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
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 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.
Don’t hire just any attorney!
Do not mistakenly hire just any attorney. Often, we receive calls from families dissatisfied with the inaction on their case from the attorney they chose. Sometimes the attorneys are not experienced in wrongful death or survival lawsuits. Sometimes the attorneys are so high-volume they cannot dedicate the time and money needed to develop the case. Other times, the attorneys may not have the essential experience in the type of case.
We have been helping Texas families who have lost a loved one for over 35 years. Call us at 281-587-1111 to see if we may be able to help your family.