HOUSTON WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEY
Top Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer
Wrongful death claims are not like any other personal injury claim. While no financial compensation can make up for the loss of a loved one, Texas wrongful death law allows family members of the deceased to seek compensation for their losses. Because of the complexity of these cases, we strongly recommend working with a Houston wrongful death attorney.
At Reich & Binstock, our Houston wrongful death attorneys are committed to offering compassionate legal counsel and aggressive representation to families in wrongful death claims. Our attorneys offer a free consultation to family members of the deceased, including a surviving spouse or other family members. To schedule your free case evaluation, please call our Houston, TX office at 713-622-7271 today.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death is a civil action filed by a surviving family member against someone who is responsible for the death of a loved one as a result of their negligence. Any criminal charges that may be pending are unrelated to a wrongful death case.
Similarly, survival actions are an alternative type of claim that can be filed if the victim survives at first, then succumbs to their injuries from the incident later. Read our blog detailing the differences between wrongful death vs survival action to see which you qualify for.
Common Accidents Leading to Wrongful Death Claims in Houston
To succeed in a wrongful death suit, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s carelessness was the cause of death. Some examples of common accidents leading to wrongful death claims include the following.
A defective product claim, for example, could result from a design flaw, manufacturing flaw, or failure to warn. A design flaw is a flaw in a product that makes it unreasonably unsafe, given the product’s intended usage and the dangers associated with it. Wrongful death lawsuits involving unsafe items are difficult to navigate and always require the assistance of an experienced Houston product liability attorney.
The most common cause of wrongful deaths in Texas is car accidents. The negligence of the other motorist must first be established as the foundation of a wrongful death suit. Running a red light, following too closely and rear-ending the victim, or causing a wreck by driving under the influence are all examples of negligence.
It is possible for a bar or club to be named as a defendant in a drunk driving accident. If the bar knew the driver was intoxicated, it could be liable for the death. This scenario is called a dram shop lawsuit when a case is filed against a bar or club.
A Houston car accident attorney can help you with a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one died due to a car wreck.
If a truck driver engages in negligent or unsafe behavior behind the wheel, this could lead to a fatal accident. In this case, a surviving family member can file a wrongful death claim against the truck driver.
Trucking companies also have a responsibility to properly train their drivers. If they fail to give proper training or enforce safety standards, this could lead to an accident. Truck manufacturers and companies that improperly loaded the vehicles can also be held liable. Companies that perform vehicle maintenance may also be liable for injuries or deaths in a truck accident.
Since trucking accident claims tend to get very complex, we’d recommend speaking with an experienced Houston 18-wheeler accident lawyer to help you with your wrongful death claim.
A negligent daycare facility owner can be sued for a child’s death if the child was in their care when they sustained injuries or death. Failure to properly supervise the child is typically the cause of such a tragedy. To succeed in a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s carelessness was the cause of the child’s death.
One example of a possible daycare injury is NEC. NEC is a dangerous gastrointestinal disease that mostly affects premature babies. If a daycare were to feed recalled formula to a baby and then that baby develops NEC, they may face a lawsuit. Parents of affected babies can file an NEC lawsuit either for wrongful death or for injuries.
Criminal Cases vs Civil Cases for Wrongful Death
The main difference between criminal and civil cases is that they involve two different types of law. One is criminal law, which involves criminal penalties such as prison time. The other is civil law, which involves monetary reimbursement for damages suffered by the plaintiff.
Additionally, the burden of proof in a wrongful death lawsuit is much lower than in a criminal proceeding. Another distinct facet of wrongful death cases is that the focus is on the victim and their family, instead of on the wrongdoer. Allowing surviving family members to seek compensation for their tragic loss is the objective of a wrongful death case.
Is Wrongful Death a Crime?
No. Wrongful death proceedings are civil in nature, with the goal of holding wrongdoers liable for monetary damages. Authorities may charge the offender with a criminal offense, but the criminal case is separate from any civil damages lawsuit. As we mentioned before, the burden of proof is lower in wrongful death cases than in criminal cases.
What Does a Houston Wrongful Death Attorney Do?
A wrongful death attorney’s responsibility is to handle litigation for families who have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence. They gather evidence to establish liability and hold negligent parties accountable for the family’s economic losses. Ultimately, the goal is to both unburden the grieving family and recover compensation for them.
First, an experienced wrongful death attorney will focus on investigating your loved one’s death. Attorneys have a deep understanding of the types of evidence they could use to support your claim. They already know where to look and how to acquire strong evidence.
If the case involves a medical malpractice wrongful death, your attorney will examine the medical records of the wrongful death victim. They may also call upon expert witnesses to testify as to how the negligence occurred that caused your loved one’s death.
Texas law outlines what constitutes wrongful death, who qualifies to file a claim, and how long someone has to file a claim. It can be difficult to understand the language of the Texas Civil Practice Code, but an attorney will ensure that you fully understand your legal rights.
Lastly, Houston wrongful death lawyers will help surviving family members file their claims and pursue full compensation. Texas wrongful death cases can be complicated, but our experienced wrongful death lawyers will help you navigate the process easily.
How Do I Choose a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
When picking a Houston wrongful death lawyer, there are a few things to look for. First, confirm that they are currently licensed to practice in your state. Look for the areas of law they cover when performing your research. Attorneys who practice or specialize in wrongful death cases are also considered personal injury lawyers.
