Did you lose a loved one due to another’s negligence in Texas? Contact our El Paso wrongful death attorneys to get started on your claim now.
There’s nothing more painful than the loss of a loved one. When you suffer such a loss due to wrongful death, there’s nothing more tragic.
If you’re reading this, you may have lost a loved one under circumstances that qualify as wrongful death. You’re undoubtedly consumed with grief. You may be worried about the family’s financial survival because the person taken from you brought home a significant amount of the family income. You probably feel overwhelmed. You may be wondering how to find the right person to help you with a wrongful death claim.
We are here to help. Our firm offers free legal consultations. Call our El Paso wrongful death attorneys today.
Don’t worry about having the money to pay for answers you need up front. Just give us a call as soon as you can and schedule a free legal consultation.
The information below will help you better understand your wrongful death claim. We’ll start by showing you the many ways you can ruin your claim without realizing it. Then, we’ll share the story of one of our clients, in hopes of answering additional questions you may have. Please read to the end to get as much information as possible.
Common Wrongful Death Claim Mistakes
There are many ways you can accidentally damage your wrongful death claim. Familiarizing yourself with these mistakes is your best defense against making them yourself; please read through each.
Assuming You Don’t Have a Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is intended to help compensate for the emotional and financial damage the death of a loved one has caused your family. The loved one may be a wife or husband, a parent, or even a child. You may be wondering if your situation qualifies for a claim. You may be unsure what compensation you may be entitled to.
If the situation involves loss of an adult who provided financial support to the family, compensation is going to include lost income that the person would have provided.
In addition to economic damages, the law allows for non-economic damages for pain and suffering, as well as other emotional and psychological impacts on the family members, whether or not the person brought income to the family. There may also be potential damages from the physical pain and suffering of the person who died.
It’s important to get more information about the circumstances around the death of a loved one before assuming you’ve got no claim. The best way to do this is through a free legal consultation with our El Paso wrongful death attorneys.
Agreeing to Give the Insurance Company a Recorded Statement
When you lose a loved one due to the actions of another person or entity, such as a corporation, you can expect a call from the insurance company of the responsible party. During the call you will most likely be asked to provide a recorded statement.
It’s a mistake to agree to this.
You may be led to believe that giving your statement is “routine” and that it will help to get your claim processed as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the purpose of this call is to help the insurance company, not you.
The insurance company is looking for information it can use to deflect blame for the accident. The less responsibility the company bears, the less it is responsible to compensate you.
Do not underestimate the insurance adjuster’s ability to make you feel heard and get you talking. Chances are, if you agree to provide a statement, the caller will put you at ease the conversation will take on a life of its own. This is why it’s essential to remember the purpose of this call.
You may not realize you’ve said anything that could be turned against the value of your claim. If you have, though, they’re going to flag it and get to work.
Let’s take the example of someone whose spouse was killed in a truck accident by a long-haul trucker who fell asleep at the wheel. When the insurance company calls the grieving spouse, there’s no doubt the person is vulnerable and hurting. The grieving spouse may want to provide whatever information the insurance company asks for, to ensure the claim gets processed.
As the call goes along, the sympathetic adjuster shares a little about their own marriage, those little things, like always having to nag their own spouse to take out the garbage and get the oil changed…
If the bereaved person innocently says they always had to nag their spouse to get around to chores, too, the adjuster may hear: the vehicle the victim was driving was poorly maintained and out of alignment… it could have ‘drifted’ into the path of the truck, and who knows when the brakes were last checked…
This is just an example, but when you look at things people say innocently enough, especially when they are under strain and grieving, it’s clear that having an experienced attorney to handle communications with the insurance company for you can be critical to the strength of your claim. The attorney knows the ways the insurance company will be maneuvering to save money.
Many people make the mistake of assuming they are legally required to speak to the insurance company. Such communications are best turned over to your El Paso wrongful death attorneys.
Failing to Choose a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
It’s completely understandable to feel overwhelmed at a time like this. You may feel as though the world continues to whirl around you while you are stuck in place. You may find yourself ignoring the bills and isolating emotionally and socially.
Shutting out the world will not take care of your obligations, but during the grieving process you may struggle to care. It’s important during this time to allow others to help you as much as you can.
All too often, we see families pulled under financially by medical bills and funeral costs. The absence of income takes a toll on the family’s existing bills, let alone these new and unexpected expenses. Our El Paso wrongful death attorneys are here to take care of your wrongful death claim so you can focus on the emotional needs of the family. We want to help you get the compensation you deserve to make it through such a dark time to begin to heal, emotionally and financially.
Sometimes people put off starting a claim because they think the statute of limitations gives them plenty of time to deal with it later. The evidence for your claim isn’t going to wait for you, though, no matter how much time you have according to the statute.
