Houston Wrongful Death Attorney
If you lost someone you love due to the negligence of someone else, you may be left unable to pay your bills or provide for your family. Let experienced Houston wrongful death attorney Hector Longoria fight for your rightful compensation so you can begin the grieving process. Call today for a free consultation.
Wrongful Death in Houston, Texas
The death of a loved one due to the fault of another may be the most traumatic and horrible experiences anyone can potentially go through. And should this happen to you, all you’ll be thinking about is having your loved one back. But this won’t be possible. The most satisfying remedy you may have available is allowing the criminal court system to punish whoever was responsible for the loss of your loved one. But that’s assuming the person violated a criminal statute.
Basically, the only other thing you can do to obtain any sort of justice for your loss is to seek monetary compensation through the civil courts. One legal remedy available is the Texas wrongful death lawsuit. Reducing the death of a loved one to a dollar amount sounds cold hearted (and it is), but it’s essentially all the civil court system can provide.
Money serves as the court’s way of compensating you for your pain and some of the financial burdens you may face like funeral costs, medical bills and loss of future earnings. It can also be a way of punishing the person for causing the wrongful death. Due to the seriousness and complexity of these types of cases, it takes a Houston wrongful death attorney, such as Hector Longoria, to properly handle one and help you obtain the justice you deserve.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is exactly what it sounds like: a lawsuit due to the wrongful death of an individual. It’s a legal cause of action to provide compensation (and sometimes punishment) when a death is the result of someone else’s improper actions (or inaction in some cases).
Not all actions that cause the death of another will result in wrongful death liability. The actions must be the result of someone’s intentional, reckless, careless or negligent behavior. For example, imagine a car accident caused by a commercial truck driver. If the truck driver was drunk, speeding excessively or distracted because he was texting, then the truck driver is probably liable for wrongful death. But if the truck driver paid full attention to the road, obeyed the speed limit, followed all safety regulations and did everything he could avoid the accident, then it’s unlikely he has any wrongful death liability.
What Kind of Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a Texas wrongful death case, there are two categories of monetary damages available for recovery. The first type is punitive damages. These are designed to punish those responsible for the death. These are only available when the person responsible acted willfully or the death was the result of his or her gross negligence.
The second is compensatory damages. As its name implies, these compensate the surviving victims in a wrongful death action. Common types of compensatory damages include:
- Loss of future earnings.
- Funeral expenses and medical bills.
- Loss of companionship.
- Emotional pain and suffering (sometimes referred to as mental anguish).
- Loss of inheritance.
- Loss of services (such as the support, care and advice the victim may have continued to receive if their loved one survived).
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Under Texas law, only the deceased’s children, spouse and parents can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. This means you can’t sue for wrongful death due to losing a sibling, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, grandparent or grandchild. It doesn’t matter how close you were to one of these relatives when they died. You are still prevented from suing for wrongful death.
What About a Survival Action Lawsuit?
Wrongful death allows the parents, child or spouse to sue for the harm they have suffered as a result of the death of their loved one. In a survival action, the representative of the deceased’s sues for the harm the deceased’s suffered before he or she died. For example, in a survival action, a family member might sue on the deceased’s behalf for the pain and suffering they suffered the final few hours before they passed away.
Do I Need a Houston Wrongful Death Attorney to Sue for Wrongful Death?
Technically, you can bring a wrongful death lawsuit on your own, without an attorney. But this is not recommended for several reasons.
First, wrongful death cases usually involve a lot of money. This means the party responsible may fight very hard to prevent you from recovering anything in a wrongful death court case.
Second, there is a time limit on when you can bring a wrongful death action. The statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years. This means you must file your lawsuit within two years of the death of the deceased. But this is not an absolute deadline, so if you miss it, all may not be lost. However, it’s helpful to have an experienced wrongful death lawyer to help you effectively argue that one of the exceptions to the two-year deadline applies to your case.
Third, it helps to have an attorney deal with potential defenses from the responsible party. For example, what do you say when the responsible part argues that you can’t sue for wrongful death because the child you lost was adopted? Or maybe the responsible party admits his or her negligence cause the death of your loved one, but your damages should be reduced because your loved one was also partially responsible for causing his or her death. Handling these types of legal arguments is challenging even for a seasoned Houston wrongful death attorney, so it’s easy to see how handling these legal battles on your own is not the best idea.
Finally, in many wrongful death cases, it’s really the defendant’s insurance company who will actually write the check for any damage award that you might receive. And as you might imagine, often these insurance companies use delay tactics or take steps to prevent you from getting what you’re legally entitled to. Therefore, it’s nice to have a Houston wrongful death lawyer help you deal with these insurance companies.
Would You Like to Speak with a Houston Wrongful Death Attorney?
Call Hector today at 713-929-3996 (Houston) or 1-844-357-6337 (toll-free) for a free consultation. He will carefully explain what rights you may have under Texas’ wrongful death statute, as well as what legal options are available to you.
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