Experiencing the sudden and tragic death of a loved one can be a life-changing experience that causes a tremendous amount of anguish, emotional distress, and financial uncertainty. Knowing that another party is responsible for your loved one’s recent death can make this situation even more difficult to bear. A wrongful death occurs whenever the actions of one party, whether intentional or negligent, result in the death of another person.
Typically, when one party injures another party due to negligence or intentional misconduct, the injured party has the right to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for their losses. When the victim does not survive this type of experience, their loved ones are left to seek alternative legal recourse. Generally, wrongful death claims replace personal injury claims when victims do not survive the actions of others. The victim’s surviving family would have the primary right to file a wrongful death claim in response to this situation.
If you recently lost a loved one due to the actions of another party in the Houston, TX, area, the attorneys of Stevenson & Murray can assist you in holding them accountable. A successful wrongful death claim can potentially recover compensation for you and your family. While money will not replace your lost loved one or measure up to the emotional losses you and your other family members have experienced, it can provide peace of mind as you adjust to your new reality.
Attempting to represent your own civil claim is incredibly difficult, especially for complex and emotionally stressful civil claims like wrongful death cases. If you were to try to represent yourself and your family without a lawyer in a Houston wrongful death claim, you could jeopardize your family’s ability to recover compensation for the wrongful death. Even if the at-fault party’s responsibility for your loved one’s wrongful death is abundantly clear, the procedural steps you must complete to hold them accountable are more complicated than the average person typically expects.
Representing your wrongful death claim would mean meeting stringent court filing deadlines and various other procedural rules as you handle your day-to-day personal and professional obligations. Do not make an already challenging situation even more stressful for you and your loved ones by attempting to handle everything yourself. A Houston wrongful death lawyer will help you build your case, guide you through the civil court system, and provide detailed answers to your legal questions to approach this difficult situation with peace of mind. Legal representation you can trust makes the procedural side of your case more manageable and provides valuable reassurance and guidance when emotional distress causes uncertainty and frustration.
Wrongful death cases are very similar to personal injury cases in several ways. Therefore, it’s vital to understand the procedural rules involved in this case if you plan to speak with a Houston wrongful death lawyer about your claim. First, you must account for the statute of limitations or time limit for filing a wrongful death claim. Texas state law allows you to file your claim within two years of your loved one’s death. If you wait too long and this window passes, you will be unable to file a wrongful death case.
If the cause of your loved one’s death is unknown for some time following the death, and you later discover that another party is responsible for causing the death, the “discovery” rule applies. This rule states that the statute of limitations begins upon discovery of a cause of death and not the date of the death itself.
Texas state law also limits who may file wrongful death claims. Generally, surviving spouses, children, and parents of the deceased have the primary right to file wrongful death claims. However, if the deceased had no close family, a personal representative of the deceased’s estate, anyone who can prove a valid legal claim to the deceased’s estate, or anyone financially dependent on the deceased might have grounds to file this type of civil claim.
Like personal injury claims, wrongful death claims hinge on proving negligence or a failure to exercise reasonable caution and care in a given situation. However, it is also possible for a wrongful death case to revolve around proving intentional misconduct caused the death in question. Should another party cause a wrongful death due to an intentional action or omission, the at-fault party faces much harsher penalties and may even qualify for criminal prosecution.
It’s important to remember that while personal injury claims aim to compensate victims of other parties’ negligence and intentional misconduct, a wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the victim’s surviving family. The damages available in most wrongful death cases include:
While a wrongful death claim can potentially secure substantial compensation for the family’s losses, it does not seek damages incurred by the deceased’s estate. If the deceased’s estate would have grounds for damages typically seen in a personal injury case, such as medical expenses and pain and suffering, the family could file a survival action in conjunction with the wrongful death claim.
If a defendant’s behavior was exceptionally negligent, or if they caused the death in question due to criminal action or intentional harm against the victim, the judge handling the claim may also award punitive damages. In addition, if the defendant faces criminal charges for causing the death, the judge handling their criminal case could include restitution as part of sentencing.
