Countless scenarios can result in the untimely passing of a loved one, including an illness, such as cancer or a heart attack, or an injury, which can stem from a Houston, TX car accident, use of a dangerous product, or an act of violence. While deaths in these situations may occur at no fault of anyone else, there are other instances in which your loved one might still be here if it weren’t for someone else’s negligent actions. You may have a valid reason to file a wrongful death claim in such situations.
The loss of a loved one can be hard on anyone; however, it can be particularly hard to accept when it occurs prematurely due to someone else’s negligence. For example, the sudden loss of a relative can instantaneously deprive a family of their source of financial support and significantly affect a parent’s sense of enjoyment and quality of life. Filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit here in Houston is contingent upon your ability to prove your case as per Texas law. Let’s delve deeper into what proving a wrongful death case entails.
What Types of Deaths May Be Considered Wrongful?
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code §§ 71.001-71.012 details the Lone Star State’s wrongful death statutes. That series of laws describes how almost any wrongful act, whether arising out of carelessness, neglect, death, or unskillfulness, resulting in a fetus being born dead or an injury resulting in another person’s passing, may constitute wrongful death.
Some examples of situations that may warrant the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Medical malpractice: This may include physician, surgical team, or nursing home staff negligence, pharmaceutical manufacturing or health care professional medication errors, or defective medical device situations.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Many surviving family members file wrongful death lawsuits after a Houston truck collision or passenger car accident. However, pedestrian, bicycle, motorcycle, and mass transit collisions may all result in a relative’s passing and thus warrant filing a Texas wrongful death claim.
- Criminal activity: A motorist who drives while intoxicated, someone who assaults another individual, or anyone else who intentionally acts in a way that violates the law, resulting in a person’s death, may also end up with a wrongful death claim being filed against them here in Texas.
Poorly designed or malfunctioning consumer products and dangerous property conditions may also be attributable to negligence. These scenarios can result in someone dying unexpectedly, also warranting the filing of a Houston wrongful death lawsuit.
How Does a Plaintiff Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?
The Texas statutes outlined above require those wishing to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit to establish the following elements:
- That a duty of care existed: A plaintiff must establish that a prospective defendant had some kind of responsibility to protect the decedent’s wellbeing.
- That the defendant breached their duty of care: Plaintiffs must prove that a defendant not only had a duty of care but breached (violated or didn’t uphold) it.
- Causation: The onus falls on the plaintiff to establish that a defendant’s breach of their duty of care resulted in the decedent suffering fatal injuries.
Texas law allows a decedent’s estate or surviving family members to bring a lawsuit against the negligent party to recover any documentable losses they’ve suffered.
Damages That Can Be Recovered in Wrongful Death Cases
Situations that result in an individual’s wrongful death seldom also result in criminal charges, so the Texas legal system allows surviving family members to request financial compensation when they suffer losses. Damages that can be recovered in wrongful death cases include:
- Monetary damages: This may include any costs associated with ambulance or helicopter transportation to a hospital in an attempt to save a loved one’s life. It may also cover any medical treatment or surgery your loved one might have undergone in a last-ditch attempt to save their life before they passed away.
- Non-monetary damages: This may include losses of counsel, consortium, support, or companionship, and mental anguish (experienced by surviving family members).
Other recoverable damages may include lost earning capacity or lost inheritances. Both of these are associated with financial earnings or contributions a Texas decedent may have been able to make to their household had their life not been cut short.
Plaintiffs may also be able to recover punitive damages in situations in which the court deems a defendant’s actions to have been particularly negligent. Courts often allow for the awarding of punitive damages to send a message to defendants to not repeat such poor acts in the future.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Houston?
Texas law allows the administrator of a decedent’s estate or a close relative, including the following to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit here in Houston:
- Husbands or wives
All wrongful death cases must generally be filed within two years of the wrongful death. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
Where To Turn for Help in Proving Liability in a Wrongful Death Case
Incidents happen that unexpectedly claim a person’s life all the time. That doesn’t necessarily mean that their death was a wrongful one, though. The unfolding of events preceding your loved one’s demise must meet the proof requirements outlined above to constitute wrongful death.
It can be helpful to have an attorney experienced in handling wrongful death claims assess your Houston case to advise you of your legal options.
Know that your initial consultation is free. And, should you choose to work with us at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm, we take on cases on a contingency basis. This means that you won’t owe us anything for our legal representation in your wrongful death claim unless we collect compensation for you.
We’re well aware of the immense pain the sudden loss of a loved one can cause. While we can’t do anything to bring them back, we can help you hold the at-fault party financially liable for their actions. We hope that recovering some of your monetary losses can at least help you feel a little less stress knowing financial burdens are largely taken care of.
Reach out to the lawyers at our Houston office of Buckingham & Vega Law Firm to help build and prove your wrongful death case as you focus on weathering the grieving process. We’re sensitive to what you’re going through and will aggressively fight to ensure you get the maximum compensation you deserve.