Houston Wrongful Death Accident Lawyers
Car accidents can damage more than just vehicles. Sometimes, wrecks destroy lives forever.
More than 3,500 people die in car accidents in Texas every year. Often, these accidents involve speeding or drunk drivers.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, you may be eligible for a wrongful death case. With sorrow and grief at the forefront of your mind, we understand you may hesitate to involve a lawyer.
But real closure requires real justice.
By taking legal action, you may be able to receive compensation while holding negligent drivers accountable.
If you are feeling lost, stranded, and overwhelmed, we are here for you. During this trying time, a Houston wrongful death lawyer will treat you with the compassion, respect, and sensitivity you deserve.
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According to Texas Statutes section 71.001, wrongful death is legally defined as the death of a person due to the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, or unskillfulness” of another person or entity.
Wrongful death claims apply in many cases where a death was caused by negligence. This includes drunk driving accidents, distracted driving accidents, semi truck accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, dangerous medication, unsafe workplace settings, or even murder.
When careless individuals or entities cause the death of a human being, surviving family members have a right to hold them accountable. While all states permit wrongful death claims, some details vary from state to state.
Below we answer some common questions surrounding wrongful death claims. If you are in need of more guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Houston wrongful death lawyer now. We’re here for you.
Texas Wrongful Death Claims FAQ
What Are the Most Common Causes of Fatal Car Crashes?
Deadly car crashes are tragic – and they’re often caused by careless drivers. According to recent statistics, the leading causes of fatal car accidents in America include:
- Speeding: Someone’s impatience could cost you your life. Speeding is the leading cause of deadly motor vehicle accidents – about 17% of all fatal car accidents involved speeding drivers.
- Alcohol and drug impairment: When someone is under the influence and behind the wheel, they endanger everyone around them. Inebriated drivers account for about 11% of all deadly wrecks.
- Failure to stay in a lane or yield the right-of-way: Swerving, weaving, and other erratic driving behaviors can cause fatal car accidents. These contribute to more than 7% of all fatal car accidents in the country.
- Distracted driving: A text you send on the road could be your last. Nearly 6% of all deadly auto crashes involve at least one distracted motorist.
- Not wearing seatbelts: Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of injury and death in a car accident. Buckle up for this fact: nearly HALF of all people killed in motor vehicle accidents were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of their collision.
In some cases, more than one of these risk factors combine to result in a single deadly wreck. For example, impaired drivers are more likely to ignore speed limits and swerve out of their lane, increasing the risks of accidents.
Who Is At Fault for Wrongful Death Car Accidents?
Fault for deadly car accidents will depend on the causes of those wrecks. In general, those who may be liable for fatal crashes can include (and may not be limited to):
- Other passenger vehicle drivers
- Uber or Lyft drivers
- Delivery truck drivers, like FedEx drivers and UPS drivers
- Trucking companies
- Parties responsible for building and maintaining safe roads
More than one party can be at fault for a single car accident. Identifying every liable party can be the key to getting full compensation from a wrongful death case.
The best way to figure out all parties who may be liable for a given wreck is to meet with our experienced Houston lawyers for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
How Is Negligence Proven in A Wrongful Death Case?
When it comes to determining liability and proving negligence, there are four main points a wrongful death attorney must prove:
- A legal duty was owed. For example, all drivers have a legal duty to operate their vehicles safely and free of impairment.
- The legal duty was violated. For example, if someone drives drunk.
- The breach of duty caused fatal injuries.
- Money was lost. This could mean hospital bills, surgery, funeral expenses, and even loss of inheritance. Of course emotional pain and suffering will also be factored into these losses.
If you don’t act fast, you could lose your ability to recover compensation. Know your rights and ensure they are protected. Speak with a Houston wrongful death lawyer now.
How Is A Wrongful Death Claim Different From A Murder Case?
After some fatal accidents, arrests may be made and criminal charges for homicide may be issued. A criminal conviction can result in the wrongful party being fined and sentenced to prison time.
Those punishments, however, do not help surviving family members pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
Criminal cases do not consider the financial losses a family may have experienced as a result of the death.
Murder charges are brought forth by the state; wrongful death claims are filed by family members.
A wrongful death claim is a civil matter that may exist separately yet concurrently with criminal prosecution, although criminal charges are not a prerequisite for a wrongful death claim. You may still have a viable wrongful death claim even if the party was not convicted. It’s important to explore your options with a wrongful death lawyer.
How Long Do I Have to File A Wrongful Death Claim?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death in Texas is two years. This means the surviving family members are required to file their lawsuit within two years of the decedent’s date of death. If they miss this deadline, they may receive nothing at all. (Note that your case does not have to be fully resolved within 2 years after the date of death; the timeframe only applies to filing the claim and beginning the process.)
Exceptions may apply. For example:
If the plaintiff of the wrongful death lawsuit is a minor child.
If negligence of the named defendants wasn’t known during that 2-year period.
If a mental or physical impairment of the plaintiff prevented filing during the 2-year period.