Ultimately, any wrongful death claim can be an extremely stressful ordeal, and navigating this type of case successfully will come down to the skill and reliability of your legal team. Stevenson & Murray has years of experience providing comprehensive, compassionate, and responsive legal representation to clients facing challenging wrongful death claims in the Houston area. If you are ready to discuss your case with a Houston wrongful death attorney, contact us today and schedule a case evaluation with our team.
Our Houston Wrongful Death Attorneys Will Fight on Your Behalf
Regardless of the circumstances, the loss of a loved one is arguably the most painful experience in a person’s life. Losing a loved one due to wrongful death can make the grief all the more difficult to endure. If someone’s negligent actions caused injuries that resulted in your loved one’s death, then that may be considered “wrongful death”. In these cases, the surviving family members generally have the right to pursue legal action. The laws vary quite a bit from state to state, however. Therefore, consulting with one of the knowledgeable wrongful death attorneys from Stevenson & Murray is in your best interest. There is no charge for an initial consultation.
Enduring the loss of a loved one due to wrongful death is one of the most trying circumstances that one can go through. All of the emotions you are likely feeling may seem insurmountable and suffocating. You should spend your energy attending to you and your family’s needs in order to start the healing process. Do not add the stress of pursuing a wrongful death claim alone — you already have so much to contend with. Allow one of our local Houston wrongful death attorneys to help take some of the stress off when it comes to pursuing appropriate compensation in a wrongful death claim.
The strongest defense a family has in a wrongful death claim is an experienced wrongful death attorney. Since opening our doors, we have dedicated our careers to building a sterling reputation out of successfully representing wrongfully injured victims and their families. We are here to help during this difficult time and go to great lengths to get our clients justice. Our attorneys advocate for our clients, defending their rights, and we can do the same for you. By providing us with the details of your case, we can identify your options and start working on your claim. The last thing you want to do is wait to contact us.
When someone’s negligence or misconduct causes someone’s death, the remaining survivors or family members may file a wrongful death claim against the parties responsible. The claim then seeks to compensate the claimants for their losses, including the loss of wages and companionship, as well as funeral and medical expenses. Once approved, settlement money is paid to surviving spouses, parents, children, or to the estate.
Some of the most common wrongful death claims in Texas occur as a result of negligence, car accidents, drunk driving, manslaughter, assault and battery, and murder. In the US, common wrongful death claims include truck and bicycle accidents, defective products, and work-related accidents or construction-work accidents.
Work-related wrongful death claims are often filed due to railroad worker injuries, manufacturing accidents, barge and towboat accidents, transportation industry accidents in general, and asbestos and mesothelioma diagnosis. Other reasons for wrongful death claims include nursing home abuse and medical malpractice. Medical malpractice claims often cite such negligent acts as misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose and surgical errors or mistakes made during treatment as responsible for the wrongful death of a victim.
To prove wrongful death, the party filing the claim must prove to the court that the defendant had a duty to care for the wrongful death victim’s safety. By their negligence, they did not follow their duty, and as a result, the victim died. This is often difficult to prove, especially when insurance companies are involved because they are in the business of dismissing and diminishing claims. This is one reason a wrongful death attorney is so important to have by your side.
Other reasons you need a Houston attorney who is educated in Texas wrongful death laws with successful past claim experience include:
During your wrongful death case, the law will often take age into account when it assesses the survivor’s losses. Due to the fact that your loved one cannot be replaced, the law is at a disadvantage to truly compensate you for the loss. Money is one measure that the legal system can objectively use to reflect what has been lost.
When an adult suffers a wrongful death, it is usually easier to calculate what the economic losses would be to survivors and can compensate accordingly. It is much more challenging to quantify the loss of a newborn, a child, or an elderly family member, as it largely comes down to the loss of companionship and love. Due to these and other contributing factors, the amount of awarded compensation and how it is determined will vary from case to case.
