Wrongful Death Lawyer in Houston
The sudden passing of a loved one due to negligence leaves families scrambling to pay bills, trying to understand the next steps, and asking for answers. If this is your situation, you could ask for help on all fronts.
Our Houston wrongful death lawyers are ready to determine your eligibility for compensation, walk you through filing a claim or lawsuit, and investigate what happened to your loved one. We’ll be there for you throughout the legal process as your legal support.
How Much Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Worth in Houston?
Unfortunately, the average amount of a wrongful death settlement in Texas cannot be accurately calculated. This is because every settlement for a wrongful death depends on the facts of the case, and each case is unique.
Furthermore, the value of a wrongful death claim may be influenced by factors such as evidence strength, the nature of the defendant’s conduct, and the case’s specific circumstances.
However, settlements for wrongful death claims can vary from $600,000 to $10 million or more.
Some factors that may influence the value of a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas include:
- Economic damages: These damages are quantifiable economic losses suffered by your family members. They may include:
Loss of financial support, including your loved one’s past and future earnings, pension, and other benefits. Medical expenses incurred before the deceased person’s death. Funeral expenses and burial costs.
- Non-Economic Damages: These damages are more subjective and difficult to quantify, as they deal with the emotional and psychological impact on your family members. They may include:
Loss of consortium, love, and care provided by the deceased person. Mental anguish and emotional pain suffered by your family due to the wrongful death.
- Exemplary Damages: In certain cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly malicious, grossly negligent, or intentional, Texas courts may award exemplary damages (also known as punitive damages) to the plaintiff. These damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.
We know your loved one’s life cannot be distilled into a list of medical bills, lost wages, and compensation. They were so much more than that. So we work to make the responsible parties recognize your emotional fallout through pain and suffering damages.
To better understand the potential worth of a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, we recommend consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can evaluate your case and provide guidance.
Is There a Cap on Punitive Damages in Texas?
Texas has no cap on punitive damages in certain personal injury claims. This includes cars and truck accidents and construction or other work-related injuries.
These damages aren’t about compensating you for specific losses. Instead, they are a form of punishment for the negligent party. Punitive damages are usually awarded in cases of gross negligence or deliberate harm.
Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Serving Houston Get Results
Our settlements speak for themselves. Some of our notable wrongful death cases include:
- A $3.5 million settlement for wrongful death from a commercial motor vehicle accident involving a company van
- An $8.5 million award for a truck accident involving the death of two family members
- A $1 million settlement for a gas tank explosion due to over-pressurization
- A $ 4 million award for the loss of a son on a job site due to a general contractor’s negligence
Each case will be different, but our past cases illustrate our wrongful death and personal injury lawyers’ commitment to getting results for our Houston clients.
Who Can Sue for a Wrongful Death in Houston?
Texas law only allows certain family members to file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. The following parties are allowed to file:
- Children, adopted or biological
- Parents, adopted or biological
If no family members bring an action of wrongful death against a liable party within three months of the deceased’s passing, executors or administrators can pursue a claim or suit under Texas Civ. Prac. and Rem. Code § 71.004.
However, siblings or unmarried partners cannot file a wrongful death claim or lawsuit on behalf of a deceased person. Our personal injury lawyers could review your case and determine your options if this describes your situation.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases We Handle
Wrongful death is a blanket category for several types of fatal accidents caused by negligence.
Below are common cases we tackle for families:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Unfortunately, we often handle fatal motor vehicle accident cases. For example, a wrongful death roadway accident could involve:
- Truck Accidents
- Car Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Bicycle Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Rideshare Accidents
- Taxi Accidents
Any Negligent Behavior Can Turn Fatal
In any of these cases, negligent behaviors like impaired driving distracted driving, speeding, failing to yield, or making improper turns could cause a fatal accident. For example, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, from December 2021 to January 2022, there were 443 fatalities, and 23% of them were due to drunk driving.
Truck accidents are also particularly devastating due to their large size. When it comes to commercial vehicles, these types of accidents are the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States.
Motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents are also at a greater risk of causing catastrophic and fatal injuries on the road due to their lack of protection compared to other vehicles. This can lead to severe injuries such as traumatic brain injuries (TBI), internal bleeding, and spinal cord injuries that are more likely to prove fatal.
Construction Accidents and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
While Texas does not require employers to carry worker’s compensation insurance, per the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), those who opt out of coverage can be subject to personal injury claims. In addition, for wrongful death victims who suffered a fatal injury in the “course and scope” of employment, their surviving loved ones can pursue monetary compensation with a wrongful death construction accident claim.
The most common type of construction workplace accidents include:
- Falls caused by a lack of proper safety equipment, guardrails, scaffolding, uncovered manholes, and other fall protection equipment.
- Flying or falling objects striking construction workers or construction sites, bystanders.
- Cave-ins or heavy machinery errors cause the victim to be compressed or crushed.
- Electrocutions caused by unsafe machinery, defective equipment, or exposed wiring.
Oil Field Accidents and Wrongful Death Claims
Working in an oil field is dangerous, and workers are susceptible to injuries that could quickly turn fatal. Common injuries include:
- Broken bones from falls
- Burns from fire or chemicals
- Traumatic brain injuries from being struck by an object or falling
If your loved one was killed in an accident while working in an oil field, your wrongful death claim may involve the Jones Act, the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA), which could affect your deceased loved one’s rights. OSHA regulations also apply to these accidents. It can increase your compensation if we prove OSHA’s rules were violated.
Trucking Accidents and Wrongful Death Claims
Due to state and federal regulations, wrongful death claims after fatal trucking accidents can be especially complex. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires all truck drivers and trucking companies to comply with regulations as per 49 CFR Part 395.
This includes setting limits on driver schedules and requiring drivers to keep logs of their driving time. It also includes:
- Limits on how long truck drivers can drive without taking breaks
- The size of the load a truck can carry
- Vehicle maintenance schedules
- Rules for drug and alcohol intake
In addition to these federal guidelines, The Texas Department of Public Safety also regulates intrastate truck drivers. This state agency regulates load and weight limitations, licensing and registration, equipment restrictions, and seatbelt use.
Our wrongful death lawyers will examine the evidence in your case and determine which parties violated these regulations and can be held accountable for your loss.
Additional Wrongful Death Cases We Handle
Anytime someone’s careless action or inaction causes harm, including death, victims can pursue legal action to obtain damages. This could include scenarios like:
- Slip and fall cases causing traumatic brain injuries
- Dog attacks causing fatal injuries, infections, or sepsis
- Swimming pool accidents leading to accidental drowning
- Trampoline accidents that cause fatal head or spine injuries
- Maintenance failures causing carbon monoxide poisoning
- Defective products like ones that lead to cancer or other illnesses
Following a fatal accident, you may not realize how fault works in your case. By consulting our wrongful death team, you can learn more about what happened, if it could have been prevented, and how to hold the correct parties accountable.
How Does the Texas Statute of Limitations Affect Filing Deadlines?
Eligible family members or executors typically have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit under Texas Civ. Prac. and Rem. Code § 16.003. However, the statute of limitations is dated from the decedent’s passing. Thus, if your loved one suffered a truck accident and spent several weeks in the hospital before their passing, the deadline for filing a lawsuit would be two years from the death, not the accident.
You can use these two years to investigate and build your case, so don’t delay reaching out for help. Even if you are pursuing a wrongful death insurance claim, we could still prepare for a lawsuit in case negotiations break down.
Moreover, the statute of limitations helps us preserve evidence. Witnesses may forget what happened, or records may be lost if too much time has passed since an accident. Working within this deadline can therefore be to our advantage.
Particular scenarios can cause the statute of limitations to be delayed. For instance, if your loved one was killed in a hit-and-run accident, the deadline may be extended until the guilty party is found.
