Austin Wrongful Death Lawyer

When you lose a loved one or a family member to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, the grief and anger are overwhelming. Your hopes and dreams are suddenly crushed. The comfort and solace you used to seek in their companionship, were ripped away. And, if your loved ones were a breadwinner for your family, your sorrow is compounded by fear of an uncertain financial future. No amount of financial compensation can make things right, but a wrongful death case can secure your financial future and restore some of your family’s lost opportunities, such as your children’s ability to go to college.

Austin Wrongful Death Resources

Why Choose A Shaw Cowart Wrongful Death Attorney in Austin?

At Shaw Cowart LLP, our team of Austin personal injury attorneys is here for you. Our law firm knows that this may be a tough and challenging time in your family’s life, so we will take care of your claim so you can take care of your surviving family members. With decades of experience and a proven track record, we will fight for the maximum compensation you and your family deserve as a result of someone’s negligent actions.

At a time like this, you need the help of experienced professionals. The Austin wrongful death lawyers of Shaw Cowart LLP will help you pursue justice and have legal representation so that you can move forward. Call our legal team at 512-499-8900 to learn more about your case.

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Why You Need an Experienced Austin Wrongful Death Lawyer

  • Wrongful death cases are emotionally charged. You need compassionate wrongful death attorneys in Austin who know what to expect in wrongful death litigation, so they can help you understand what a wrongful death lawsuit can and cannot accomplish for you. During wrongful death cases, disputes can arise between family members who do not agree on how the proceeds should be divided. We can protect your interests while helping to dispel tensions and disagreements between family members to help you reach a fair resolution.
  • A wrongful death lawsuit is not a criminal case. Wrongful death lawsuits are very different from criminal proceedings. In some cases, the defendant may also face criminal charges, but in most, they do not. If criminal charges are filed, the criminal case is separate from your civil suit. The government may seek some limited restitution in a criminal case, but it is up to you to pursue the wrongful death compensation that you and your family need. That is where an experienced wrongful death attorney comes in. We do not need a criminal conviction to win your case. We know that you deserve justice, and we are here to help you pursue it.
  • Wrongful death cases are complex. You need an Austin wrongful death attorney who has experience with the type of accident that caused your loved one’s death, as well as experience with Texas wrongful death cases. Proper investigation of the accident or incident that caused your loved one’s death is just one important phase of what we do. In addition to establishing liability for your loved one’s death, we must also prove damages.
  • Each case is unique. The details surrounding your loved one’s death, how it has affected you, and how it will impact your life in the years to come, must be thoroughly explored and presented to the jury in a meaningful way. We do this to ensure you maximize your compensation and receive financial support.

How Our Austin Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help You

  • We have the background. Wrongful death laws are very different in each state. At Shaw Cowart, we know the ins and outs of Texas’ wrongful death law. We know what to expect from the defense attorneys you will be up against because we are also experienced defense attorneys. We have a track record of success in securing significant verdicts and settlements for our clients.
  • We can help you determine who has a claim. Texas is very specific, and very limited, as to who can receive wrongful death compensation. We can help you determine who in your family, if anyone, is eligible to pursue a wrongful death claim.
  • We can help you determine what can be recovered. Although we have extensive experience handling wrongful death cases, when it comes to calculating damages, we do not rely on our experience alone. We also work with trusted experts, such as economists and vocational experts, to determine how much to demand in economic damages for you. If a survival action is pursued, we have medical experts who can present evidence of the pain and suffering your loved one endured prior to death as a result of the injuries.
  • We do not ask you for money upfront, and we only charge a fee if you receive compensation. We represent wrongful death clients on a “contingent fee basis”. There is no retainer. We advance all litigation expenses so you do not have to. We do not charge attorneys’ fees unless we win money for you. When we do win money in your case, our fee is a percentage of your recovery, not an hourly rate that could eat up the money you are fighting for.

What Are The Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims In Austin?

Austin wrongful death lawyer

A wrongful death case is appropriate in situations where your deceased loved one would have had a personal injury claim, had they survived their injuries. Common causes of wrongful death claims include motor-vehicle accidents such as motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, and car accidents. If your loved one was killed in the event of a car accident, reach out to the Austin car accident lawyers at our law firm.

More examples of wrongful death claims commonly arise as a result of:

Causes of Wrongful Death In Austin

All deaths feel wrongful when they occur to someone we love, but when the death is sudden, traumatic, and caused by another party’s actions, it’s particularly painful for surviving family members. Common wrongful death claims such as those listed above result from negligent or reckless behavior on the part of an individual or business. Criminal violence is another common cause of wrongful death claims. A wrongful death claim of criminal violence proceeds separately from any criminal charges in the case. The victim can win a wrongful death case regardless of the outcome of the criminal trial.