If you have experienced the loss of a loved one due to wrongful death, the last thing you may want to think about is how your legal rights are affected. The unfortunate truth is, however, that the law allows legal action to be taken only for a limited period of time after an incident involving wrongful death. This time period is called the statute of limitations. When this period has elapsed, you will no longer have the option of filing a lawsuit. Further, the specific statutes of limitations for filing will vary from state to state. For this reason alone, it is highly recommended that you seek professional Houston wrongful death attorneys if you are thinking about pursuing a legal claim.
The “Discovery Rule” can ultimately affect when the above statute of limitations clock starts ticking. Typically, that clock starts from the time of the incident. However, say for example that your loved one did not realize he or she was injured from the incident until it was too late. If this is the case, then the statutes of limitations clock begins upon the discovery of the injury — not the time of the incident. That being said, this is only an option in states that recognize the Discovery Rule. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you determine state-specific rules and regulations that apply to you and your case.
Legal actions for wrongful death are often complex, especially when the harmful acts of several parties are contributing factors in an individual’s death. Some parties may settle the matter before the case goes to trial while others may want to contest the claim and see a case all the way to an end verdict. No matter who the defendant is, the amount and type of financial recovery the plaintiff can make depends on the law of the state in which the case takes place.
A criminal case can only be brought by the government. The prosecutor makes a case against the person accused of a crime, seeking prison time or another punishment. The prosecutor must meet a higher standard of proof than in a civil case. A civil case can be filed by anyone whose private rights or civil rights have allegedly been violated by another party. When a private party files a civil lawsuit for wrongful death, the party is seeking monetary damages as compensation for the loss suffered. A civil trial for wrongful death, therefore, is very different from a criminal trial for murder or manslaughter.
In many states, the baby must be born alive for its death to be the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit. This is not always the case, however. In some states, the fetus must have been viable (able to live outside the mother’s womb) even though it was not born; in other states, viability is not an issue. Because the law varies so much from state to state, it is wise to consult a personal injury attorney who knows the laws in your area.
No. Because states make their own wrongful death laws, they differ quite a bit. Sometimes, you may have a choice of the state in which you file a lawsuit. This is an important decision. The length of time each state gives a plaintiff to file a wrongful death lawsuit may be different, along with the type of monetary damages the state will allow the plaintiff to recover.
Punitive damages are an extra monetary penalty against the party found legally responsible in a civil lawsuit. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer rather than to compensate the person who was harmed. They are usually awarded because the wrongdoer’s behavior was reckless or malicious. Some, but not all, jurisdictions allow punitive damages in wrongful death cases. Your attorney can tell you more.
If a person dies because of the injuries that would have been the subject of the lawsuit, then his or her representative or heirs may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit; depending on the state, they may also be able to file the personal injury lawsuit. If an injured person dies of other causes, then his or her representative or heirs usually can file the personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. Each state treats the situation according to its own laws; competent legal advice can help you sort out your state’s approach.
Even if a loved one never had a job, he or she might have contributed to the family in other ways. The plaintiff may be compensated for services the deceased person had been providing and would have continued to provide. This includes housekeeping, childrearing, and similar activities. In some states, the plaintiff also may recover for the loss of companionship in addition to medical and funeral expenses. If the loved one was in school to prepare for a profession, this could also be taken into consideration.
While a wrongful death award compensates the survivor, a pain and suffering award normally compensates the person who experienced the pain and suffering. Some states allow pain and suffering to be included in a wrongful death lawsuit; others do not. The pain and suffering must have been due to the injuries that eventually caused death, and the person who died must have been conscious enough to experience the pain and suffering..
Yes. The calculation of damages, however, may be different than for a parent who supported a family. Rather, the calculation of damages will likely focus on the non-monetary contributions or the services that the deceased child or elderly person provided to the family.
If you have suffered the death of a loved one, then you may feel like your whole world is coming down around you. It is an unfortunate, emotional and overwhelming position to be in — and often, an entirely preventable one. Take comfort in knowing that there are professionals who can fight by your side. Any of our local Houston wrongful death attorneys know what it takes to secure you and your family’s future.If you have questions about a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, we encourage you to contact the Houston law office of Stevenson & Murray, Attorneys at Law today to discuss your rights and legal options in a free consultation. During this initial meeting, you can sit down with a leading personal injury and wrongful death trial attorney to go over your case and discuss what steps to take next. Call today to see how we can help you.