Surviving children can also potentially have longer to file a lawsuit if they were minors when the accident occurred. Similarly, suppose surviving family members were incapacitated at the time of the death, such as in the same accident. In this case, the statute of limitations might not begin until they can file a lawsuit.
How Our Wrongful Death Attorneys Support Surviving Loved Ones
Many people equate lawyers with lawsuits, but our team goes beyond and helps with insurance claims, evidence gathering, and clarifying your rights and options. Think of us as a source of information and assistance. We encourage you to come to us with your questions, which is why we offer a free initial consultation.
To make you even more at ease, we also work on a contingency-fee-basis. This means you don’t pay anything out of pocket, no court fees, investigative costs, or expenses for our help.
We discuss our payment only once we have won or settled your case. So consider it an additional assurance that we will stay dedicated to your case.
How We Handle Insurance Companies in Texas Wrongful Death Claims
Meeting with the insurance company is essential to any Houston wrongful death case. We’ll deal with them directly on your behalf. During this difficult time, you should not have to haggle over the details of your loved one’s claim. We will:
- Handle phone calls and emails with adjusters.
- Review paperwork or settlement offers.
- Ensure you don’t receive a lowball offer.
- Take the lead on discussions and negotiations.
- Work to keep the claims process from dragging.
- Hold adjusters and companies accountable.
- Fight back against bad faith practices.
We Evaluate Your Wrongful Death Claim or Lawsuit
Making sure an insurance company or negligent party isn’t offering you less than you deserve requires knowing what you do deserve.
So our attorneys conduct an independent investigation and review your losses to ensure we fight for the appropriate amount.
We Negotiate and Review Paperwork
Knowing your case’s value allows us to negotiate fair settlement terms with insurance companies or negligent parties. In addition, we translate complicated legal language, inform you of your rights, represent you in negotiations, and give you time to review your options.
We Prepare for Court
Many cases settle out of court, but we are committed to taking your case as far as necessary. Much of the evidence and work we do to settle can also be put toward building a court case if all parties can’t agree. Although we work to resolve your case quickly, we won’t back down from a fight.
How Our Wrongful Death Lawyers in Houston Build a Case
In all the above examples of wrongful death cases, we highlight the importance of negligence. This is what sets preventable events apart from unpreventable accidents. Negligence involves:
- Duty of care: Someone had an obligation to warn about a hazard, take steps to prevent injury, or behave in a way that avoided causing a death.
- Violation of duty: That party failed in their duty, such as a property owner who didn’t put up signs about a puddle, a doctor who didn’t check a patient’s allergies before prescribing medication, or a driver who was behind the wheel while drunk.
- Fatal injuries suffered: Due to violating the duty of care, your family member suffered a fatal accident, such as a fall, malpractice, roadway crash, or other preventable situation.
- Damages warranted: Because of the violation of the duty of care and the loss of a loved one, you and your family are entitled to economic and non-economic damages.
We will collect evidence of these four elements and connect negligent actions with a responsible party and your losses.
Negligent Parties in Motor Vehicle Accidents
If you lost your family member to an accident on a Houston roadway, various parties could be at fault for your loss. We’ll hold responsible parties accountable such as:
- Other drivers who performed negligent actions like speeding and drunk driving
- Automakers and designers who made errors in design or manufacturing
- Maintenance shops and dealerships that failed to notice or fix a problem
- Rideshare, trucking, and other companies that are responsible for employee actions
- Government entities that fail to maintain public spaces or vehicles
Fault can even be shared. For example, a trucking company employee might not have loaded an 18-wheeler correctly, leading to a cargo spill on the freeway and causing a fatal accident. In this case, the employee and the company might be responsible.
Likewise, your family member’s accident may have involved a negligent driver and a poorly maintained road. Again, this would make the driver and the government responsible.
Negligent Parties in a Construction Accident that Leads to Wrongful Death
If you lost your loved one due to a construction accident that resulted in a wrongful death, there might be one or more negligent parties you can file a claim against. These can include:
- General contractors
- Other trade contractors
- Equipment manufacturers
- Equipment rental companies
Since fault can be split between several parties, and those parties may try to blame each other to avoid responsibility, our attorneys will step in to determine how to recover wrongful death damages from everyone involved.
