Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer
A wrongful death is any death caused by the negligent actions of another. Since the injury victim is deceased, wrongful death suits are typically initiated by surviving spouse or children. It usually takes an experienced and qualified wrongful death lawyer to establish liability for a person’s death. The law office of Brian White has successfully prosecuted cases involving deaths from the following:
- Drunk Driver
- Animal Attack/Dog Bite
- Medical Malpractice
- Truck Crash/Commercial Vehicle Crash
- Workplace Injury
- Railroad Wreck
- Auto Accident
- Boat Accident
- Plant Explosion
- Defective Product
Wrongful deaths lawsuits are brought by the surviving spouse or children. Financial damages can include loss of future wages. Often we can recover the cost of final medical and burial expenses, the loss of inheritance by survivors, loss of support, loss of companionship and affection, and punitive damages designed to punish wrongdoers.
Who Is Eligible or Able to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas—And Who Is Entitled to Compaensation?
When the people we love are taken from us, there’s nothing we want more than to see them again. We can seek restitution for our loss in cases of wrongful death. This won’t mitigate the grief, but it can make things easier during the hardest times in our lives.
Anyone considering filing a wrongful death claim in the Houston area should contact the law office of attorney Brian White. An initial consultation is free, and our team will work tirelessly to see your case resolved favorably. We have experience closing wrongful death cases and can be trusted to do our best for all our clients.
Who Can File
When someone dies due to a person’s negligent actions, the responsibility of suing for restitution usually falls to a loved one. However, the law dictates exactly who is allowed to file a wrongful death case (these people are called “real parties in interest”). The real parties in interest vary from state to state, but in Texas, parties who can file for wrongful death include one’s spouse, children, or parents.
If one of the above parties fails to file a claim within three months of the incident, a personal representative or the executor of the decedent’s estate may file for wrongful death. In this case, a family member can specifically deny the request to file a claim if desired.
In Texas, the decedent’s adult children and any fully, legally adopted children can file wrongful death claims, as can adoptive parents. However, siblings (biological or adopted) of the deceased can’t file for wrongful death in Texas.
Who Receives Compensation
No amount of money can ever replace a loved one nor can it heal the wound any faster. However, compensation for a wrongful death can assist the survivors during this trying time. Funeral expenses compound whatever normal bills they must pay, and many mourners will take time off work to grieve. The money awarded from a wrongful death case can go a long way toward granting the family adequate time to recover.
In Texas, compensation is split among the decedent’s surviving family members. The court will decide the proportion of compensation each family member receives, which is primarily based on the damages suffered due to the decedent’s loss. The types of damage the court will consider when proportioning the awarded monies include money paid for medical or related expenses during the time between the accident and the death as well as loss of future financial support.
Some states (including Texas) also consider “loss of consortium” damages. These are damages caused by the loss of the decedent’s love and companionship. This is especially important in cases where young children lose a parent.
In instances of wrongful death, our team will often win compensation for clients that covers the cost of burial, final medical expenses, loss of survivor’s inheritance, loss of support, loss of companionship, and punitive damages (in certain cases). Texas statute of limitations allows for wrongful death cases to be filed up to two years after the fatal incident, but sooner is better. Our team will start collecting evidence to win any case as soon as we accept it; this ensures we have all the information needed to create an articulate and thorough claim.
The team at the Law Offices of Brian White is committed to client satisfaction, and we have a 99% success rate for favorable resolutions. Nothing can replace a lost loved one, but if a loved one’s death resulted from someone’s careless actions, that negligent party should be held accountable. Reach out to our team for a free initial case evaluation and more information today.
When a person dies due to someone’s negligent actions, the decedent’s estate may be able to file a claim—but what type of claim should they file? Most people initially think of a wrongful death lawsuit. However, there is another option: survival actions.
These two legal options have many similarities, but there are some important differences as well. When a person considers filing a claim for a loved one’s death, it’s important to be aware of the differences. This ensures a plaintiff can choose the right type of claim to file.
Similarities Between Wrongful Death and Survival Claims
The similarities between these cases begins with why they’re filed: a person’s death. Other similarities include the parties that are allowed to sue and those who may be sued. Many of these areas will vary, as state laws govern wrongful death and survival actions. Anyone entertaining the idea of filing either claim should consult an expert on the laws in his or her state before pursuing any legal action.
The parties that can file wrongful death lawsuits or survival actions in Texas are:
- The deceased’s spouse
- Children of the deceased (this includes adult and legally adopted children)
- Parents of the deceased, including adoptive parents
In some states, siblings can also file these claims, but this isn’t allowed in Texas. If no one in the family files a claim, another personal representative of the deceased or his or her executor may file. However, a surviving family member has the right to ask this party not to pursue a claim.
The party being sued in a case of wrongful death or survival action varies widely as well. This could be anyone who might have been responsible for the loss the person bringing the action suffered.