No matter what the age of the loved one you have lost, the grief is powerful. The law, however, often takes age into account when it assesses your loss. Because your loved one cannot be replaced, the law is at a disadvantage to truly compensate you. Money is one measure that the legal system can objectively use to reflect what has been lost. For more information on how the law applies to the wrongful death of your child or elderly relative, contact Stevenson & Murray in Houston, TX, today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney.
When an adult dies, it is easier for a court to quantify the economic loss. The court can consider the wages the person earned and how he or she contributed to the finances of the family. A minor child (under the age of 18) is typically not contributing to the household income, but a child contributes in other ways. Parents therefore can recover, in most states, for the loss of the child’s companionship and affection.
Parents who can recover for the death of a child generally include the child’s mother, the child’s acknowledged father or the child’s adoptive parents. People who act as the child’s parents, but are not legally the child’s parents, usually cannot recover compensation.
When an adult child suffers a wrongful death, the court may approach the situation from a different angle. For the parents to recover, often the child must have been contributing money to the parents’ household or providing valuable services to the parents. This view of the law, however, varies from state to state. Whether the child was married also may affect the parents’ rights.
The law changes when an unborn child has suffered a wrongful death. In some jurisdictions, the success of a wrongful death claim depends on whether the fetus was viable (able to live outside the womb) at the time of death. Other states allow or disallow such a wrongful death claim whether the fetus was viable or not. An experienced attorney can offer you insight on your own state’s laws.
The wrongful death of an elderly person can leave the spouse or children with a loss of both companionship and monetary contributions. The surviving spouse may have been relying on the pension of the deceased; if the pension plan does not have a survivorship benefit, the spouse may have lost quite a bit of money due to the death of his or her loved one. Many courts will take this into account when calculating damages. Courts also may take into account the companionship, guidance and affection provided by the elderly person to the children or spouse.
On the other hand, the court will also factor in the age of the decedent; the damages will be calculated taking all of these elements into consideration. Some courts also look at whether the loved one experienced pain and suffering before passing away.
Because the laws on wrongful death — especially the wrongful death of a young victim or older victim — are complex and change so dramatically from state to state, it is best to consult an attorney for guidance. Contact Stevenson & Murray in Houston, TX, today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney.
If you have experienced the loss of a loved one due to wrongful death, the last thing you may want to think about is how your legal rights are affected. The law surrounding wrongful death, however, allows legal action to be taken only for a limited period of time. When this period has elapsed, you will no longer have the option of filing a lawsuit. An personal injury attorney from Stevenson & Murray in Houston can answer your questions about how much time you have to take action.
A statute of limitations is a law that restricts the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit. It helps to ensure that the legal process moves forward and that evidence is still available and fresh in the minds of witnesses. When the statute of limitations has run out, there is no longer an entitlement to take legal action on a matter. This gives a serious responsibility to people who may wish to file a lawsuit.
The discovery rule can affect when the statute of limitations begins to run. In some cases, an injury that caused a wrongful death was not apparent when it first occurred; this is usually due to the nature of the injury itself. The statute of limitations will begin, then, at the time the injury is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.
Consider a statute of limitations that is, for instance, two years long. Normally, the clock would start ticking as soon as the injury occurred. But if the injury is reasonably discovered one year after it occurs, the two-year period begins on the day of discovery.
Not every state applies the discovery rule in the same way. How it is used also depends on the injury and other circumstances.
For most wrongful death cases, a state’s wrongful death statute sets out a simple time limit for taking legal action. The matter is more complicated, however, when it comes to injuries that call the discovery rule into play.
Sometimes, when a loved one suffers an injury, the injury may not become known for months or years after it occurs—perhaps not until it causes death. Other times, the cause of a wrongful death itself is not reasonably discovered until months or years later.
