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Are you wondering whether or not you are able to file a wrongful death lawsuit? Here's everything you need to know about wrongful death in Houston.

Did you know that there are nearly 200,000 deaths each year as a result of accidents?

In many cases, accidents are unintentional and it would be difficult to impossible to assign blame. But in some cases, someone could have prevented these deaths. Without a wrongful death lawsuit, such a person or organization may never suffer the consequences.

However, a wrongful death case requires the right person to step up. Each state has its own laws, and Houston is no different. You'll need a wrongful death attorney at your side every step of the way.

In this article, we'll discuss what a wrongful death lawsuit entails, and who can file one.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death differs from other crimes such as murder and manslaughter. These two crimes involve an intention to do harm.

Wrongful death occurs, on the other hand, from negligence or knowing inaction. This is when an individual could have prevented a death but failed to step in.

Here are a few common examples of wrongful death:

  • Poor workplace safety or adherence to regulation that leads to an employee's death
  • A deadly car accident by a careless driver
  • Safety hazards on a homeowner's or business' premises that lead to death
  • Accidents related to water activities, like swimming or boating
  • Malpractice from medical procedures
  • Overdoses or unintentional poisoning

A key feature of wrongful death laws is this: the decedent cannot file a lawsuit. A living person who had some relationship with the deceased can hire a lawyer for wrongful death. As mentioned earlier, who this person can be varies from place to place.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Houston?

Texas' wrongful death statute outlines who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. It also details how long they have to do so, and what the statute of limitations is.

The following can file a wrongful death lawsuit for a deceased relative:

  • Spouses that survived the decedent
  • Children of the decedent
  • Parents of the decedent

If these immediate relatives do not file a suit, then the estate of the decedent can.

Who Cannot File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Unfortunately, there are some close relatives who cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit. They are the following:

  • Siblings
  • Cousins
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Former spouses

That said, some of these individuals may become estate heirs. In that event, they can hire a wrongful death attorney and fight that case.

Is There a Deadline to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Yes. The timeline for living relatives, such as parents and children, is three months. During this time, no one else can make a wrongful death lawsuit.

After this time is up, the law opens the opportunity to others, such as the estate. The estate can decide whether to hire a lawyer and fight it on behalf of its beneficiaries. However, they must wait out the three-month window before doing so.

That said, there is a statute of limitations. Anyone who wishes to file a wrongful death lawsuit (and is permitted to do so) has two years. Two years after the decedent's death, the time is up to file.

Other Exceptions for the Texas Wrongful Death Statute

A lesser-known reason you might hire a wrongful death attorney is for unborn children. Just as with a normal person, a deceased fetus killed by negligence qualifies under the law.

However, there are some caveats. In the following circumstances, no one can accuse the mother or the physician:

  1. Death resulting from a medical procedure protected by the law, and assuming there was consent
  2. Death resulting from a drug, assuming this drug is legal and the person who administered it has a license
  3. Death resulting from normal care provided by a health care professional and their institution

That means that if the mother obtains a legal abortion, a wrongful death lawsuit is not possible. Likewise, the mother cannot file a wrongful death lawsuit if she consented to a legal medical procedure or a drug.

Other instances may include an accident. This accident can be anything from a vehicular collision to a fall on a slippery surface. In the case of an unborn fetus, only the biological mother and father can make a wrongful death case.

What Compensation Can You Receive?

Wrongful deaths affect people in a myriad of ways. The sort of compensation you will receive will depend on your unique wrongful death case. Here are some forms of compensation:

  • Loss of Society and Companionship: in this case, you're a loved one that lost emotional support, love, and counsel
  • Mental Anguish: grief and trauma can be devastating, requiring compensation to cope and cover expenses
  • Loss of Earning Capacity: in the event of a breadwinner, this refers to money the decedent could have earned if they'd lived a longer life
  • Loss of Inheritance: it's unfair for someone to lose their partner early on, especially if they expected an inheritance to cover expenses

This compensation can help you to rebuild your life. It can assist with the bills for grief counseling. Likewise, it will help to cover basic expenses as you recover from the trauma.

The important thing is to hire a lawyer. You don't want to fight a wrongful death lawsuit alone, especially against a defendant who refuses to take responsibility. A wrongful death attorney can help you to navigate the tightropes of wrongful death laws.

Find Representation Today

Accidents happen, but in some cases, they result from negligence and inaction. If that's the case, it's imperative that you file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, know who can file them and what the statute of limitations is.

Calhoun and Meredith know wrongful death laws like no one else. Contact them today to get a free case review.

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