Evidence may be accidentally thrown out when the accident scene gets cleared up. Something might get missed by the police that could help you claim, such as a neighborhood security camera outside a store. If no one contacts the owner of that camera, critical footage may be recorded over.
Witnesses can “disappear” if contact information changes. Even if your attorney reaches a witness after a lot of time has passed, their memory of the accident may have faded, leaving you with far less effective testimony than you could have gotten right after the accident.
Don’t take chances with your compensation. Hire a personal injury trial attorney to handle your wrongful death claim as soon as you are able.
Hiring the Wrong Wrongful Death Attorney
When you reach out to hire a lawyer, it’s crucial you seek someone with trial experience who focuses in the realm of personal injury.
Too many people fail to realize that not all lawyers can bring them the same results. Like doctors, lawyers often focus on specific practice areas. You wouldn’t seek help for a heart condition from a neurologist. Make sure you seek a lawyer who practices personal injury law and has a successful record in wrongful death claims.
In addition, make sure your attorney is a trial attorney. While some claims are resolved around the negotiating table, not all of them settle. If your claim needs to go to trial to bring you the compensation you deserve, you need a lawyer who’s been there and won.
El Paso Wrongful Death Client Story
We are sharing the story below in hopes it will answer additional questions for you. Though we’ve edited the names and details to protect the privacy of our client, the informational value remains. Please read it through. When you’ve finished, please call our El Paso wrongful death attorneys to discuss your specific claim.
Early one morning in March not so long ago, Gus Sanchez drove south on Patriot Freeway in El Paso with a regal, long-haired, and very annoyed cat riding shotgun. After ten minutes that felt like twenty, enduring baleful meowing from the crate beside him, Gus attempted to use reason.
“Look, León, I know you’re unhappy with me right now, but you got into Heaven-knows-what in the garden. You’re all matted-up and you stink. This is the best idea I’ve got to get back into ‘Mommy’s’ good-graces — for both of us.”
Gus tentatively reached a finger toward the metal grid that served as the crate’s door to scratch the cat’s head. He narrowly escaped a fiercely-clawed swat for his efforts as continual meowing transformed into a malevolent hiss.
“Okay, have it your way. Maybe I should just leave you at the groomer and pick you up next week,” Gus said, indignantly as he subconsciously edged away from the crate.
León settled indignantly in the crate, knowing he had the man’s shameless devotion. In truth, the cat loved him back, though hard-pressed to admit it.
Gus had brought him home two years before from the shelter where he volunteered. The cat had lost a back leg somewhere on his journey to eventual rescue. Though León got along amazingly well without it, he was unable to run. It was his jellyfish-like gate that had drawn Gus’s attention to him the day the man began helping in the cattery.
The shelter crew knew León would be coyote-fodder in less than a day if left out in the wilds of Texas. The cat seemed to know it too, though he was far too proud to admit his weakness. It was this lion-like pride that earned him his name, “Lion.”
It took over two months of Gus’s daily presence in the rescue’s cattery for the cat to acknowledge his presence. Their relationship began with the cat’s growl when Gus put his food down. Gus laughed now, remembering their first conversation. At least the cat had begun to treat him as more than furniture.
His wife had been less-than pleased when Gus brought León home, and the cat refused make it any easier.
Though Gus took it as a high complement that the cat would curl in his lap during T.V. time in the den, the animal would hiss if Gus’s wife Marisol sat beside him. She got over it by ordering a recliner with built-in heat and massage, crediting the nasty cat for her coup.
Marisol and León now silently agreed to ignore one another, so long as Gus fed and cleaned up after the cat.
Now they were headed to the groomer early for a first-come, first-served cat bath. As they exited onto I-10 east toward Van Horn, Gus reminded the cat not to tell anyone how much the bath would cost — least of all, Marisol.
“Not that you’re not worth it, but she’d freak out,” Gus added. The cat turned away.
Seven minutes later they were at the groomer. Gus gave the young woman at the desk his cell number to call when León was ready. She then, per policy, she confirmed the emergency contact, just in case.
“Marisol Sanchez? I have a cell number here that ends in 0143?”
“That’s correct, yes. But please be sure to call me on my cell. I’ll be nearby to pick him up as soon as he’s ready,” Gus promised.
Gus went out the door as the woman carried her furry cargo to the back, ignoring the hissing sounds emanating from the crate. He wasn’t due to work until eleven and had two hours to himself before the cat would be ready. He knew just how to use them.
Gus hopped back onto I-10 and drove to IHOP for a breakfast of pancakes covered in strawberries and whipped cream, plus two eggs, hash browns, sausages, and bacon.