More commonly, wrongful death cases result from pure negligence, such as distracted driving or ignoring an obvious safety hazard on a business property. Common causes of injuries resulting in wrongful death include:

  • Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Crush injuries
  • Internal injuries
  • Fractured hips in the elderly
  • Burn injury deaths
  • Missed post-operative infections
  • Nursing home neglect injuries
  • Falls
  • Sports injuries
  • Accidental poisoning

If someone else’s carelessness means you’ve lost a loved one and a family provider, you shouldn’t be left with financial hardship as a result.

Proving Liability in an AustinWrongful Death Claim 

A Texas wrongful death claim requires the same burden of evidence as a personal injury claim. In civil cases claiming damages, the person making the claim for damages (plaintiff) must prove the negligent party’s (defendant’s) liability through a preponderance of evidence. Meeting this burden in a wrongful death case can be challenging. An experienced wrongful death lawyer in Austin will investigate all aspects of the accident or incident that caused the death and document the available evidence. The evidence must meet the four required tenants of liability in a wrongful death case.

Duty of Care

To make a successful wrongful death case, evidence must show that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to the deceased individual to take reasonable measures to prevent injury or death. An example is a driver’s general duty to follow traffic laws or a doctor’s special duty of care to provide the industry-accepted level of medical care to a patient. Only when a duty of care existed at the time of the injury will a case meet the Texas wrongful death standard.

Breach of Duty

If one party owed a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent harm to others, the evidence must show that they breached that duty through an act of negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. Examples might include a product manufacturer who failed to place an adequate warning label on a dangerous product or a motorist who drinks and drives, causing an accident. A breach of duty of care leaves the offender liable for damages in a wrongful death claim.


The third legal liability point in wrongful death claims is causation. The surviving family members must show that the negligent party’s breach of duty directly caused the victim’s death. Sometimes insurance companies argue that the victim died of natural causes unrelated to the negligent action. It may take consulting with medical experts to prove a causal link and show that the action directly caused the death.


A successful claim for wrongful death compensation requires demonstrating that the close surviving family members suffered significant damages due to the wrongful death, such as the loss of a family provider or the loss of support in the household like a caregiver for the children, a homemaker, or the family member who cared for the lawn, property, and household maintenance. All of these losses are significant in a wrongful death claim.

What to Do After a Family Member’s Wrongful Death

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with anguish after a loved one’s wrongful death. First, take the time to breathe, care for your family, and say goodbye to your family member. Then, prepare for your later financial recovery and justice in your claim by safeguarding evidence such as the following:

  • The police report, accident report, or incident report
  • Your loved one’s medical records from before and after the injury
  • The autopsy and medical examiner’s report
  • Any receipts or invoices of medical expenses before the death
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Evidence of the loved one’s income such as W2 tax forms or recent pay stubs 
  • Photographic evidence from the scene of the accident or injury

Then, call the compassionate wrongful death attorneys at Shaw Cowart to represent you in your claim before speaking with insurance company representatives.

You Must Act Quickly In An Austin Wrongful Death Claim

Austin wrongful death attorney

We know that this is a difficult time and taking on a legal battle can seem overwhelming, but we encourage you to act quickly. There are many reasons why.

  • Statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time limit for filing your lawsuit. If it expires before you file, you lose your legal right to sue. In Texas, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years. There are certain circumstances that can put the statute of limitations on hold, so you should not assume that it is too late if two years have already passed. We can determine if you still have a case.
  • Preserving evidence. We can build a much stronger case when we collect the evidence right away. Over time, evidence can be lost or destroyed. The sooner we start our investigation, the more likely it is that we will find the evidence we need to win your case.
  • Gathering witness statements. Witness statements must be preserved early in the case. We need to identify and locate all potential witnesses in your case. The best time to get witness statements is when the incident is fresh in their memories. Memories fade and details can be lost. Witnesses can move away, die, or lose interest and willingness to participate.
  • You need peace of mind. Contacting us right away can preserve your claim and gives you a chance to find out what to expect going forward, so you are not waiting and wondering if wrongful death compensation is a real option for your family’s financial future. We are here to fight for you and to lift the burden so that you can focus on your needs and take care of your family.

Being doing all of these steps, we can help ensure that you and your family are compensated for your loss to help provide in the future and handle costs such as funeral expenses and more.

