Corpus Christi Wrongful Death Law Firm
When an accident in Corpus Christi causes your loved one’s wrongful death, grief and anger can paralyze you. It’s not easy to contemplate a future without a family member’s love and support. As you move forward, you must meet challenging personal and financial responsibilities, often alone. If your loved one’s death leaves you as the sole breadwinner for your family, you may now have to stretch a single income to cover dual-income obligations. To minimize your personal and financial challenges, you should take immediate action to protect your family’s legal rights.
Whether your loved one’s wrongful death occurred due to an auto accident on a Texas highway, a workplace accident, or some other unfortunate event, the responsible parties should pay for the damages. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can provide the insight and guidance that you need. Contact the Patel Firm today.
We Believe Responsible Parties Should Pay
At the Patel Firm PLLC, we’ve worked hard to secure the financial compensation that our clients needed to meet some of life’s most critical challenges. Our attorneys have a strong working knowledge of Texas wrongful death statutes and complex liability issues. We’ve used our experience and firm resources to help our clients win lawsuits against individuals, corporate defendants, and insurance companies. We do our best to make responsible parties pay.
Our firm focuses on personal injury law and handles cases for injured clients only. We’ve fought for their rights to recover damages from car and truck accidents, on-the-job injuries, slip-and-fall incidents, and other accidents. We’ve worked closely with grieving families, and we understand how losing a loved one changes those families’ lives. We approach each case with compassion for our clients and the determination to provide the best possible outcomes.
Our Firm’s Results
Our law firm believes in resolving cases quickly and aggressively. Whether we’re dealing with commercial defendants, insurance companies, or defense attorneys, we always seek outcomes that are in our clients’ best interests. We have successfully negotiated, mediated, and tried cases on behalf of our injured clients. Our accomplishments have earned our firm a reputation for producing fast outcomes.
Attorney Minesh J. Patel founded the Patel Firm PLLC to provide professional legal services for injured victims in Corpus Christi and throughout Texas. Before establishing his own practice, he gained extensive personal injury expertise through his work with several South Texas injury law firms. Mr. Patel and Senior Litigation Attorney Justin P. Green have secured favorable results for commercial and private passenger vehicle accidents, workplace incidents, premises injuries, product liability issues, and other personal injury and wrongful death cases.
We believe it’s important to support our clients, both legally and emotionally. That’s why we are available 24/7. Our commitment to personal injury clients has earned Mr. Patel a lifetime membership in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, as well as other professional honors. As each injury case is different, we can’t guarantee a specific result; however, we promise to strive to secure the best possible result for every client given the specific circumstances.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of someone else’s negligent act. When a person is engaged in business-related activities or driving a company vehicle, his actions may render his employer legally responsible. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code describes a legal right to recover damages due to, “a person’s or his agent’s or servant’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.”
The incidents that cause wrongful deaths are often sudden and unexpected. They may occur during everyday events and in every possible venue.
- Private passenger vehicle accidents: Texas Department of Transportation’s statistics show that 3,639 accident-related fatalities occurred on Texas roads during 2018.
- Commercial vehicle accidents: Of all accident-related fatalities in Texas, The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that 664 fatalities involved a large truck, such as a tractor-trailer rig.
- Premises Liability injuries: Texans sometimes sustain fatal injuries while on someone else’s property. Individuals may die from defective property conditions, unguarded swimming pools, unsafe construction operations, and many other hazards.
- Defective product mishaps: Fatalities occur due to fires, work-related vehicle crashes, on-the-job accidents, and events caused by defective industrial products and machinery.
- Workplace accidents: Workers sustain fatal injuries on construction sites, in factories, and during vehicle accidents. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 534 work-related fatalities in Texas during 2017.
- Oil rig and refinery accidents: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) tracks oil industry-related deaths in its Fatalities in the Oil and Gas Extraction Industry (FOG) database. The most recent statistics show that 45 Texas workers sustained fatal injuries from 2015 to 2016.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
The Texas Wrongful Death statute specifically identifies parties entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim or suit. One or more survivors may file a lawsuit on behalf of all survivors. Those with a legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Surviving spouse: A spouse recovers damages as long as he or she and the decedent were legally married when the wrongful death occurred. A surviving spouse recovers damages even if the couple was separated or if a divorce was pending but not final.
- Decedent’s children
- Decedent’s parents
- Decedent’s executor or administrator: If the survivors don’t file a lawsuit within three months after a death occurs, the decedent’s legal representative may file, unless all of the survivors request otherwise.