If fraudulent activity was involved.
If the parents of a child are killed when the child is below the age of 18, the 2-year time window begins when the child turns 18, not on the day of the accident.
Wrongful death lawsuits are complex and difficult to navigate alone. To ensure you meet all important deadlines, get help from a Houston wrongful death attorney.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Car Accident Lawsuit in Texas?
In Texas, wrongful death claims may be filed by certain family members of the deceased person. According to the Texas Wrongful Death Act, only the following people can file a wrongful death claim:
The spouse of the deceased
Adopted or biological children of any age
Adoptive or biological parents
If none of the above parties have filed a wrongful death claim within three months, a representative of the decedent’s estate may file unless the family specifically requests otherwise.
Friends, siblings, and other relatives cannot file.
How Are Survivors Compensated in Wrongful Death Car Accident Cases?
We know you can’t put a price on the life that was lost, but in the event of a loved one’s passing, an avalanche of expenses can come rushing at you.
Damages in a Texas wrongful death claim are monetary awards that aim to ease the financial burdens a death can leave behind. The types of damages awarded in the case will vary depending on many factors, including the decedent’s relationship with the claimant, but there are two main categories of damages that the surviving spouse, child, or parents of the deceased may be entitled to receive.
The first category covers medical expenses, funeral/burial expenses, and the pain and suffering the deceased person endured.
The second category addresses the losses the victim’s surviving loved ones must cope with in the aftermath of the wrongful death. This may include lost earning capacity, lost inheritance, lost support and care, emotional pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. In cases where the victim was the head of a household, the financial hardships are massive. The family can lose its sense of stability and security while trying to process its grief. Wrongful death claims exist to combat this tragic situation.
Wrongful death cases can help cover things like:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Past medical bills for the deceased
- Lost wages the decedent would have earned
- Survivors’ pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Therapy and counseling
Additionally, Texas wrongful death claims may also award punitive damages, which are additional damages that exist only to punish the wrongdoer and discourage repeat offense. Punitive damages are sometimes called exemplary damages, as they exist to make an example out of the defendant. These damages may apply if the death was caused by gross negligence or a willful or severely careless act.
These categories of damages are added together and compensation is awarded to the claimants. However, the law recognizes how death impacts different relatives in different ways. As such, the court will decide the proportion of loss of each family member who brings the claim. The claimants will then divide the damage award up accordingly.
In addition to compensating the family members for their losses, a wrongful death claim may also allow the victim’s estate to recover damages on behalf of the victim. “Survival damages” are damages that the decedent would have been able to recover if they were alive to bring a lawsuit. Survival damages include physical and mental pain and suffering. If a victim survives for a short amount of time but ultimately passes away due to the injuries they sustained in an accident, their medical expenses can also be included.
Every case will be different. Upon hearing the details of your story, a skilled wrongful death attorney can explain your options for pursuing damages.
How Are Wrongful Death Cases Resolved?
The resolution of a wrongful death case involves thorough investigations and complex damage calculations by experienced legal professionals. If an agreement isn’t reached during settlement negotiations, the case goes to court. This lengthy process can increase the time and cost it may take to resolve a case, but it may be necessary when there are disputes over liability or the amount of damages. The final decision will then be up to the jury.
Whether a case ends up in court or not, having our Houston wrongful death lawyers on your side can be your key to success. We fight for you and your family every step of the way and help you stand up to insurance companies. Our team of wrongful death attorneys are skilled at comprehensively presenting cases to juries.
I Want To File A Wrongful Death Car Accident Lawsuit. Where Do I Start?
In this heartbreaking time, it can be hard to know where to turn. Contact our Houston wrongful death attorneys now, and we will take care of everything you need to:
- Begin a case: We will gather all evidence and file all paperwork necessary to get your wrongful death case started.
- Provide guidance and counsel: From discovery and depositions to negotiations and beyond, we are your guides through every step of the legal process. We provide only the highest quality representation and ensure you know your rights, and know they are protected.
- Seek the best possible results: Insurance companies aren’t above taking advantage of families in mourning. We refuse to let them. We fight tirelessly for justice.
We know nothing can ever replace your lost spouse, child, or parent, but the law gives you the right to hold negligent parties accountable.
For real closure, you need real justice.
While dealing with the heartbreak of your loss, you may have a ton of questions about what to do next. You may feel overwhelmed or numb. You may not even know where to start.
We understand, and we’re here to help.
For over 20 years, we’ve represented parents who have lost children, children who have lost parents, and spouses who have lost their partners in life.
If you believe you’ve lost a loved one unjustly, call us as soon as possible. We’re here to listen. All consultations are free, and you pay nothing at all unless we win your case.
Does My Accident Justify Hiring a Houston Wrongful Death Accident Lawyer?
There’s only one way to find out for sure: contact our Houston wrongful death lawyers for a 100% free, zero-obligation case evaluation.
When you’re grieving, legal battles are the last thing you want to think about. Let us take the weight off your shoulders. Don’t enter this battle alone.
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