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Wrongful Death Lawsuits In Houston, TX
What Are Punitive Damages?
Learn About The Baumgartner Law Firm
Our nationally recognized Houston wrongful death lawyers help families who have lost a loved one. We have never lost a wrongful death case!
We have been protecting Texas family’s financial futures by winning maximum compensation in Texas wrongful death cases for decades and have countless multi-million dollar victories.
The Baumgartner Law Firm limits its cases to serious injury or fatal accidents. We are not a high-volume firm. Instead, we limit our cases in order to provide the best representation to the clients we help. Call us at (281) 587-1111 for a FREE consultation or fill out an online consultation request.
table of contents
Table of Contents
Why Hire an Attorney After a Fatal Accident?
When you are dealing with the grief and pain from your loss, the last thing on your mind would be trying to hire an attorney. Yet, that is what you should immediately consider. Retaining a wrongful death law firm allows them to investigate the accident. Frequently, the best lawyers hire investigators and other expert witnesses to nail down the facts and to also be in a position to promptly move forward with a lawsuit seeking civil justice for the death of your loved one.
Essential Considerations After A Fatality
- Identifying potential defendants who may be legally responsible for the fatality.
- Documenting the financial or economic losses and the impact on the family from the loss.
- The location and potential courts where a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed.
- Negotiating with the defendant’s insurance companies to protect the financial future of the family.
- Documenting each person’s relationship with the deceased.
The Leading Causes of Fatal Accidents
In the Houston area, there are over 640 fatal car accidents a year. Many of these accidents involve drunk drivers, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Drunk driving is just one example of a situation that can cause wrongful death. When a loved one dies, families can suffer real harm, especially if the family member was a primary financial provider.
While settlements after a fatality cannot bring back the family member, a case against the at-fault person or entity can compensate for the family’s loss. Often, a civil lawsuit is the only real justice available to a family after death.
A death caused by the negligence of others can be the basis for a possible wrongful death lawsuit.
Common Accidents – Texas Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death claim must prove that the defendant’s negligence was a cause of death (there can be more than one cause). The claim is available only to family members such as parents, children, and spouses.
Different types of accidents may have different ways of proving negligence.
For example, a dangerous product case may be based on a design defect or a manufacturing defect. A design defect is a condition that makes the product unreasonably dangerous, considering the use of the product and the risks of its use. To prevail on a design defect claim, the plaintiffs (the survivors of the deceased family member) must show a safer alternative design. Wrongful death cases involving dangerous products are complex and always require an experienced attorney.
Car wrecks are the leading causes of fatal accidents.case. In a car accident fatality lawsuit, the negligence of the other driver is the basis for the case. This negligence can be running a red light, following too closely and rear-ending the deceased, or driving drunk and causing the wreck. Drunk driving accidents can involve a bar or club as a defendant. If the bar knowingly observed the drunk driver, they might have a legal responsibility for the death. The case against a bar or club is called a dram shop lawsuit. We have won many million dollar wrongful death cases against bars in Texas. A car accident wrongful death case is the most common type of case in Texas.
An accident with a big truck is a type of wrongful death case wherein we frequently represent families. The negligence of the truck driver for not following traffic rules or the laws that apply to truck drivers is usually a part of the claim. Also, the trucking company may not have trained the driver or enforced trucking safety rules. We have also sued manufacturers of the big rigs and companies that improperly loaded the vehicles, maintenance companies, and others.
Sadly, we also helped families who have lost a child in a daycare accident. Failing to properly supervise the children is usually part of the basis for this claim.
Surviving family members should speak with an attorney about their case and the standards they must meet to establish liability. Only spouses, parents, and children of the deceased loved one may bring wrongful death claims in Texas.
To talk directly with an attorney with over three decades of experience in winning big settlements in wrongful death cases- call (281) 587-1111– there is never a charge for an initial case consultation.
Common Wrongful Death Questions
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death case is prosecuted by a surviving family member as a civil action. A wrongful death lawsuit is separate from any criminal charges that may be pending. A family may have input with the District Attorney on how a criminal case may proceed. But the criminal charges for the death of a family member are in the hands of the authorities and not the family.
A wrongful death claim seeks to compensate the family with damages for the loss of their loved one by a civil claim or lawsuit. If the case is won, the family receives damages determined by a jury or the family agreeing to a settlement. The civil suit for wrongful death is independent of any criminal charges.