Keep in mind that not every personal injury attorney will take a wrongful death case. Many of these attorneys only handle personal injury cases that don’t involve wrongful death, so it’s important to know whether an attorney has experience with wrongful death.
A Houston wrongful death lawyer with Reich & Binstock will have extensive experience representing family members of the deceased to recover damages in their case. After decades of legal practice, we have become very familiar with Texas law regarding wrongful death.
We will investigate the negligent act that took your loved one’s life and ensure that every negligent party is held accountable.
How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Houston wrongful death lawyers must show that someone engaged in a negligent, wrongful act that resulted in the death of their client’s loved one to win a wrongful death case. Much like a personal injury lawsuit, you must meet certain criteria to recover compensation. A Houston wrongful death lawyer must show that your case meets the following criteria to recover damages.
Consider the example of fatal drunk driving accidents. All drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road to drive safe and sober. Therefore, the drunk driver that caused the avoidable accident owed a duty of care to the deceased person.
When the drunk driver decided to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, this breached the duty of care they owed others on the road. Their decision to drive drunk was negligent and greatly increased the chances of causing an accident.
The defendant’s negligence caused the victim’s death. When an intoxicated driver gets behind the wheel, this is an obviously negligent act. If their intoxication caused a fatal accident, they could be held liable in a wrongful death claim.
The last element requires that the deceased person’s immediate family members suffered actual financial damages due to the death. For example, maybe the deceased person was hospitalized for a few months before succumbing to their injuries (which is an example of a survival claim). In this case, the family would be responsible for the accrued medical bills, funeral expenses, and burial expenses.
These are monetary damages for which a surviving spouse, family member, or the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. Other examples of damages include lost support and income, loss of consortium, loss of inheritance, and more.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death in Texas?
In Texas, the deceased’s spouse, parents, and children can sue after a fatal accident. If a surviving family member does not begin a claim within three months of their loved one’s death, a representative of the decedent’s estate may also file the claim. Wrongful death victims’ family members deserve compensation for the losses from their loved one’s death. A Houston wrongful death lawyer with our firm is here to support you in seeking compensation.
How Much Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth?
A “standard” or “average” number for the monetary value of a wrongful death claim does not exist. No matter how many online sources claim that wrongful death cases are worth a certain amount, the reality is that these amounts greatly fluctuate between cases.
Even two different cases involving motorcycle accidents can have very different valuations. The compensation available in each case is determined by several variables, including the severity of the cause of death, the resulting anguish and suffering, your lawyer’s experience, whether your case is settled or goes to trial, and many others.
Having said that, many wrongful death cases have settled for tens of millions of dollars, while others have settled for hundreds of thousands. The more experienced your wrongful death attorney is, the more likely you will have the best chance at a favorable outcome. To work with attorneys skilled in wrongful death lawsuits, contact Reich & Binstock by calling 713-622-7271.
What Wrongful Death Damages Can You Get?
Wrongful death damages you could be awarded include monetary losses, loss of companionship and society, mental anguish, and loss of inheritance. Punitive damages are available in some cases, but only if the death was caused by a “willful act or omission or gross negligence of the defendant.” In other words, punitive damages are reserved for cases in which the defendant acted in a particularly egregious manner.
The surviving relatives involved in the case could suffer both monetary and nonmonetary damages after the death of their loved one. Economic damages are easy to quantify, as they will already have a dollar amount associated with them. Examples of economic losses include the following.
- Loss of household income
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills and expenses related to the victim’s death
- Loss of inheritance
On the other hand, non-monetary losses account for losses that are difficult to quantify. Common examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering of the deceased, mental and emotional anguish, and loss of consortium.
How much you’re able to get out of your Houston wrongful death claim will really hinge on the experience of your lawyer. Houston wrongful death lawyers with more experience will know which damages you’re entitled to and how much your case is worth.
Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Taxable?
Although there are exceptions, a wrongful death settlement is typically not taxable. There are several exceptions, such as claims for lost wages or punitive damages awarded by a jury. According to IRS Rule 1.104-1, wrongful death settlements are not taxable. Consult a knowledgeable Houston wrongful death attorney about your situation if you are unsure of whether your settlement is taxable.
What Is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in Texas?
The wrongful death statute of limitations Texas is two years from the date of the victim’s death. We recommend hiring a qualified wrongful death attorney as soon as possible following the accident. Waiting too long to speak with an attorney will only hurt your case. It could cast doubt on your credibility, as well as make the evidence less reliable. If you plan to file a wrongful death claim, do this sooner rather than later to give your case a better chance of a favorable outcome.
Experienced Houston Wrongful Death Attorney
Our Houston wrongful death attorneys at Reich & Binstock provide committed assistance throughout the legal process of a wrongful death claim. We’ll get to work immediately by assessing your wrongful death case, and we’ll keep you updated and informed throughout. Because we operate on a contingency fee basis, we don’t accept a single cent unless we secure a recovery on your behalf.
Contact a Houston wrongful death attorney at Reich & Binstock immediately for additional information or to get started on your wrongful death lawsuit. For a free consultation, please call us at 713-622-7271 today.
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.