Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer
Table of Contents
- What Exactly Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
- What Common Situations Typically Give Rise to Houston Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
- Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action in Houston?
- What Damages Are Available in a Houston Wrongful Death Claim?
- What Should Be Proven in Houston Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
- What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Houston?
- Can Surviving Family Members File a Wrongful Death Claim Against the Government?
- How Could a Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer Help With My Claim?
- Reach Out to a Skilled Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Absolutely nothing could be more traumatizing and devastating than a loved one suddenly dying. There are just no actions or words that could fully comfort a grieving person after a loved one’s sudden passing, most especially if your loved one was killed because of another individual’s negligent actions.
Fatal injuries could occur in a wide range of catastrophic accidents, such as motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, slip and falls, pedestrian accidents, and defective products, among others. Although the emotional trauma and pain are tough to bear, you should not let the death of your loved one just pass without justice. Pursuing a wrongful death claim could help make sure that you get the justice and compensation your family deserves for your losses.
When an unthinkable thing happens, such as a loved one suddenly dying, we know how difficult it could be to determine what to do and where to turn. But know that our competent and compassionate Houston wrongful death lawyers at The Patel Firm PLLC can give you proper guidance and insight into your situation. In the meantime, this page can help you learn more about wrongful death claims in Houston.
If you were hurt due to another individual’s wrongful, reckless, or negligent actions, you can recover damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, a personal injury claim does not help in a situation where an individual was killed due to another individual’s negligence. In this devastating situation, family members of the deceased individual can pursue a wrongful death action.
According to Texas law, a wrongful death action is a civil tort, which gives particular surviving family members the right to hold people and entities, such as businesses or government agencies, legally liable for unintentional or intentional actions that resulted in their family member’s untimely death.
Wrongful death actions could arise in various circumstances, such as the following types of accidents if they cause death to a person.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Based on the Texas Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Facts Report, in 2020:
- 3,896 people died in motor vehicle crashes, and at least one person died every single day in a motor vehicle accident in Texas.
- A person died every two hours and 15 minutes.
- One reportable crash happens every one minute and seven seconds.
- One person sustained injury every two minutes and 34 seconds.
- 12,107 crashes that resulted in serious injury occurred, and 14,656 people sustained serious injuries.
- 205,498 people sustained injuries in motor vehicle collisions.
- 482 motorcyclists, including passengers, were killed, and 45% of them were not wearing helmets during the accident.
- 958 persons died in drunk driving motor vehicle accidents, which accounts for 25% of all persons who died in motor vehicle traffic accidents.
- Most drunk driving accidents were reported between 2 AM and 2:59 AM, and most of them occurred during Saturdays.
- 368 people died in accidents due to distracted driving.
- June 21st, August 14th, and December 28th were the deadliest days, with 22 people killed in motor vehicle collisions.
- The deadliest month was October, in which 382 people died due to motor vehicle accidents.
Employers are legally liable to ensure that their employees work in a safe environment. But this does not always happen. An employer’s failure to provide safe working conditions could be especially problematic and even deadly in inherently hazardous industries, which include the construction industry and oil and gas industries, among others.
Biking has become increasingly popular in Texas roadways. Unfortunately, this rise in popularity has likewise resulted in bicycle accident deaths. In 2020, 82 people were killed in crashes that involved bicyclists. Like pedestrians, bicyclists don’t have adequate protection during accidents, which is why bicycle-motor vehicle accidents usually result in severe injuries or deaths to bicyclists.
Responsible product manufacturers take the necessary steps to make certain that all the products they develop and release are safe for consumers. On the other hand, numerous defective products still get released every year, some causing injury or death to many people. Common defective products that could result in wrongful death include various pharmaceutical drugs, chemical products, motor vehicles, and children’s toys.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 731 pedestrians lost their lives on Texas roads in 2020. Because pedestrians are on foot and are completely unprotected, most pedestrian-motor vehicle traffic accidents could lead to serious injuries or deaths.
People trust doctors and other medical care providers with one of the most vital things in their lives—their health. But, it’s also important to remember that medical care providers are also humans that could sometimes make mistakes. However, when a medical mistake results in a patient’s death, a claim for wrongful death arises. Common medical mistakes related to medical malpractice claims resulting in wrongful death include surgical errors, misdiagnosis, and improper or delayed treatments.
Truck accidents are among the most devastating motor vehicle accidents because they typically result in serious and life-changing injuries or death. Based on a 2020 TxDOT report:
- There were 513 fatal truck accidents.
- 580 were killed in truck accidents.
- 1,245 people were seriously injured, and 7,342 people had suspected or non-incapacitating injuries.