After breakfast, he headed directly across the interstate to Costco Wholesale, taking his time meandering through the wide isles.
An hour and 45 minutes after dropping off León, Gus filled his beige Hyundai with 48 rolls of two-ply toilet paper and got back on the I-10 to pick up his cat. The call hadn’t come in yet, but it should be any minute now.
During the time Gus had been in Costco, the interstate had begun to fill with cars. Not enough to slow down travel, but enough to make switching lanes amidst the many 18-wheelers tricky. Gus was unfazed by the big trucks around him as he headed south toward his exit; he’d driven these roads for two-decades and was an excellent driver.
Gus passed a slow-moving Toyota and was biding his time in the left lane to let a big-rig rumbling up on his right to pass so he could move back toward the exit lanes. He put his signal on and waited for the bright blue cab to roll forward and take its enormous rust-colored, corrugated container out of his way.
The big-rig drew up alongside, but then seemed stuck in place. It must have been going the exact same speed as he was, because it seemed as though neither of them were moving.
Confused, Gus hit his horn once but it was too late. In the very same instant, the truck lurched left, slamming the Hyundai into the median. Gus never knew what hit him.
He was gone.
Marisol was on her hands and knees in the garden looking for the cat when her cell phone rang. She ignored it and continued her search. She’d come home for lunch because she’d forgotten her phone, only to find her husband’s prized cat missing.
“Come on, León. You come out for me, okay? You know we are friends now. You got me my chair. Please come out so I can go back to work. Here, kitty, kitty…”
Marisol was growing increasingly worried that somehow the cat had escaped their six-foot cinderblock-walled garden. León wouldn’t last long in the surrounding neighborhood after the sun went down. Gus would be frantic.
Failing to find the cat after 20-minutes of searching, Marisol decided to go back to work and call her husband. Maybe he knew a secret hiding place. She grabbed her keys and stepped back out the door.
As Marisol walked to her car, she saw a highway patrol officer in Sheila Green’s driveway next door. The woman and the policeman were speaking quietly and looked up at her when she came out. Now they crossed into her driveway to intercept her.
That scene would remain frozen in Marisol’s memory. The officer’s name tag said “Vasquez.” Marisol had absently noted that the blood seemed to drain from Sheila’s face as she approached; she was pale as a ghost.
Then she knew. Something was very, very wrong. Her knees buckled and Officer Vasquez rushed forward to catch her before she hit the ground.
The groomer called Marisol’s cell at 4 p.m. after failing to reach Gus to pick up the cat. Marisol’s nineteen-year-old daughter Emma answered and had her boyfriend Marc head downtown to retrieve the pet.
The next ten days were a blur as funeral and burial arrangements were made and friends, family members, and neighbors called and came by to give their condolences.
When the services were over and respects paid, Marisol spent four days alone at home. She just sat in her chair for hours as day turned to night. What was she waiting for? For Gus to come through the door? She didn’t know, but she waited.
Emma called from school every day. She promised to come home again on the weekend. Marisol appreciated it, but Emma had her own grieving to do and mid-terms were around the corner, so she faked her way through the conversations, never letting on that she was stuck. She said the right words at the right times to get through the conversations until she could be alone again with her grief.
She got up only to drag the mail inside and feed the cat. She slept in the chair. It was easier than sleeping in the empty bed.
Marisol got through the days one day at a time. Sometimes five minutes a time. Time was all she had now. She’d had twenty-one wonderful years with Gus, but she wanted more.
On the fourth day, to Marisol’s utter shock, León, unable to jump, pawed at her leg to be picked up.
“Okay, buddy, just don’t hurt me,” she said doubtfully, gingerly lifting the cat into her lap. They both fell asleep soon afterward.
A few minutes past noon, Marisol was startled awake by her husband’s voice.
The cat shifted in her lap as she sat up, sucking in air. She scratched León’s ear, wondering what had happened. She heard Gus. Heard him.
Maybe she was losing it. But something deep down told her things had changed. She needed a way forward.
She called Mrs. Greene over from next door. Her neighbor had been widowed several years before. Maybe she had some ideas on how to move forward.
Sheila Greene came over with scones and they sat at the kitchen. They drank tea and ate. They talked about all of it. Sheila’s loss, Marisol’s loss. The pain. The inertia.
Sheila helped Marisol confront the growing pile of bills she hadn’t had the energy to look at since her husband died. Gus’s income was gone, and with Emma in college and only a small 401 K for the future, Marisol was completely overwhelmed. That’s when Sheila recommended she call the Chavez Law Firm about a wrongful death claim.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
Sheila accompanied Marisol to the El Paso office of Attorney Enrique Chavez, Jr. As Marisol sat down for a free legal consultation, Chavez could see she had the exhausted look he’d seen so many times before when a loved one had been lost.
