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As a family member of a wrongful death victim in Houston, Texas, you can get justice by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, pursuing wrongful death claims in grief can be a traumatic experience and a tedious process; you may need a death law firm to ease the burden. It'd help if you called the Houston wrongful death lawyers at Calhoun Meredith to help you get the best compensation for your loss.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death happens when someone dies because of another's carelessness or misconduct. Any unexpected death that the law doesn't sanction is unlawful, and there are penalties for the wrongdoer who causes such death. A death verdict passed by a competent court of law isn't wrongful. However, if an At-Fault driver, due to negligent driving, kills someone, he has caused a wrongful death car accident.

Unlike in murder cases, the claimants don't need to prove intent. Instead, to prove wrongful death, they must show that the defendant breached a duty of care to the deceased. Next, they must show that it was the breach that caused the deceased's death and nothing else. The claimants should also show that they have suffered damages due to the death. A duty of care is an obligation to do something that keeps others safe. It's also a responsibility to refrain from doing something that harms another.

Anyone who negligently breaches a duty of care that results in a fatality has caused a wrongful death. Such a person would be liable for monetary damages to the deceased's family. He/she risks jail time. Here are some scenarios of wrongful death caused by a breach of duty of care:

  1. Negligent drivers causing  truck accidents casualties.
  2. A doctor's wrong medical procedure that results in a patients' death
  3. An employer neglecting to provide safe work environments resulting in fatal workplace accidents.
  4. Fatal accidents caused by defective products and dangerous drugs
  5. Premises liability and property negligence
  6. Nursing Home abuse

There are many instances of wrongful deaths in Houston, Texas. The claimants or plaintiffs who wish to get compensation must be familiar with claims processes and Houston's death laws.

What Are the Processes for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Texas?

While you cannot be compensated enough for your pain, you will have a sense of justice if you get some responsible parties' damages. That can only happen if you file a claim. All states in the US permit wrongful death claims. However, the rules and steps for filing these claims differ from state to state. Again, each state has varying statutes for wrongful death lawsuits and claims. If you are filing a valid claim in Houston, Texas, you may have to go through these processes:

  1. File a Claim

If the negligent parties have no valid insurance coverage, they may be liable for out-of-pocket costs. Otherwise, the first step to receiving wrongful death damages is to file a claim with the at-fault persons' insurance company.

Texas' laws restrict the persons who can file these claims. If you're unsure about the requirements, you should seek advice from a wrongful death attorney. After filing your requests, the insurance company may accept or deny liability for damages. 

This is usually after they conclude their private investigations. If they accept liability, they may employ the services of an insurance adjuster to evaluate the appropriate compensation for you. 

  1. Negotiate With the Insurance Provider

Insurance adjusters usually come up with settlements that are far below what you deserve. When this happens, you can negotiate with the insurance company to get what you think is fair. To achieve success at negotiation, you must be patient and persistent. You must also arm yourself with adequate knowledge and facts about the case's specifics.

  1. Reach a Wrongful Death Settlement

Negotiations usually end when either party concedes to the other. If you accept a settlement, the insurance provider will pay you financial compensation according to the agreement's terms. However, it is not in every situation that you would reach an agreement. When negotiations break down, you can take further legal actions by instituting a civil lawsuit.

  1. File a Civil Lawsuit

If you cannot get compensation from the insurance company for any reason, you can file a case in a competent court. The judge would examine the proofs or evidence before the court and listen to both parties' arguments. After the trial has ended and the Texas court has reviewed all relevant factors, the judge will decide on a reasonable sum. You can still file a civil suit even when the state institutes criminal actions against the defendant.

funeral wrongful death

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Houston, Texas? 

Being friends with lawful death victims can cause you a great deal of mental anguish. While you may experience emotional pain and injuries, you may find it difficult to get damages for loss of life. That's because Texas death law limits wrongful death claimants to the following persons:

The Victims' Surviving Spouse

The first category of persons that can commence a wrongful death claim in Texas is the deceased's husband or wife. Once anyone can prove that they are spouses to the dead, they'd be entitled to money damages.

The Deceased's Child or Children

Another category of claimants is the victim's child(ren). Minor children can file a wrongful death claim in Texas. However, the court can appoint relatives as guardians to institute the minor's behalf. Note that adopted children cannot claim the death benefits of their biological parents.

Parents of the Victim

If the victim was unmarried and had no child, the parents can institute legal actions to recover damages.

The Personal Representative or Executors of the Deceased Person's Estate 

Under some circumstances, a deceased person may not have parents, children, or spouses. Instead, they may have surviving brothers and sisters. However, Texas Law doesn't give siblings the ability to institute wrongful death claims. In such situations, the personal representatives or executors of the deceased's estate will file the claims.

A dead person appoints a personal representative in his/her will. If there's no will, the judge may appoint an estate administrator or executor for that purpose. Grandparents and other distant family members cannot file a claim.

What's the Time Limit for Claimants To File a Suit?

Texas has a statute of limitations for wrongful death claims and lawsuits. The rule of limitations prescribes the time limit within which you must file a claim.  Courts have the right to disregard your matter if you file out of time. Texas' statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of cause of action. There are exceptions to this two-year rule. You can ask your personal injury lawyers about them.

Common Types of Damages in a Texas Wrongful Death Claim

An individual instituting a wrongful death claim can seek to recover the following damages:

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages aim at punishing the responsible parties.  They become exemplary damages when the aim is to deter future wrongdoers. 

Compensatory Damages

These include lost earning capacity, mental pain, loss of companionship,  comfort, and lost inheritance. It can also include damages for maintenance, lost care, support, and other benefits the beneficiaries would have enjoyed if the victim lived. The deceased's spouse can sue for loss of consortium.

Economic Damages

Economic damages cover funeral expenses and other death-related expenses, medical bills, loss of inheritance, and lots more.

If you wish to get tremendous possible damages for your loss, you should hire a wrongful death lawyer. In awarding damages, a judge would consider lots of factors. A claimant's arguments can also sway the court's mind into making decisions to their advantage. A wrongful death attorney knows how to convince the judges to give you the best damages possible.


Take the Weight off Your Shoulders by Consulting With Houston's Best Wrongful Death Lawyers 

Losing a loved one to someone else's negligent actions can be very painful. It's even more traumatic when you have to experience financial losses when footing funeral expenses. But that's not all. You will still have to face some laborious legal process to get real justice for your loved one.

The good news, however, is that you don't have to do it alone.  We can bear your legal burdens. At Calhoun Meredith, our attorneys have successfully handled wrongful death claims to our clients' satisfaction. You should schedule consultations with us immediately. We promise to exceed your expectations.

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