Differences Between Wrongful Death and Survival Claims
The true difference between wrongful death lawsuits and survival actions is in the way that damages are compensated. What damages are considered and who receives them differs between these two types of cases. Damages assessed in a wrongful death case are those the decedent’s survivors suffer. These include:
- Lost earnings
- Lost support
- Anguish and suffering
- Lost love
- Lost inheritance
However, survival claims consider the damages that the decedent would have received had he or she survived. These include lost wages during recovery, medical bills, and the suffering an injury inflicted.
When a wrongful death case is won, the compensation is given directly to the surviving family. Exactly how the compensation is distributed among the family varies in different states. In Texas, the court will decide on proportions of compensation based on each individual’s damages. The compensation won in a survival action doesn’t go directly to the family; it goes to the decedent’s estate. Then, the decedent’s will or state laws determines what happens to the money. This is usually the process in wrongful death cases.
The statute of limitations for these cases also differs. In Texas, parties have up to two years after a death to file a case for wrongful death. A survival claim’s statute of limitations is based on the personal injury case that the decedent could have filed if he or she had survived.
Deciding whether to file a case for wrongful death or a survival claim is one more difficulty left to the survivors of a terrible loss. Brian White can help you make that decision. Our team has years of experience pursuing cases of wrongful death and survival claims, and we pride ourselves on relentlessly seeking just compensation for our clients in all cases. For more information and to schedule a free evaluation, contact our team today.
No amount of money can ever replace a lost loved one, but the compensation that survivors receive from winning a wrongful death lawsuit can allow them time to recover. Compensation can pay for the deceased’s funeral costs, settle any outstanding medical bills, and give money to those most suffering from the loss.
The types of damages considered in a wrongful death case and the ways compensation is awarded are complicated. Anyone who hopes to receive the most compensation for winning a case needs to employ an attorney experienced in dealing with these complications. Brian White is ranked among the best lawyers in Texas, and our team has been pursuing personal injury and wrongful death cases for more than a decade. We’re experts in the laws governing wrongful death cases in Texas and are dedicated to helping clients through difficult times.
Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
The damages considered in a wrongful death case are numerous. They include everything from the deceased’s wages and bills to the survivor’s loss of support and mental anguish. Compensation for a wrongful death is meant to cover the decedent’s final expenses and the support his or her surviving loved ones lost. The damages generally fall into one of three types.
The first type of wrongful death compensation includes damages that the deceased experienced before his or her death. These include the cost of medical bills, recovery of lost earnings, and compensation for their mental and physical anguish. Funeral costs are also included in this category.
Damages the surviving family members suffered are the second category, which are meant to cover financial losses and things like the loss of a decedent’s earning capacity and lost inheritance. In some situations, business partners can sue for the death of a person who provided tangible financial security related to the death.
The last type of damages is called “loss of consortium.” Not all states allow for this type of compensation, but Texas does. These damages are meant to help compensate for the loss of love and support. This type of damage requires special attention in any case where children have lost a parent figure.
In some cases, Texas law also allows for “exemplary” or “punitive” damages. These are considered when a willful act, lack of reasonable action, or the defendant’s gross negligence caused the decedent’s death. Unlike other damages in a wrongful death case, the purpose of exemplary damages isn’t to compensate the family. Rather, it is to punish the defendant for his or her wildly inappropriate behavior.
Compensation for Wrongful Deaths
Once compensation for a wrongful death case has been determined, the court must decide how it should be paid out. The laws that govern who receives compensation and how much vary in different states.
In Texas, when compensation for damages in a wrongful death case are awarded, they’re split among the decedent’s surviving family. This includes the deceased’s spouse, children, and parents. The court decides the percentage of the total compensation each family member receives after considering each person’s specific losses
When pursuing compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one, everyone needs the best help possible. In the Houston area, that’s the Law Offices of Brian White. Our team has a 99% success rate in all our cases, but our goals exceed monetary compensation. We’re committed to ensuring cases go as easily as possible for our clients. We understand that many of our clients are going through the hardest times of their lives, and we strive to be as gentle with them as we are relentless in pursuing justice. Contact us for more information about a wrongful death claim.
The laws that govern the specifics of wrongful death lawsuits vary from state to state, which includes those affecting the statutes of limitations. If you’re facing a wrongful death claim in Texas, you need to know your options and who can help.
The law firm of Brian White operates in the Houston and McCallen areas of Texas and is among the best choices for legal representation in wrongful death cases in the state. Our team has represented clients in these claims for more than 10 years, and we’ve earned a 99% successful resolution rate.
The General Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Filing
In Texas, a party usually has two years following the date of a death to begin a wrongful death lawsuit. Any action past two years is impossible, with a few specific exceptions. This two-year time limit is shared with personal injury cases, as are many of the exceptions to the statute.
