Losing a loved one through the negligent actions of another is both heartbreaking and aggravating. No one can place a dollar value on the life of your loved one. But the law has provisions for the surviving relatives of victims of wrongful deaths. In these challenging times, a Houston wrongful death attorney can guide you through the murky process of wrongful death insurance claims and lawsuits.
The benefits of a Houston wrongful death attorney cannot be oversimplified. But first, let’s talk about the meaning of wrongful death and what may lead to that.
What Exactly Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is when someone else’s negligence causes a person’s death. Wrongful death claims allow a victim’s family to file a legal action against the at-fault party. The purpose of this legal action is for the victim’s family to recover the losses and financial expenses caused by the death of their loved one. The loss can include loss of household support, funeral expenses, and loss of income, to name a few.
Most Common Causes of Wrongful Deaths
Wrongful death doesn’t have to be murder. There are many causes of wrongful death. Here is a list of the most common causes of wrongful death in Texas.
Car accidents are among the most common causes of wrongful death in Houston, Texas. The negligence of the at-fault driver, such as speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence, and distracted driving cause most auto accidents. And in such accidents, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will usually pay for the compensation.
Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or other health care professional, through negligence or omission, causes an injury or death to a patient.
Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel are very skilled and highly experienced professionals. Still, sometimes they make mistakes, or outright negligence can cause the death of a patient. The question is, what constitutes medical malpractice? Below are typical examples of medical malpractice that can cause wrongful death.
- Misdiagnosis of disease
- Failure to diagnose a disease
- Unnecessary surgery
- Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
- Surgical errors
- Error in prescribing medicine
- Birth injuries
- Failure to order proper testing
- Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history
Accidents at Work
Some occupations have a higher risk of death, such as construction work, derrick operators in oil, gas, and mining, and many others. Wrongful death can also happen in the least expected places, such as the office. An employee may lose his life because of a colleague’s negligence or dangerous working conditions. Suppose an employer forces an employee to work long hours. In that case, it may cause a fatal car accident due to exhaustion. Other workplace accidents can also cause severe injuries that may lead to death.
Manufacturers spend hours and immense sums of money on product design and testing to ensure it is safe for the public to use. But sometimes, after all these tests, their product’s usage may cause a user’s death. The cause of wrongful death from a defective product may include defective pharmaceutical products, toxic foods, or mechanical malfunctioning of an automobile.
Premises liability is when a person is injured on public or private property because of the property manager’s negligence in maintaining a safe environment or failure to implement proper safety protocols.
Common causes of wrongful death at these places include:
- Dog bites
- Drowning in a pool
Automobile drivers owe a duty of care under the law to respect other road users. A driver failing to follow traffic laws can cause pedestrian accidents. Accidents that involve pedestrians can easily lead to death because pedestrians rarely have protection. The most frequent cause of pedestrian accidents is driver negligence.
Semi-truck accidents are usually more dangerous than other auto accidents. This is because semi-trucks are extremely heavy compared to passenger vehicles. The average semi-truck weighs between 10,000 – 35,000 with an empty trailer. The maximum weight allowed in the United States for a tractor-trailer is 80,000 pounds. So, you can imagine the force it will exert on a small car.
The causes of a semi-truck accident may include mechanical failure, poor truck driver training, oversized loads, aggressive driving, driving while fatigued, and speeding.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim in Houston, Texas?
When a person’s negligence causes the death of another, the relatives have the right to file a legal action for the wrongful death of their loved one. However, not everyone can file for wrongful death. The following are people who can file for wrongful death.
- Surviving spouse, minor children, or parents
- Dependent blood relatives
- Adoptive siblings
- Parents of minor children
- Adult children, if there is no spouse
- Children born out of wedlock to a mother, but not children born out of wedlock to the father unless the father has recognized responsibility for the child’s support
The unmarried partner of a deceased person is not eligible to receive any compensation. When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, we highly recommend consulting with a Houston wrongful death attorney to help you through the legal process.
Types of Damages You May get in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
No amount of money can bring back your loved one, but fair compensation can at least help you cope with some of the stress. Working with an experienced Houston wrongful death attorney will help you understand the type of damages you are eligible for and how you can maximize the financial compensation you receive. The three main types of damages the surviving relatives can receive are economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages refer to the compensation the deceased person’s relatives offer for verifiable monetary losses. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses before the person’s death
- Burial expenses
- Loss of future income
- Loss of inheritance
- Property damages
Non-economic damages are compensations offered for subjective, non-monetary losses. An experienced Houston wrongful death attorney will include the following in the insurance claim:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of quality of life
- Mental pain and suffering
The court awards punitive damages explicitly for punishment to deter intentional or reckless behavior, or malicious actions. Punitive damages are neither economic nor non-economic damages. The purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate a victim’s family but to punish the negligent party so that a similar situation will be less likely to happen in the future.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death in Houston, Texas?
Wrongful death can start as a serious injury, or it could be an instant death of a person caused by the unlawful actions of another person. Whatever the case, the surviving relative must establish a claim for wrongful death. They will have to prove:
- The person has died
- The deceased person died because of another person’s negligent actions
- The loss harms the surviving family of the deceased
- The surviving relatives have suffered financial losses because of the death
To the untrained person, proving these points in court or to the insurance company can be a challenge. That’s why it’s advisable to employ the services of an established Houston wrongful death attorney.
It’s vital to note that Texas has a statute of limitations on wrongful death cases. The surviving relative must file a criminal death case within two years of the incident. You may lose the right to recover compensation if you file later than that, so make sure to begin the process as soon as you can.
Reasons To Hire a Houston Wrongful Death Attorney To Represent You
The wrongful death of a loved one can cause emotional trauma. During this confusing time, gathering the information needed to secure a fair financial settlement from the responsible party’s insurance company can be tricky. A Houston wrongful death attorney has the skill and experience to navigate these situations.
What benefits would you get from working with our experienced Houston wrongful death attorneys?
We Can Uncover Critical Pieces of Evidence
You need concrete evidence to establish wrongful death and the negligent party that caused the death. Your Houston wrongful death attorney will look for:
- The police report, if there is one
- Medical records linking the cause of death with the accident
- CCTV recordings
- Expert witnesses
We Can Negotiate Out Of Court Or Take Your Case To Trial
After gathering all the evidence and establishing the at-fault party, we’ll file a compensation claim. Once we have filed the claim, we will negotiate fair financial compensation for economic and non-economic losses. We’ll file a wrongful death lawsuit if the negotiation settlement is unsatisfactory.
Hire Experienced Houston Wrongful Death Attorney
Our goal is to offer tailor-made legal services to each client. We aim to give voices to victims of wrongful death who can not state their cases and secure a financial future for their bereaved families.
If you’ve lost a loved one because of the actions of a negligent person, call us today and see if our personal injury lawyers can help.