A wrongful death claim can arise from many different types of cases. Car and big truck accidents or any other accident or incident that resulted from a negligent act can give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death lawsuits can include more than just another driver. Companies, employers, product manufacturers, and others could be a part of a wrongful death lawsuit if they were wholly or partly responsible for the family member’s death.
Is Wrongful Death a Crime?
No. Wrongful death cases are civil and about holding wrongdoers accountable for money damages. Wrongful death lawsuits are filed by lawyers hired by family members to sue for damages. The defendant may be charged with a crime by authorities, but the criminal case is different from the family’s civil damages case.
Can Brothers or Sisters File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Not in Texas. The only people who have the right to bring a wrongful death case in Texas are spouses, children, and parents. If the victim lived after the accident, a survival claim might exist. A survival claim is brought by the estate of the victim, which might include a brother or sister.
How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Case?
Each Texas wrongful death case must meet these four elements to be successful. Consulting an experienced wrongful death law firm is the first step. To win a wrongful death case, the plaintiffs must prove someone did something wrong that caused the death of their loved one. Legally showing that the person or company:
Owed a Duty to the Deceased. This could be a company that should have protected its employee. Another motorist should have followed a traffic law or any other circumstances.
Breach of That Duty. Meaning the person or company was bound to act one way to avoid the accident but did not. This may be like a person running a red light and crashing into the victim.
Caused the Death. The death had to be caused by the failure of the defendants. An example could be an auto accident that killed the person. But if later on the deceased died of unrelated causes and not the accident, a personal injury case may be filed, but a wrongful death case would be doubtful. Expert testimony of physicians or pathologists is usually used in wrongful death lawsuits to establish the cause of death.
Damages of the Family. Each family member who is entitled to bring a wrongful death claim have their damages assessed based upon their losses for the loss of their loved one. A wrongful death case is essentially valuing the losses of the family member.
Our firm has been protecting the financial future of Texas families for over three decades. We have never lost a wrongful death case.
Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Taxable?
Generally, no. There can be exceptions, but the personal losses sustained by the death of a loved one are usually not taxable. Exceptions can be for loss of income claims or if a jury awards punitive damage. Consult with an experienced attorney about your particular case and claims.
What Does a Wrongful Death Lawyer Do?
After being hired by a family member, the first thing a wrongful death attorney does is investigate the case. The sooner the lawyer can start the investigation, the better the chances of getting the needed evidence. Investigations will vary depending on the cause of the death. For a truck accident investigation, inspecting the vehicles, obtaining the computer data, documenting the scene, and more are part of the inquiry. For product liability, the investigation will be about the product, prior claims, and safer alternatives.
On top of the investigation, your lawyer should act as your spokesman, advocate, and champion dealing with the defendants and their insurance companies. If negotiations are not successful, your attorney should take your case to a jury to determine fault or damages.
Experience matters in wrongful death cases. The more expertise your attorney has, the better for you!
Which Relatives are Allowed to Sue After a Fatal Accident?
The law establishes which persons may be entitled to compensation for loss or injury. It is always wise for any family member of a person who has been severely injured or killed in an accident to contact a wrongful death lawyer immediately after the accident to evaluate the matter and determine which family members may be entitled to compensation.
In Texas, that is generally, the spouse, parents, and children of the deceased. Call us at (281) 587-1111 to discuss a wrongful death claim on your behalf.
How is the Value of a Wrongful Death Case Established?
It is impossible to place a monetary value on the life of a loved one. Nothing can be done to bring them back. Despite this, the law allows for certain damages for the loss of a loved one in some cases. For a free consultation with a Houston wrongful death lawyer, call or contact us today and we will explain the legal recovery process in detail.
What Wrongful Death Damages Can You Get?
Two actions surviving family members may be able to pursue after an individual’s death:
Survival actions can recover damages where the loved one survived the accident and later passed away from his injuries. Survival cases address compensation on behalf of the decedent, such as pain and mental anguish, medical expenses, and funeral and burial expenses.
Wrongful death cases are claims family members bring for their personal loss from the death of their loved one. Some examples of wrongful death damages include:
- Pecuniary losses – These are the losses family members endure such as loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, and any contribution that the family member, in reasonable probability, would have received from the decedent.
- Loss of companionship and society – This refers to the family losing love, comfort, and companionship because of death.
- Mental anguish – This refers to the emotional pain and suffering a family member experiences because of the death of a loved one.
- Loss of inheritance – This is the present value of assets the decedent would have left to a family member as part of his or her estate.