Marisol’s first question was about the cost of hiring Chavez for a wrongful death claim.
The attorney explained that the firm operates on a contingency-fee model. “This means the firm covers all case expenses from start to finish. We do an accident investigation and carefully establish your damages to make sure you don’t leave money on the table when you request compensation. In addition, the firm covers the cost of litigation, should the insurance companies refuse to settle.
“Our firm only receives compensation when we successfully resolve your claim,” said Chavez.
Does my loss qualify for wrongful death compensation?
Marisol nodded that she understood, and proceeded to outline the accident that killed Gus. When she was through, she shifted nervously and then asked, “Can you tell me if I have a claim?”
Attorney Chavez said, “We’ll be doing the investigation to confirm everything and get copies of the police report, but if Officer Vasquez was right about the truck driver falling asleep at the wheel, yes, you have a claim. And you very likely have a claim against not only the driver, but the trucking company, and possibly the shipping company. Any person whose negligence contributed to the accident that killed your husband in any way can be brought into the suit.”
What is my wrongful death claim worth?
Marisol sat for a minute, wrapping her head around what Attorney Chavez had told her. “Yes, I noticed you did say ‘should the insurance companies refuse to settle.’
“Can you give me an idea of what a claim like this is worth?”
Chavez replied that this was a question that couldn’t be answered until a thorough accident investigation was completed and damages had been established. “There are simply too many variables, Mrs. Sanchez. The accident falls into the category of a wrongful death claim, but from there each claim is unique. The circumstances that caused the accident will be specific to this accident, as well as the damages that resulted from it, both economic and non-economic.
“I can tell you that you should be skeptical of any attorney who says they can give you a value for your claim from the start before an investigation is completed. Making this type of guess is irresponsible.
“We first need to gather evidence, speak to witnesses, and do as much research as is necessary. For example, we need to find out if there is any information out there that points to this driver having previous accidents — especially due to falling asleep at the wheel. If he’s done this before and been permitted to continue driving until he did it again, that information will be extremely relevant to your claim,” said Chavez.
“Likewise, it’s relevant if the trucking company doesn’t have regulations in place to ensure their drivers get the sleep they need while on duty,” Chavez continued. “Or if, for instance, they have ‘rules,’ but incentivize their drivers to make unrealistic deadlines without wanting to know to how they achieve them. All these things need to be looked at.”
“I do want to commend you for inquiring about a lawyer two weeks after the accident. Whomever you choose to take on your claim is going to want to get started as soon as possible on that investigation. If you’d waited, finding relevant evidence and witness testimony would only get harder.
“In addition, gathering evidence as to the cause of the accident, our firm will help you gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim for damages. These will include economic damages, such as funeral and burial expenses, lost income, and loss of future retirement contributions. Your damages will also include all of the ways your husband’s death has emotionally devastated your life.
How long does a wrongful death claim take?
Marisol nodded, tears welling in her eyes as she thought of the future she’d lost with Gus. Sheila handed her a tissue, wrapped a supportive arm around Marisol’s shoulders, and asked,
“How long does a wrongful death claim take?”
“That’s going to depend on a couple of factors,” said Chavez. “The first is how long it takes us to complete the accident investigation and gather all available proof to support Mrs. Chavez’s claim.
“When we’ve determined your damages and have the proof to support them, we’ll send a demand letter to the insurance company. From that point on, the timeline of your claim is going to depend on how the insurance companies involved respond.
“If they are reasonable about arriving at a fair settlement, we can then bring your claim to a swift resolution. But if they fight us, we’ll take them to court.
“Please don’t let the possibility of a trial worry you though, Mrs. Sanchez. Our firm has a very successful record of resolving wrongful death claims, both via settlement and at trial. And, sometimes an attorney’s reputation provides incentive for the insurance company to settle before getting dragged into court. While there are no guarantees your claim will be resolved through settlement, our firm’s reputation is well known in the area.
“In either case, our firm will be ready to fight to bring you the compensation you deserve. That’s why whether you hire our firm or another, we always recommend you choose a trial lawyer to handle your claim.”
Marisol was happy with the information she received in her free legal consultation. She retained our firm and today we are happy to say Attorney Chavez got her eight times the amount the insurance companies initially offered her, including punitive damages.
Call Our El Paso Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
If you have any questions about a wrongful death claim because you have lost a loved one, please call us. We are ready, willing and able to answer the questions that you have concerning your claim.
Contact the experienced El Paso wrongful death attorneys at Chavez Law Firm today for a free case evaluation and case evaluation. Let our experience work for you.