What Kind Of Damages Can You Recieve In An Austin Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death claim is meant to compensate for the damages that you incur due to losing your loved one. The damage in your case will depend on your relationship with the deceased and the role he or she played in your life. Damages for a spouse will differ from those for a child. A minor child’s damages will differ somewhat from those of an adult child. If we take your case to trial, the jury may determine how the damages are divided among beneficiaries. Wrongful death damages can include:

  • Loss of your loved one’s earning capacity – the money your loved one would have contributed had he continued to have an income
  • Loss of inheritance – money that would have been left to you and other beneficiaries in the future, if not for your loved one’s premature death
  • Value of lost support and services – such as child care and home maintenance
  • Expenses for psychological counseling for you and other beneficiaries
  • Loss of companionship, society, love, and comfort – the time you would have spent together and the benefits that flow from being in each other’s company
  • The emotional anguish and mental pain and suffering caused by your loved one’s death
  • Punitive damages, in some cases

While it may seem only fair that punitive damages would be involved in any case of wrongful death, that is not how the law works. The availability of punitive damages is based on the conduct of the defendant, rather than the results of the defendant’s action or inaction. Punitive damages are only available in cases of gross negligence.

Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Only those who qualify under Texas law can file a wrongful death claim in Texas. This law prevents distant family members from attempting to profit from a family death. Only those with direct financial impacts from the death can recover compensation. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.004 specifies that only the following can recover compensation:

  • The spouse of the deceased
  • Children of the deceased (biological or legally adopted)
  • Parents of a deceased child
  • A court-appointed executor or an executor named in the deceased individual’s will or estate plan

An executor of the deceased’s estate may only file in the event that no close family member files a wrongful death lawsuit. Then the amount of compensation awarded goes to the deceased estate and to the named beneficiary in the will or according to state intestacy laws.

Compensation for wrongful death claims may be paid out in a single lump sum or in a series of installments in a structured settlement.

Common Wrongful Death Questions

Who can sue for wrongful death in Texas?

Texas law is very specific as to who can benefit from a wrongful death lawsuit. Only the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased are allowed to receive wrongful death compensation. Siblings and other relatives are not allowed to sue for wrongful death.

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Do I qualify as a surviving spouse under Texas law?

In most cases, this is a straightforward issue, but there are several situations that can give rise to this question.

  • Common law marriage. Texas is one of a few states that recognize common law marriage, so if you are a common-law spouse you have the same rights and responsibilities as if you had entered a ceremonial marriage. However, you may encounter a situation where you must prove your common-law marriage truly existed. We can help.
  • Legally separated. You are still considered the surviving spouse if you were legally separated at the time of death.
  • If you were the spouse when the death occurred, you can still sue for wrongful death if you have since remarried.
  • Putative spouse. Texas law does not allow a putative spouse to sue for wrongful death. Putative spouse situations can be complex, so please do not make assumptions. We may still be able to help you recover compensation.

What is a survival action?

A survival action is a separate claim from wrongful death. The survival claim benefits the estate of the deceased. If you do not qualify as a wrongful death beneficiary but are to inherit from the estate, a survival action may increase your inheritance. The damages are those that would have gone to your loved one in a personal injury lawsuit, had your loved one survived and include:

  • Medical bills incurred before death due to the injury
  • Physical pain and suffering of the deceased
  • Mental anguish experienced by the deceased
  • Funeral and burial expenses

For example, if your loved on had gotten into a drunk driver car accident, the damages that would have gone to your loved one’s drunk driver accident claim could increase your inheritance, instead. In the event that this does occur, contact our drunk driver accident attorneys in Austin today to learn more.

How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?

An Austin wrongful death lawyer can give you an approximate timeline of your unique wrongful death claim. The length of the process varies depending on many factors, including the amount of evidence in the case. A case with substantial evidence of clear negligence and liability can resolve in only a few months through a prompt settlement from the negligent party’s insurance company. If the insurance company denies the claim or only offers a seriously undervalued settlement amount, the process may proceed to court in a lawsuit within the state’s two-year statute of limitations.

The wrongful death lawsuit process in court may take longer than a settlement, but court awards for damages are typically larger than settlement amounts. If the insurance company used bad faith practices to deny the claim a jury could award the family member further compensation as a deterrent to future denials of valid claims.

Austin Wrongful Death Case Results

  • Lead counsel in wrongful death litigation involving four fatality accidents. Parties agreed to a confidential settlement.
  • Lead counsel in wrongful death litigation arising from railroad crossing accident resulting in death. Parties agreed to a confidential settlement.
  • Lead counsel in medical malpractice wrongful death case. Parties agreed to a confidential settlement.

Wrongful Death Client Testimonials

  • “I have never had to use an attorney to sue anybody. These folks are the most professional in any business I have ever been involved in. They were always very kind and very straightforward and did not get our hopes up.”
  • ” I would highly recommend them if you need a Law Firm. Thank you so much Shaw Cowart LLP for representing me and helping me get closure in my case.”
  • “Shaw Cowart LLP is an excellent law firm. As an attorney, it was fascinating watching these professionals work. I could not recommend this firm more highly.”

Call our Austin Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

If you believe that you may have a wrongful death claim in Austin or anywhere in Texas, please do not wait until it is too late to pursue justice. Hold the responsible party accountable and call Shaw Cowart LLP at 512-499-8900 or email us today to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.

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