Punitive or exemplary damages may be available sometimes, but only where the death was caused by a “willful act or omission or gross negligence of the defendant.” (Tex. Civ. Code Title 4 Sec. 71.009).
We have won many huge settlements for families who have lost a loved one. Check out our results page for some recent examples.
Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Cases
Wrongful death damages are based on the personal relationship of each immediate family member with the loss of their loved one. Parents, children, and spouses each have a claim under the wrongful death law in Texas. The value of each wrongful death beneficiary’s claim is based on their relationship with the deceased.
Generally, spouses have the most extensive damages followed by minor children, then adult children, and finally, parents. However, each case is independent, and a Texas judge or jury will hear evidence of the relationship and the human and economic losses of each person.
Survival claims differ from wrongful death cases. Survival claims relate to the personal injuries of the deceased before they died. In Texas, a survival claim is the personal injury claim of the deceased before death. A survival case is viewed from the perspective of the deceased as for damages.
It is the estate of the deceased, which sues for survival damages. The estate would distribute the damages received to the proper heirs.
Who Can File a Lawsuit for A Survival Claim in Texas?
Survival claims are filed by close family members or by a representative of the estate. A survival lawsuit can also be brought by someone appointed by a probate court to sue on behalf of the estate.
What are the differences between wrongful death and a survival case?
A wrongful death lawsuit requires a legal heir for a valid claim to be made. This is a parent, a child, or a spouse. If there is no legitimate heir, then a wrongful death lawsuit would not be proper in Texas. This is because wrongful death lawsuits in Texas compensate the immediate family for their own loss.
However, in a survival case, it is the damages of the deceased valued by a judge or jury in Texas. Therefore, a person brings the claim to get damages that the deceased could recover had he lived.
What Are Survival Claim Damages?
In Texas, a survival lawsuit values the damages of the deceased as if they had survived. It is similar to a personal injury case brought by the deceased through another person. Typical damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of household services
- Exemplary damages (punitive damages)
- Other legal damages.
To bring a survival lawsuit, you must be prepared to show that you may bring the case on behalf of the estate.
Your choice of an attorney is vital in both survival lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits. Selecting an attorney with a track record of winning significant settlements and successfully handling wrongful death litigation should be a priority.
Wrongful death cases and survival cases handled by the Baumgartner Law Firm are done so on a contingency fee basis. If we don’t recover money for you, you pay us nothing.
Please call us for a no-obligation consultation at 281-587-1111.
What is the Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
It is very tempting to put off retaining an attorney for your wrongful death claim until right before the statute of limitations has run, especially when dealing with the terrible grief that comes from losing a family member. Here is more information about filing a wrongful death case in Texas. We suggest that you do not delay in retaining a qualified wrongful death lawyer after the accident.
Delaying the hiring of an attorney makes proving the case more difficult. The longer the time after the accident, the more difficult it becomes to gather needed evidence. Waiting makes it harder to locate witnesses. Significant evidence such as “black box” or computer data may be destroyed or lost. And, identifying responsible parties at the last minute can be risky.
Also, for professional reasons, many top-notch personal injury law firms do not accept cases right before the statute of limitations. Waiting can reduce the quality of the law firm you might eventually get to handle the case.
Fatal Case Evaluations
Over the last three decades, we have helped many families get through the emotional trauma of losing a loved one. We understand the trauma of the unexpected death of a family member.
Sometimes the shock can be disabling. Our goal is to make the process as worry-free as possible. We are happy to meet with you or speak with you on the phone about the process, next steps, and answer any questions you have.
We will also evaluate the case to determine whether it is appropriate for our law firm to accept and handle the case on your behalf.
Although challenging, you must act reasonably quickly after the accident to have a qualified attorney investigate the case.
- Filing a Wrongful Death Case in Texas
- What is The Difference Between a Personal Injury and a Wrongful Death Case in Texas?
- Can I File a Lawsuit on Behalf of a Loved One Who Died in an Accident?
- How Long Do Wrongful Death Lawsuits Take?
- How Much are Wrongful Death Settlements?
- How to Value Your Car When It’s a Total Loss
- Wrongful Death Lawsuits
- What Are Punitive Damages?
- Why Should You Hire a Real Trial Lawyer?
- Learn About The Baumgartner Law Firm
“Without reservations I highly recommend him”
The lawyers at Baumgartner Law Firm never charge for consultations about a wrongful death accident. If we can help you with your case, we do so at no out of pocket cost to you.
Contact A HoustonWrongful Death Attorney