When a person’s death is caused by the negligent, reckless or malicious conduct of another party, surviving family members can seek justice by pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit. Coping with grief, anger, and sorrow is a tremendous burden; it takes a skilled and compassionate personal injury attorney to help lift that burden.
Sherman Law Firm provides clients in Harris County, Montgeromy County, and the greater Houston area with aggressive legal representation and caring, efficient service. Well-versed in the Texas Wrongful Death Act, our personal injury attorneys know that no amount of money can ever replace a life, yet we believe that responsible parties must be held accountable for a wrongful death. We will offer you comfort and guidance and work tirelessly to help you obtain just compensation.
What is wrongful death in Texas?
Under Texas law, a lawsuit for wrongful death can be filed if the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of one party causes the death of another. To have a valid claim, it is necessary to show that the defendant’s negligence caused or contributed to the death.
In addition, such negligence must be the basis for a potential legal action had the victim lived. In other words, a personal injury lawsuit could have been filed for a wrongful act that resulted in injuries or property damage, such as a car accident, rather than the victim’s death. Finally, to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, one or more survivors must have sustained a loss as a result of the death and there must damages that the deceased person’s estate can recover.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas?
In Texas, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the spouse, children and/or parents of the deceased person on an individual basis or as a group. If a claim is not filed within 3 months of the date of death, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file instead, provided that there is a will and none of the survivors objects to the lawsuit.
In any event, damages that can be recovered by the survivors and the estate include:
- Lost earning capacity
- The value of support, services, and guidance the decedent would have provided to surviving family members
- Lost love, companionship and comfort
- The decedent’s pain and suffering
- Any inheritance surviving family members may have lost
- Medical expenses related to the illness or injury prior to the death
- Funeral and burial expenses
Depending on the circumstances, “exemplary” or “punitive” damages may also be available if the wrongful death is caused by a willful act or omission or by gross negligence. Such damages are intended to punish the responsible party and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
Contact Our Houston Wrongful Death Attorney
Knowing that losing a loved one is a painful experience, our legal team will provide you with legal knowledge, objective insights and the personal attention you deserve. By understanding the circumstances that led to your loved one’s death, we will determine if there are grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Through the years, we have pursued wrongful death claims arising from a wide range of incidents, including:
- Automobile Accidents — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that about 35,000 people are killed in car accidents each year, most of which are caused by driver errors. Fatal car accidents resulting from distracted driving, DWI, speeding, reckless driving, or other traffic violations may be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Truck Accidents — Accidents involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles frequently result in fatalities to the occupants of the smaller vehicle. Depending on the cause of the accident, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed against a negligent truck driver, a trucking company, or both.
- Medical Malpractice — When the negligence of doctors, hospitals or other medical professionals cause or contribute to a patient’s death, they must be held accountable.
To have a valid wrongful death claim, it is necessary to prove that the defendant failed to provide the appropriate standard of care. Examples of negligence include diagnostic errors, surgical errors, anesthesia errors, prescription errors, defective medical equipment, birth injuries, and nursing home abuse.
- Workplace Accidents — Although all workers have a right to a safe environment, construction sites, manufacturing plants, oil and gas facilities, and other occupational environments are inherently dangerous. A wrongful death claim can be filed when safety violations or negligent third parties cause fatal workplace accidents.
- Product Liability — Manufacturers have an obligation to provide the public with safe products. Wrongful death lawsuits often arise when individuals are killed by defective products, such as tools, electronics, appliances and automobiles. Manufacturers and distributors may be held liable for wrongful death when they have manufactured, sold or distributed dangerous or defective products or failed to warn users about the risks associated with their use.
- Violent Crimes — While assault, homicide, and violent crimes may lead to criminal charges, it is also possible to find justice through a wrongful death lawsuit, regardless of whether the defendant is convicted.
When necessary, we will rely on a team of private investigators, and medical and financial experts to demonstrate the defendant’s negligence and to determine the financial losses that can be attributed to the wrongful death. Above all, we will work tirelessly to make sure that the responsible party is held accountable for the death of your loved one so that you can move on with your life. Please reach out by contacting our office to speak with one of our attorneys.
The Sherman Law Firm serves clients in Harris and Montgomery Counties and throughout the Houston area.