is then distributed to the eligible family members when the lawsuit is over. In Texas, it’s the spouse, children, and the deceased’s parents.
There are also different statutes of limitations across states. Plaintiffs will only have a certain amount of time to file if they want justice. Those periods vary though there could be some exceptions.
For example, if a doctor made a fatal error that caused death but wasn’t found until much later. In these cases, the statute gets tolled, meaning it starts from discovery, not death.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from when the cause of the action arose. A wrongful death attorney will explain the statute of limitations and how much time you have. They’ll work to meet those deadlines, so you don’t lose your right to claim.
How to Pick the Right Wrongful Death Lawyer
Now you know who can practice wrongful death lawsuits and why you need a specialist, let’s look at how you pick one. No two wrongful death cases are the same, and no two lawyers are, so you need to get the right match.
Find Out Who Will Handle Your Case
It’s not always the case, but sometimes the lawyer you speak to on the phone or meet in person may not be your case handler. Make sure you ask who your point of contact will be and ask to talk to them before you hire anyone.
You deserve to speak to the person handling your case so you can vet them. It’s no good to follow this guide only to find out you interviewed the wrong person.
Check Their Case Experience
Wrongful death can take many forms, so look for one who has had a case like yours before. For example, cases involving fatal police shootings have been on the rise.
In 2021 alone, over 1,000 people got shot and killed by police. While it’s still wrongful death, a case covering a fatal police shooting differs from medical malpractice.
Because of this, you’ll want to hire an attorney who has experience in the correct type of wrongful death. First, look for a wrongful death lawyer specializing in cases like yours.
Ask how long they’ve been an attorney and how long they’ve specialized. Also, ask them if they have had a similar case and how that turned out. Otherwise, you might get a lawyer that can’t help when the case gets tough.
Check How Many Cases They’ve Won
Once you’ve worked out if they have the right experience, ask for their win statistics. How many wrongful death cases have they won? How many have they settled out of court too?
You want to try to choose a wrongful death lawyer who can win your case. Their track record will give you a good idea. For example, if they have an 80% success rate, it means they won 8 out of 10 cases, and if it’s only 50%, they’ll only win half.
Experience only counts if it translates to clear winning statistics. Be aware of a high number of cases settled out of court. It’s not always the case, but it can hint that they’ll push you to take a settlement that might not be enough. This is because they could only care about closing cases.
Ask For Testimonials and Reviews
Asking family and friends is an excellent place to start, but not everyone may know someone suitable. In this case, you’ll want to ask any lawyer you talk to if they can provide you with testimonials.
If they have nothing to hide, they’ll have these ready if they aren’t on their website already. Don’t rely on only reading the reviews; you’ll want to speak with that past client too. They’ll be able to give you more details and answer any questions you might have.
You can also look them up on search engines like Google, who provide reviews. It’s not an immediate red flag if they have some bad reviews, just read them and see how they respond.
What should raise your suspicions is if they have more bad than good reviews. Or you notice that they are rude to their clients when responding to negative feedback. You can also check the Better Business Bureau for reviews.
Confirm the Costs
Next, you need to find out what the lawyer’s fees will be to make sure you’re comfortable. In most cases, they’ll take a percentage of your settlement should they win your case.
You might have to pay upfront, though, and there are litigation fees too. If you need to pay these, you could pay a large sum before seeing an offer for settlement.
Ensure you get a full breakdown of costs so you know what to expect. It’s no fun having hidden fees surprise you, leaving you with a lawsuit you can’t afford.
Picking the Right Houston Wrongful Death Attorney Made Easy
You must pick the right Houston wrongful death attorney if you want to win your case. The law can be tricky and not made easier because each wrongful death claim is different. This is why you need specialist experience on your side, to take the stress off your shoulders.