If an injury directly contributed to a death, the statute of limitations may begin at the time of injury or at the time of reasonable discovery. This could mean that the statute of limitations starts to elapse—and may even run out—before the death. This can occur, for example, in products liability cases involving injuries caused by defective or dangerous products.
Although the statute of limitations and the discovery rule may appear to complicate the legal process, the important thing to keep in mind is that there are time limits associated with taking legal action. Contact Stevenson & Murray today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney who can tell you when the statute of limitations expires and what your rights are right now.
Legal actions for wrongful death can be very complex, especially when the harmful acts of several parties contributed to an individual’s death. Some parties may settle the matter before the case goes to trial; others may see it all the way to a verdict. No matter who the defendant is, the amount and type of financial recovery the plaintiff can obtain depend on the law of the state in which the case takes place. Contact Stevenson & Murray in Houston, Texas, today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal rights.
In the distant past, there was no legal right to recover for a loved one’s wrongful death. Once a person died, the rights surrounding the cause of the death died, too. If a person was injured and filed a lawsuit on his or her own behalf, and that person died before the case concluded, the case simply was dismissed.
Seeing the unfairness of this system, legislatures passed laws called wrongful death statutes. Each state passed its own law, so the rules differ depending on the state. This is why it is so important to have the help of an attorney who knows the law in your state.
Although states have differing statutes permitting monetary damages in wrongful death lawsuits, most of them share some principles in common.
The death must have been caused by the wrongful actions of another. Someone must take legal action in response. This person is typically a surviving spouse, parent or child of the person who has passed away. Aunts and uncles, cousins and people who act as parents (but are not biological or adoptive parents) are usually not eligible to recover under a wrongful death statute.
Courts award damages for wrongful death based on varying theories, depending on their jurisdiction. Theories of recovery in wrongful death lawsuits include pecuniary loss; this means that the defendant must compensate the plaintiff for the money that the deceased would have provided had he or she lived. The amount includes income, pension distributions and even services such as taking care of the children. Another theory of recovery permits the plaintiff to collect compensation for the loss of love, companionship and guidance of the deceased. This is especially relevant for children who have lost a parent. Some states allow punitive damages against the defendant as well.
If you believe that you have a wrongful death claim based on the loss of your loved one, contact an experienced attorney today. The amount of time you have to file a legal action, and the type of damages you should ask the court to award you and your family, will vary depending on the specific laws of your state. A knowledgeable attorney at Stevenson & Murray in Houston, Texas, can help you sort out your options.
When going through such a traumatic circumstance, there are many resources you can try in order to start pursuing legal action — as well as the healing process. The following are some helpful links on the subject of wrongful death that you may find useful:
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
This governmental agency, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), provides comprehensive information on workplace safety and health. This could be a useful resource if your loved one suffered a wrongful death while he or she was at work.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA is part of the U.S. Department of Labor. It is responsible for protecting all employees of the United States by proposing and enforcing workplace safety and health measures. This is another helpful resource for those pursuing a wrongful death claim for a loved one who suffered a wrongful death in the workplace.
Medline Plus: Grief
While it is a difficult thing to face, it is important to pay attention and take care of yourself in the event that you lose a loved one. In order to effectively start a healthy grieving process, do not bottle up emotions, but rather find an outlet to release them. This website explores the stages and effects of grief and provides helpful information about how to take the first steps.
The CDC offers numerous links to information on how environmental factors like hazardous waste, carbon monoxide and asbestos can affect your health. If your loved one suffered a wrongful death due to harmful chemical exposure, this could be a useful resource to reference.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
This governmental agency provides information on recalled, potentially dangerous products and offers safety tips for the home. If your loved one suffered a wrongful death due to a malfunctioning or otherwise defective product, this could be an important resource to check.
Injury, Violence and Safety
The CDC features information on causes and prevention of accidents, including falls, drowning, mass casualties and more.
MedlinePlus: Injuries and Wounds
From the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the Institutes of Health, this website provides links to resources on injuries and accidents.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
The NHTSA is dedicated to educating the public on traffic safety and working to prevent serious accidents on American roads.
The NPSA is a nonprofit organization focused solely on protecting and improving patient safety.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.
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