What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death occurs any time that an accident results in someone’s death as a result of the negligence of some other person or a defective product. Typically, each state, including Texas and New Mexico, have what is called a wrongful death statute which defines how the wrongdoer can be responsible for their negligence and for damages to the family that lost the loved one.
Who can be held liable in a wrongful death claim?
In a simple auto accident, it would be the person who ran the stop sign or who was intoxicated and negligently caused an accident. In a products liability case, it would be the manufacturer of the vehicle that had the designer manufacturing defect. We have had a lot of 18-wheeler cases where people have died as a result of truck drivers who undergo tremendous fatigue because they are on the road driving for too many hours. We actually had one from a double fatality in Missouri. We filed the suit in St. Louis where an 18-wheeler crashed into a land vehicle on the shoulder and killed two people. Those are wrongful death accidents in which the trucking company is responsible. A wrongful death can also include a case against a physician, a nurse, or a hospital if a patient dies as result of injuries from negligence.
Who can claim on someone’s behalf of the wrongful death?
By statute, there are statutory beneficiaries of a wrongful death accident and it is typically the spouse and the children.
What type of wrongful death claims have you filed?
Our firm has handled everything from vehicle rollovers, 18-wheeler crashes, medical malpractice where patients have died as a result of negligence of a doctor or hospital, asbestos cases where a client breathed in asbestos fibers and then died of mesothelioma, which is a rare asbestos cancer. I have had cases where people have died as a result of a severe fall. So, in any field out there in the world where someone’s life is taken as a result of someone else’s negligence, we have handled a wide, wide variety of them.
How can your firm help someone who is going through this claim? What is their first step?
The first step is to find a good, experienced and conscientious lawyer. Just because a lawyer has a big billboard does not mean they are really a trial lawyer. Some of them will even admit, “I do not go to court. I do not file lawsuits.” They handle these things in high volume. So, you should seek out a lawyer who has the experience you need, the priorities you need, the kind of reputation you need to hire the doctor, physician, nurses, hospital administrator, engineer, experts, the clergy abuse experts, and psychologists around the country. That is a very expensive process. You want to find a law firm that has experience with these issues and has the finances to be able to financially support your case to a fair conclusion.
We receive a lot cases from lawyer referrals, other law firms in Texas and New Mexico that know that we have the experience and the financial ability to handle these claims, and that we have had much success at it. The family of someone killed in an accident will go to their family lawyer and they will say, “You should go to the Gilstrap and Associates Firm. They do a lot of this.” That is a good way to get to a good law firm. It is by a reference from someone who knows.