Houston Wrongful Death Attorneys
Providing Compassionate, Personalized Legal Representation
When you lose a loved one unexpectedly, you are faced with emotional and mental trauma. You also face economic costs and financial losses that you hadn’t planned for. When your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless actions, your grief can quickly turn to anger.
If your family has lost a loved one to wrongful death, you deserve answers and justice. At Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, our Houston wrongful death attorneys fight for families like yours. We demand full compensation for families who have been left with overwhelming financial burdens after a death that could have been prevented. Reach out to our firm today for a free case evaluation. We can discuss your rights, answer your questions, and talk about the next steps. Our firm does not charge upfront fees for our advice and our legal representation. You don’t have to pay us anything unless and until we recover compensation for you.
Schedule a complimentary consultation today by calling (713) 609-1930 or by filling out and submitting a secure online contact form. Hablamos español.
When Is a Death Considered “Wrongful” in Texas?
Generally speaking, a death is considered “wrongful” under Texas’s wrongful death statute when it occurs due to the negligent, reckless, careless, or wrongful conduct of another. This includes instances in which a fetus is not born alive due to medical negligence or other forms of misconduct.
If the person who passed away would have had grounds to file a personal injury claim had they lived, their death is likely considered “wrongful.” This means that certain surviving family members are entitled to bring a wrongful death action against the at-fault, or liable, party and seek compensation for losses, or damages, related to the decedent’s passing.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Some of the most common accidents that give rise to wrongful death claims include:
- Car accidents, including drunk driving accidents, hit-and-run accidents, or Uber and Lyft accidents
- Truck accidents
- Commercial vehicle accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Bus accidents
- Premises liability incidents, including slip and falls, swimming pool accidents, and negligent security
- Construction accidents
- Work accidents
- Assault, manslaughter, homicide, and murder
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Texas law specifies categories of people who are entitled to file a wrongful death claim.
First, the law allows a surviving spouse, surviving children (including legally adopted children), or surviving parents (including legal adoptive parents) of the person who died (known as the decedent) to file a wrongful death claim. Any of these individuals may file the claim themselves, or all of these eligible parties may choose to file the wrongful death claim together. Regardless of who is filing the claim, the case is brought on behalf of all surviving eligible family members, each of whom is entitled to a share of any recovery obtained in the wrongful death claim.
If a surviving spouse, child, or parent does not bring a wrongful death claim within three months of the decedent’s death, then the decedent’s personal representative, usually the administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate, may then file the wrongful death claim. The claim is filed on behalf of all surviving eligible family members, unless the surviving spouse, surviving children, and surviving parents of the decedent object to the claim being filed.
Compensation in a Texas Wrongful Death Claim
No amount of money can undo the loss you have endured or make up for the tragic passing of your loved one. That being said, a wrongful death claim is intended to compensate the estate of the deceased individual, along with the eligible surviving family members for personal and economic losses they have suffered due to the decedent’s passing.
Compensation in a wrongful death claim in Texas may be sought for:
- Costs of medical treatment for last injury or illness caused by the at-fault party
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost wages suffered by the decedent for the period between the onset of the last injury or illness and death
- Lost earning capacity or expected financial contributions to the family, including benefits such as health insurance and pensions
- Lost inheritance, or the value of assets the decedent reasonably would have saved and left to the surviving family member if the decedent had enjoyed a normal life expectancy
- Loss of the decedent’s care, maintenance and services, support, guidance, advice, and counsel
- Loss of the decedent’s love, comfort, companionship, and intimacy
- Conscious pain and suffering experienced by the decedent prior to death
- Emotional pain and anguish experienced by surviving family members
In rare cases where a decedent’s death is caused by egregious or shocking conduct, usually of a willful or reckless nature, you may also be awarded exemplary, or “punitive,” damages. This is not intended to compensate you for any loss. Rather, it is intended to “punish” the at-fault party for the conduct and to deter others from committing similar conduct in the future.
Compensation recovered in a wrongful death claim is usually distributed among the surviving eligible family members in direct proportion to the loss each family member suffered due to the decedent’s death.
If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent or reckless actions, you deserve to seek compensation and accountability from the at-fault party. Contact Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC today for a free consultation with a compassionate wrongful death lawyer in Houston. There is no fee for us to start work on your case. You only pay us if we recover compensation for your family.
Reach us online or by phone at (713) 609-1930. Our team is here for you and your family during this incredibly difficult time.
If your family wishes to file a wrongful death lawsuit, Texas’s statute of limitations requires you to file suit within two years of the date of your loved one’s passing.
This two-year period may be delayed, or “tolled,” under limited circumstances, such as when:
- The only plaintiff eligible to file the wrongful death lawsuit is younger than 18
- The only plaintiff eligible to file the lawsuit suffers a mental or physical impairment that prevents him or her from filing suit during the two-year statute of limitations
- The surviving family members did not and could not through reasonable diligence know of the liable conduct of the at-fault parties
- The at-fault party or parties willfully conceal their liability
It is important that you speak with a Houston wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to make sure you understand the deadlines that apply to your case. If you fail to file suit before the statute of limitations expires on your family’s wrongful death claim, the court will have grounds to dismiss your lawsuit. Once your case is dismissed, you will lose the right to pursue compensation in court.
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How long do wrongful death cases take?
Every case is different; the exact amount of time it will take to resolve your wrongful death case depends on numerous individual factors, such as the complexity of the claim and the defendant’s willingness to settle. That being said, most wrongful death cases are resolved within several months to a couple of years.
The attorneys at Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC strive to achieve fast, favorable settlements for our clients. We understand the importance of resolving your case as efficiently as possible so that you and your family can heal and move forward with your lives. However, we also recognize that it is essential that you receive the full, fair amount you are owed. We are always ready and willing to take cases to trial whenever necessary.
Do all wrongful death cases go to trial?No, many wrongful death cases settle before going to trial. At Pines & Goldenzweig, PLLC, our Houston wrongful death attorneys know how to aggressively pursue favorable settlements on behalf of surviving family members and help them avoid the time, cost, and stress of trial. However, we also recognize that this is not always possible. If the liable party refuses to settle, or if it offers an unjust amount, we are fully prepared to take your case to trial to secure the justice and fair compensation you and your family deserve.
What is the difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival claim?Survival claims are similar to wrongful death claims in that both seek compensation for damages following the death of an individual. However, while a wrongful death case seeks recovery for eligible surviving family members, a survival action typically seeks compensation for the decedent’s estate. Rather than awarding damages directly to surviving family members, damages in a survival claim are awarded to the estate and then distributed accordingly.
Does a criminal conviction automatically mean civil liability?
If the defendant is convicted of manslaughter, homicide, or murder in the case involving your loved one’s death, this does not necessarily imply civil liability. However, a conviction can be a good indicator that you will be successful in your civil wrongful death lawsuit. This is because the burden of proof in a criminal case is much higher than it is in a civil lawsuit.
In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil lawsuit, however, you must simply show that the defendant is more likely than not to have caused the death of your loved one. Your attorney can help you understand what must be proven in your wrongful death claim, as well as what to expect if the defendant is charged with and/or convicted in a criminal case.
How is a wrongful death case different from a criminal case?Wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits, rather than criminal cases. This means that the person or party who brings a wrongful death claim seeks financial compensation for certain losses, or “damages,” rather than criminal penalties, such as imprisonment. It is possible for an at-fault party to face both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit if they are responsible for the death of an individual. Additionally, the outcome of a criminal case—or the lack of criminal proceedings—does not necessarily affect the outcome of a civil wrongful death lawsuit or an individual’s right to file suit.