Who Is Responsible for a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful deaths occur under such varied circumstances that proving causation and negligence requires a strong commitment. That’s where our personal injury experience has become a critical asset. For each of our clients’ cases, we analyze evidence, review legal issues, and determine the potentially responsible parties.
- Private passenger vehicle accidents: When a vehicle crash causes a fatal injury, it’s usually the negligent driver’s fault. If someone else owns the vehicle, he or she shares liability as an owner and for negligently entrusting the vehicle to a driver with a poor driving history. When repair, maintenance, or defect issues contribute to an accident, other entities may also share liability.
- Commercial vehicle accident: When a commercial vehicle driver causes an accident, his trucking company and employer may share liability for any fatal injuries. Whether the responsible driver is operating a tractor-trailer rig, a dump truck, or some other large commercial vehicle, the cases often involve complex contractual relationships and a variety of defendants. These often include a truck owner, loading contractor, or maintenance contractor.
- Premises accidents: A property owner is responsible when a fatal injury occurs due to a dangerous condition or a negligent operation on the property. Fatal injuries sometimes occur because of poorly maintained common areas and stairways, negligently operated and maintained swimming pools and many other dangerous premises conditions. The property owners and their maintenance, security, and construction subcontractors share responsibility for the damages.
- Product liability accidents: When a product causes an injury, the manufacturer and seller are strictly liable for the damages under Texas law. The designer, manufacturer, distributor or anyone in the chain of distribution is legally responsible for damages due to a defective product.
- Workplace accidents: As Texas law doesn’t require employers to carry Workers’ Compensation coverage, survivors may file for wrongful death damages. An employer that chooses not to provide WC coverage loses the right to plead critical defenses if an employee or his or her family files a lawsuit to recover damages.
- Oil rig and refinery accidents: Offshore oil employers have no Worker’s Compensation coverage requirement. Regardless of the circumstances, when a worker sustains fatal injuries on the job, the survivors have a legal right to sue and recover damages under the Jones Act, a provision under Maritime Law.
Compensable Damages for a Wrongful Death Action
A wrongful death judgment pays damages to survivors for losses sustained because of a family member’s death. A jury awards damages on the emotional, social, and financial contributions that a decedent would have made to his family members. These potential damages include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of companionship and love
- Loss of services
- Loss of financial support
- Family grief and emotional losses
The Texas Wrongful Death Statute also allows survivors to recover exemplary or punitive damages when they prove that a defendant’s “willful act or omission or gross negligence” caused the decedent’s fatal injuries.
Compensable Damages for a Survival Action
The Wrongful Death Statute allows a decedent’s personal injury claim to proceed after death. According to the law, heirs, legal representatives, and the estate of the injured person may recover damages for losses the injured person endured before death. The lawsuit prevents a negligent party from avoiding responsibility for negligent actions. Recoverable damages include the economic and non-economic costs typical to a personal injury claim.
- Lost income
- Medical bills
- Surgical expenses
- Prosthetic devices and structures
- Scar revision
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of bodily functions
- Emotional distress
- Diminishment of family and spousal relationships
The Fight to Win Your Wrongful Death Suit
As with any personal injury lawsuit, winning a wrongful death case requires legal knowledge, attention to detail, and a dedication to producing the best possible outcome. The fight to win your loved one’s wrongful death case begins immediately after a fatal injury occurs and only ends once you have executed the settlement documents. Much of the information we’ve gathered during the early stages of a case has become critical evidence during negotiations, mediations, or trials.
Once our client decides to pursue a wrongful death action, our firm begins a comprehensive investigation. We use all available information to pinpoint the pertinent legal issues and all involved parties. We also work to document and preserve evidence and build a strong legal argument. Listed Below are some of the things that will be explored in the investigation process:
- Accident scene: We use photographs and diagrams to identify and document landmarks, locations, and environmental information at indoor and outdoor accident locations.
- Witness statements: We review available witness testimony and seek additional witnesses. Testimony is more believable when presented by an unbiased third party.
- Official reports: We gather police, EMT, and other official reports that search for key post-accident details and police officers’ opinions on negligence and fault.
- Medical records: We obtain deceased victims’ hospitalization, injury, and treatment details to establish the damage aspect of our clients’ survival actions.
- Product testing: When a case involves a potential product defect, we push to obtain the product for testing before the manufacturers can take control.
- Formal discovery: When a defendant’s evidence proves difficult to retrieve, we seek to obtain it through interrogatories, depositions, and formal document requests.
We use the evidence gained in our informal and formal investigations to solidify our liability theories and pinpoint other negligent parties. When a corporate defendant is involved, additional negligent parties often include employers or subcontractors who are statutorily or contractually responsible.