Other Possible Negligent Parties in Your Family’s Wrongful Death Case
Other cases of wrongful death could point to negligence by several additional parties. If necessary, we’ll file a claim against:
- Property owners
- Product manufacturers
- Construction companies
- Government entities
- Independent contractors
- Safety inspectors
Property owners are responsible for cleaning up spills, installing adequate lighting, posting about hazards, restraining animals, and providing security. Failures in those and other premises maintenance areas are grounds for a case. Government entities are bound to similar obligations.
Companies and contractors also have a duty of care to customers and clients to offer safe products, services, and sites. Construction or remodeling accidents, improperly installed equipment, product defects or designs, and marketing failures can all be the basis for a wrongful death claim or suit if they cause a fatality.
Safety inspectors and other regulators are also expected to do their job to notice mistakes and prevent accidents.
Evidence Our Houston Wrongful Death Lawyers Use To Support Your Claim
Filing a claim or personal injury lawsuit against a negligent party is evidence. In fatal accidents, we will explore evidence like:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Receipts and bills
- Photographs of the accident site
- Photographs of injuries
- Eyewitness accounts
- Accident reconstruction
- Analysis by experts
- History of liable parties
We utilize experts like accident reconstructionists and medical professionals to add legitimacy to your case. For medical care malpractice cases, this could mean shedding light on the nuances of a surgical procedure. For motor vehicle accidents, professionals could demonstrate the mechanics of the crash.
Not only does evidence bolster a claim of negligence, but it also illustrates what you, your family, and the deceased suffered. Thus, on top of identifying the negligent party and highlighting their carelessness, evidence will help us demonstrate the damages you need.
Personalized Evidence Could Benefit Your Wrongful Death Case
Just as we personalize damages to each case, our wrongful death law firm attorneys will personalize evidence depending on the type of accident. Some additional support we use includes:
- Blood alcohol content (BAC) tests
- Drug testing
- Text messages
- Social media postings
- Traffic camera footage
- Timeline of events
- App usage
- Truck transportation logs
- Previous complaints
- Inspection reports
BAC and drug tests can point to a driver or employee being impaired during an accident. Likewise, texts, social media, and app usage can show a record of distracted driving or catch people in a lie.
Timelines are especially useful in premises liability cases, showing when a property owner was or should have been aware of the hazard that claimed your family member’s life.
Your case may involve more specific evidence, including testimony from unique specialists. When we investigate your case, we track down any lead and use any possible data to help your family receive justice.
Criminal vs. Civil Cases of Wrongful Death
Some wrongful death cases also involve criminal charges against the responsible party. Charges can range from violating traffic laws to manslaughter or homicide. If convicted, the guilty party could face the consequences like jail time, fines, community service, counseling, and sex offender registration.
However, criminal cases don’t award damages to victims. Criminal and civil cases are completely independent of each other.
The former holds someone accountable for violating the law, while the latter holds them accountable for the personal damage they caused to the surviving family members. Moreover, even if someone is not convicted in a criminal court, they might still be held accountable in a civil case.
Unique Cases for Civil Lawsuits
In some cases, if a party could have deterred or prevented criminal conduct, they can be held responsible in civil court. This is common if a property owner or manager, like an apartment complex, fails to take reasonable precautions to protect its residents or guests from foreseeable criminal behavior.
Consequently, pursuing a civil lawsuit can provide closure and financial compensation for families not found in a criminal case. Pursuing civil action is not about quantifying your loved one’s life but recognizing their loss and how it has affected you.
Get Your Free Wrongful Death Case Consultation Today
The team at Domingo Garcia is ready to take on your case so you can focus on processing, grieving, and healing. Our wrongful death attorneys can review your Houston case today to go over the grounds of your case, talk about damages, and start strategizing, all at no cost to you.
Call us or fill out the contact form on our website today for a free case consultation.