If a family member has suffered fatal injuries from one of these kinds of deadly occurrences or accidents that were caused by another individual’s negligent acts, the experienced legal team of The Patel Firm PLLC can help. Our Houston wrongful death lawyer can review the circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one to determine whether it’s within your rights to file a wrongful death action.
Under Texas law, only the following individuals could pursue a wrongful death action:
- The deceased individual’s surviving spouse
- The deceased individual’s children, including legally adopted children if the decedent is the children’s adoptive parent
- The decedent’s parents, including adoptive parents
In Texas and most states, grandparents, siblings, and other distant relatives are not allowed to pursue wrongful death actions. Likewise, if the decedent’s surviving family members failed to bring a wrongful death action within three months of the decedent’s death, the administrator, executor, or personal representative of the decedent’s estate could file the claim. However, this will only be allowed if the surviving family members that can file the claim specifically request that they do not want to file a wrongful death claim.
In successful wrongful death claims, damages, which are the losses of the plaintiffs, will be awarded to the decedent’s surviving children, spouse, or parents as compensation for losses due to their loved one’s death. Damages typically compensate for a variety of losses, such as:
- Lost earning capacity or income
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost support, care, maintenance, advice, support, counsel, and services the decedent would have provided their surviving loved ones
- Lost love, society, comfort, and companionship
- Mental anguish and pain of the surviving loved ones
- Lost inheritance, which includes what the decedent would’ve probably saved and passed on to surviving loved ones had the decedent lived.
Additionally, punitive damages, commonly known as exemplary damages, may be awarded in wrongful death claims. But this usually applies if the death occurred to another individual’s gross negligence or willful omission or act, which means that the main purpose of awarding exemplary damages is to punish the negligent individual and deter other individuals from behaving in similar ways instead of compensating surviving families for the loss of their loved ones.
When surviving loved ones pursue a wrongful death action, they essentially need to prove liability for their loved one’s death. For example, if your loved one died in a motor vehicle crash, you must prove that the crash resulted from someone else’s negligence, like another driver or the manufacturer of the liable driver’s vehicle. Likewise, your Houston wrongful death lawyer will need to prove the following wrongful death elements:
- Your loved one’s death is directly related to or resulted from the exact incident specified in your wrongful death claim.
- Your loved one’s death was a result of the defendant’s intentional or negligent actions.
- Your family or your deceased loved one’s estate has been negatively affected by your loved one’s death.
- Your deceased loved one’s estate or your family has faced financial difficulties due to your loved one’s wrongful and preventable death.
In Texas, the statute of limitations for filing wrongful death lawsuits is two years, meaning that you need to file your wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the death of your loved one. There are, however, several exceptions to the standard two-year filing deadline. For instance, if a minor child’s parents were killed, the two-year time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit does not begin upon the parents’ death and will only begin when the child turns 18 years old.
Furthermore, the filing deadline will likewise be extended if the death was not discovered to have been caused by negligence until later. For example, if your loved one died and you only discovered years later that the death resulted from a defective drug, the filing deadline may be extended and will start at the date you found out about the defective drug and not the date your loved one actually died.
In Texas and most states, the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity does not apply in wrongful death claims. Sovereign immunity forbids lawsuits against government entities unless the state specifically waives this protection, meaning that surviving family members have the right to pursue wrongful death actions against government agencies in Texas.
For example, you can file a wrongful death claim against the government agency responsible for the upkeep of a public swimming pool where a loved one died. Similarly, you can sue the government agency responsible for maintaining the malfunctioning traffic lights or road defects that caused or contributed to the motor vehicle accident that claimed the life of your loved one.
However, it’s immensely vital to note that there are strict requirements and rules for lawsuits against government entities, so make sure to discuss your case with an experienced Houston wrongful death lawyer immediately.
Whether you lost your loved one due to another person’s intentional or negligent actions, the loss your family is feeling is definitely heartbreaking. While going through the grieving process, you will probably find the entire process of filing a wrongful death claim immensely overwhelming. But you do not have to handle the claim on your own.
A skilled Houston wrongful death lawyer will provide you guidance and necessary support for your family after losing your loved one in a devastating accident. Your lawyer can focus fully on your case, gather all the evidence required to build a solid case, and handle all communications with the liable parties.
Handing over your case to a lawyer will alleviate the unnecessary burden of muddling through the legal aspects of your claim and allow you to spend more of your time grieving your loved one and healing.
While nothing could ever bring back your loved one, seeking proper compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit could reduce your family’s emotional and financial burden. The Patel Firm PLLC has fought hard for families across Texas to give them the justice and financial compensation they truly deserve.
To get in touch with our Houston wrongful death lawyer and schedule a free consultation of your claim, you can fill out our online contact form or call us at 361-400-2036. You can learn more about the wrongful death laws in Texas and help you with every single aspect of your case to ensure that you get compensated fairly for your losses.