Pursuing a Lawsuit
The sudden and accidental loss of a loved one is probably the greatest tragedy a family can bear. When wrongful deaths happen, surviving family members are forced to live with devastating fallout, often coping with the fact that if it weren’t for someone else’s carelessness, their loved one might still be alive. The emotional and financial impact can be devastating, especially if the family relied on this loved one’s income. If your family member has been killed by a negligent act, contact an experienced Houston wrongful death lawyer right away for a consultation.
Though pursuing a lawsuit will not replace your loved one, our wrongful death lawyers can ease the financial burden placed on your family by bringing the responsible people or parties to justice. Waiting too long for these emotional losses to lessen before pursuing compensation can severely impair your legal case.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Claim
Since personal injury (tort) law pertains to accidents of all kinds, and any accident can be a fatal one, wrongful death is a natural extension of personal injury law.
Your wrongful death claim may be filed against any person or entity that was legally at fault for your beloved family member’s death, including:
- Medical institutions
- Government institutions
- Companies, including employers.
Once the defendant is identified, there are other essential elements that must be present for a family to have a legal claim for wrongful death:
- The plaintiff is a statutory beneficiary of the deceased family member (a spouse, child, or parent);
- The defendant’s wrongful act caused the death of the family member; and
- The plaintiff (spouse, child, or parent) suffered actual damages from the family member’s untimely death.
HOW WRONGFUL DEATH HAPPENS
If someone willfully or maliciously takes the life of another person, it is typically considered a criminal matter. However, if carelessness, neglect, unskillfulness, or another form of negligence leads to the death of a person, a claim can be brought forward in civil courts. There are many examples of negligence as a cause of another’s death.
For example, if a distracted driver strikes a pedestrian and the injuries result in death, the driver can be held responsible for the damages suffered by the pedestrian and their surviving family members. The driver might not have intended to cause harm, but they were negligent behind the wheel and can be considered liable for their actions.
Another example would be a doctor that fails to provide a reasonable level of care to their patient, and the doctor’s actions or inactions that led to the death of the patient. Likewise, if a medical device causes a patient fatal injury, the manufacturer could be the subject of a wrongful death case if that device was defective.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Spouses, children, and parents are permitted by Texas law to file wrongful death claims. If none of these parties files a claim within three months of the death, the executor or administrator can file a claim unless requested not to by all those individuals.
What Is The STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS For Wrongful Death Claims?
In Texas, a wrongful death claim must typically be filed within two years of the death of the loved one. (Please speak to an attorney about your specific situation in order to understand the exact statute of limitations that applies to your case.) If you believe that your family member lost their life because of someone else’s negligence, it is important to act quickly to maximize the chances of a successful claim.
Wrongful Death Damages A Lawyer Can Pursue
Wrongful Death claims compensate survivors for their losses due to the family member’s death. This compensation is awarded directly to you and your family members, depending on your relationship to the deceased. One family member – usually the spouse – acts as the plaintiff, represents all family members who have “standing,” and then typically shares this award with the other family members. Wrongful death damages can include:
- Family members’ collective emotional pain, mental anguish, and suffering as a result of their loved one’s death
- Loss of the deceased’s income, future earning capacity, and what the deceased would have contributed to all family members
- Loss of inheritance
- The value of lost services provided by the deceased, such as child care, home maintenance, support, advice, and guidance
- Loss of companionship, society, love, and comfort
- Punitive damages in cases where a willful act, omission of preventative action, or gross negligence was found to have caused the tragic accident.
Defendants’ Insurers Aggressively Dispute Wrongful Death Claims and Civil Cases
Because wrongful death claims usually involve much higher damage awards than other personal injury actions, insurance companies will offer the lowest settlement possible and resist all attempts at fair compensation. So it’s important to have a wrongful death lawyer on your side that knows how to deal with insurance companies — one that is known by the insurance industry to be a no-nonsense and tenacious advocate for their client-families.
There are two irrefutable facts about successful wrongful death cases:
- In order to succeed, the underlying personal injury case (car wreck, 18-wheeler accident, medical malpractice, workplace injury, etc.) case must be successfully argued; without a favorable verdict or settlement, you cannot collect any damages arising from a wrongful death. So essentially, your lawyer must win TWO cases.
- Only a lawyer with the experience of handling wrongful death cases in multiple areas of personal injury law can win the amount of damages you and your family deserve.
If your family member has been killed by a negligent act, but you’re unsure about some of the elements of your case, it would be helpful to talk to a wrongful death lawyer to find out what difficulties you may face. The wrongful death attorneys at The Terry Bryant Law Firm do everything possible to ensure your entire family receives the fairest compensation amount available to you. Our attorneys have a wealth of wrongful death legal experience across virtually all types of personal injury. We know how painful it is for your family to face these difficulties day after day in the wake of such a tragic loss. But it must be done.
Contact an Experienced Houston Wrongful Death Attorney
Protect your family from the financial ruin that this tragic loss can cause by not bringing those responsible for the fatal accident to justice. Call the Terry Bryant Law Firm at (800) 444-5000 or fill out a FREE initial consultation form to arrange your free case evaluation.