Our case evaluations often involve a damage assessment. Each wrongful death case’s value is based on the decedent’s life and personal circumstances. To complete our case evaluations, we attempt to learn as much as we possibly can about a decedent’s family, career, income, activities, lifestyle, and future.
Insurance companies: After we file a wrongful death lawsuit on our clients’ behalf, an insurance company often controls the defense and settlement. By the time a lawsuit works its way through the legal process, the involved parties have enough information to assess liability and damages. Even in instances where liability and damages are clear, minimizing claim payouts is often an insurance company’s primary goal.
Insurance companies also realize that litigating a lawsuit can be costly for a plaintiff’s law firm. Thus, the companies sometimes push a case through discovery, hoping that the plaintiff will settle for a low figure rather than go to trial. In some cases, an insured’s policy limits aren’t high enough to pay the damages, so the insurance company offers few reasonable settlement options.
Self-insured entities: Some major corporate defendants, such as large trucking companies and industrial operations, self-insure their liability interests. As any paid damages come from their own funds, they are often overly conservative during settlement negotiations.
Before a trial, plaintiffs and defendants have opportunities to resolve cases through alternative dispute resolution (ADR). Mediation is an ADR negotiation process facilitated by an expert third party. Plaintiffs and defendants present some of their case information in a neutral environment. The process doesn’t always end with a settlement. However, it often brings the parties closer, makes them more cooperative, and eventually makes settlement possible.
Attorneys resolve many cases outside of a courtroom, but sometimes a trial is the only solution. Defendants and insurance companies sometimes choose to present their evidence before a judge and jury for several reasons.
- Defendants and their insurers believe that they have legitimate defenses to the wrongful death allegations.
- They feel a jury will render a lower verdict than the plaintiff’s settlement demand.
- They believe that they can defend a case based on damages, as their evidence indicates the alleged fatal injuries didn’t occur during the incident.
We Prepare Our Cases to Win
At the Patel Firm PLLC, our attorneys rely on their personal injury and litigation experience to deliver results. Our team conducts comprehensive investigations to recognize each case’s legal and damage issues. We prepare our clients’ cases from day one to withstand conservative negotiation strategies, legal challenges, and creative defenses. We always prepare our cases to win.
Call Our Corpus Christi Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
If you believe someone else’s negligent act caused your loved one’s death, you must take immediate action. From the moment we accept our clients’ cases, the Patel Firm PLLC works to protect their rights. We’d like the opportunity to recover wrongful death damages to which your family is legally entitled. We realize that a settlement can’t replace your loved one; however, it can help you endure the financial changes that occur when you lose his or her love and support.
Call us at (361) 400-2036 or complete our contact form. We’ll schedule a free consultation, learn more about your case, and determine if we can help you.
FAQ’S about Wrongful Death and Survival Actions
Q: How do wrongful death or survival actions occur?
A: Sadly, there are a number of different acts of negligence that can result in a wrongful death and survival action. Death caused by a car accident, including death caused by drunk driving accidents, or death caused by distracted driving accidents, as well as death caused by an Oil Rig/Refinery Accidents, or death after a catastrophic injury, are all events that can lead to a wrongful death or survival action case.
Q: Who can bring a wrongful death claim in Texas?
A: The following parties can bring a wrongful death claim in the State of Texas: Parents, children, and spouses, of the deceased party, are eligible to bring a wrongful death claim in the State of Texas. If you are not sure if you qualify to make a wrongful death claim, contact an injury attorney in Corpus Christi, Texas at The Patel Firm PLLC for a free consultation to determine your options.
Q: What is the difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival action?
A: Though they are similar, survival actions and wrongful death actions are actually different claims. A survival action can be made by an eligible party when the deceased survived their initial injury from the accident, but ultimately were unable to survive. A wrongful death claim, on the other hand, is brought if the deceased died immediately as a result of the accident. To determine what time of claim or action you may have, speak with a skilled attorney.
Q: What should I bring to my consultation with a wrongful death lawyer in Texas?
A: Information about your loved one, as well as the death certificate, and a police report if available, are important documents for a Texas accident lawyer to review when determining if they can help you. If you do not have these documents yet, a qualified wrongful death injury lawyer can help you attain them.
Q: What kind of damages can a wrongful death beneficiary be awarded?
A: When compensating a wrongful death beneficiary, there are a number of important factors that are taken into consideration. The following is a list of common things that are considered: the deceased’s profession, their financial prospects had they lived, the role the deceased played in the beneficiaries life, and the medical bills of the deceased as a result of the incident that leads to their death.