Exceptions From the General Statutes
Exceptions from the two-year limitation for filing a wrongful death lawsuit are specifically defined in Texas’ civil practice and remedies codes (CPRC). These include:
- CPRC 16.001(a)(1). This exception applies to minors and states that the time that the minor is underage isn’t counted in the time toward the statute of limitations. This effectively means that a minor can reach the age of 18, and then he or she will have the normal two-year period to file a wrongful death claim.
- CPRC 16.0031. This exception applies to deaths in cases of exposure to silica and asbestos. The two-year period for deaths in these cases begins with the earlier of two occurrences: the person’s death or the claimant filing against the defendant according to sections 90.003 or 90.004 (which deal with reports of injury or death related to asbestos or silica).
- CPRC 16.008. This exception is for cases filed against architects, engineers, interior designers, and landscape architects. It states that a case can be filed up to 10 years from the point of completion of the work or use of equipment installed.
- CPRC 16.009 is similar to 16.008, except it applies to cases filed against people furnishing construction or repair of improvements to real property.
- CPRC 16.0012. This exception applies to cases of wrongful death due to a defective product and grants a 15-year period in which a product liability action can be filed. This code has a few of its own exceptions, which a legal professional will consider on a case by case basis.
- CPRC 16.004. This exception delineates a four-year statute of limitations for filing a case of wrongful death if the death was the result of:
- Specific performance of a contract for the conveyance of real property
- Penalty or damages on the penal clause of a bond to convey real property
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- CPRC 16.0045. This code allows for wrongful death claims to be filed up to 15 years after the date of death if the death was caused by certain offenses.
Texas Business and Commerce Code also affects the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases. Tex. Bus. & Com. Code § 2.725 affects cases of wrongful death from a defective product and essentially extends the two-year limitation period for filing to four years after the product was sold to the deceased.
Laws governing the statute of limitations for filing wrongful death claims are quite complex. Having an experienced and compassionate attorney on your side will make the process much easier. Contact the legal professionals at the Law Offices of Brian White if you have any questions about filing such a claim.
Criminal and civil courts usually judge vastly different cases. However, with personal injury and wrongful death cases, there can be some overlap. For example, a case that goes to criminal court can find the defendant not guilty of a murder, but the case can be tried again in civil court—where the defendant can be found liable for the decedent’s death.
How does this seeming contradiction make sense? The answer lies in the important differences between the criminal and civil courts. They’re governed by separate sets of laws, follow different court systems, and are held to different burdens of proof.
Differences Between the Courts
When someone dies, the circumstances surrounding his or her death may result in a lawsuit. In the civil courts, this is called a wrongful death lawsuit. In criminal courts, this is called a murder trial. Both cases involve a wrongful death, but where do the differences lie?
The first difference is in who brings the case to court. Civil cases are brought by individuals against other individuals or companies (or insurance companies representing the individual or company being sued). Cases in the criminal courts are brought by criminal prosecutors on behalf of the state or the victims of the crime against the person or persons believed to have committed the crime.
Cases in the two different courts are under two different burdens of proof. In civil court, the plaintiff only has to prove that the defendant is “more likely than not” guilty of causing the wrongful death. Prosecutors in criminal cases must prove that the defendant is absolutely guilty “beyond any reasonable doubt.”
Wrongful death lawsuits and murder trials also attempt to prove different levels of intent. Murder must always contain some degree of criminal intent: the defendant must have meant to harm the deceased. However, wrongful death lawsuits don’t always require that the defendant meant to harm the deceased; they may simply have been negligent in their actions.
The final difference between these two types of cases is what is sought at the end of the case. The end goal of a murder trial is to punish the criminal; the goal of a wrongful death lawsuit is the plaintiff’s financial compensation for damages suffered.
A Famous Example: O.J. Simpson
As an example, O.J. Simpson was first tried in criminal courts for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. He was found not guilty. O.J. was tried again in civil court for the same deaths, where it was concluded that he was liable. The single most important difference between the cases is this: burden of proof.
The burden of proof wasn’t met in the criminal case against O.J. because the prosecutors could not prove that he killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman “beyond reasonable doubt.” Therefore, in the criminal case, he was found not guilty. However, the civil court has a lower burden of proof, and the claimants were able to prove that O.J. “more likely than not” caused the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Thus, in accordance to civil law, he was liable for their deaths.
The two results may seem contradictory on the surface, but upon considering the differences between the civil and criminal courts, it becomes clear that they aren’t truly clashing results. The civil court found it likely that O.J. Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, but the criminal court couldn’t prove it beyond a doubt.
Knowing whether a wrongful death case should be filed in the civil or criminal court is a job for a legal professional. The Law Offices of Brian White have more than a decade of experience representing clients in wrongful death cases, and we have a 99% success rate. No one should navigate the complexities of a wrongful death lawsuit without legal advice; contact our team today for cases in the
If a family member has died through as the result of a negligent act call for a free consultation today. We never charge a fee until we win your case. Don’t compromise your rights to recover the compensation you need and deserve by waiting to act. We will listen to your concerns and clarify all of your options.