Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer
Legally Reviewed By: Jud Waltman
The death of a loved one is always devastating, but death caused by the negligence of others is especially traumatic because it could have been prevented. It should not have happened. Accidental death is the third leading cause of death in Houston, with motor vehicle accidents being the leading cause of accidental deaths.
At The Lanier Law Firm, our wrongful death attorneys understand the grief wrongful death causes. We work tirelessly to hold those responsible who carelessly and needlessly cause the death of others. While no amount of financial compensation can make up for the loss of a beloved family member, financial support can ease the resulting financial burden and help family members restore their lives.
What is wrongful death in Houston?
According to Texas law, wrongful death occurs when death is the result of a wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. An individual does not have to be acting with malice to be liable for wrongful death.
Wrongful death law extends liability to the individual as well as to any company, agency, proprietor, or owner the individual represents. This means that if a death is caused by the negligent acts of an employee, such as a truck driver, the owner of the company is liable.
Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases in Houston
The most common causes of wrongful death are listed below.
Texas drivers experienced 41 fatal accidents involving commercial vehicles with 46 fatalities. Commercial vehicles are many times larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, which makes collisions especially deadly to occupants of passenger vehicles. Commercial drivers owe an extra duty of care due to their professional training and added risks their vehicles present.
The Texas Department of transportation recorded 482 motorcycle accident fatalities in 2020. Motorcycle accidents are often caused by motor vehicle drivers who are not watching for motorcycles. Motorcycle accident victims have high fatality rates due to the inherent lack of crash protection in motorcycles.
Texas has the highest rate of workplace fatalities of all US states. Texas is also one of the few states that do not require employers to carry workers’ compensation. In cases where employers do carry workers’ compensation, medical bills of the deceased will be covered, and family members may be able to collect lifetime death benefits, which amount to 75% of the employee's salary. Employers that carry workers’ compensation are protected from further liability unless you can prove gross negligence by the employer. Employers that do not carry workers’ compensation could face substantial liability.
Consumers have the right to expect products they buy to function safely and properly. Manufacturing defects and design flaws that make products unsafe expose manufacturers to liability when their defective products cause unnecessary deaths. The Lanier Law Firm has a long history of success in holding such companies accountable.
Defective Drugs and Medical Devices
A patient’s selection of a medical device or course of drug therapy is based upon trust that the products are safe and effective. Yet the FDA received 5.4 million reports of medical device issues from 2008 to 2017, and over 200,000 injuries from medical devices are reported annually. Prescription drugs cause 1.6 million injuries annually. There is no excuse for this egregious abuse of public trust. At The Lanier law firm, we have a long track record of successfully standing up to large drug companies on behalf of our clients.
Oilfields are an especially hazardous work environment. The death rate in oilfields is nearly five times higher than in other industries. Oilfield workers face such hazards as toxic gases, explosions, cancer-causing chemicals, and bone-crushing machinery on a daily basis. The exploration and production sectors of the oilfield industry are exempt from OSHA requirements, which increases risks to workers through lack of regulation and enforcement.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Falls are a leading cause of injury and death in the United States and Texas. Fall-related fatalities are on the rise, especially among those aged 65 and older. Falls are also one of the top three leading causes of workplace fatalities. Slips, trips, and falls are almost always preventable. Property owners and businesses who fail to provide safe environments free of fall hazards are liable when falls occur.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in Houston?
Wrongful death lawsuits may be filed by the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased. Siblings and other surviving family members are not authorized to file claims under Texas state law. The executor of the estate may file an action on behalf of the family if the family has not filed after three calendar months, but only the spouse, children, and parents can be beneficiaries of any resulting award.
Types of Wrongful Death Compensation
A wrongful death suit is a means to require responsible parties to compensate the immediate family for the financial losses and other hardships caused by the wrongful death. The three types of damages include economic, non-economic, and exemplary damages.
Economic losses include the verifiable monetary losses created by the death. This includes expenses incurred, such as funeral expenses and the pecuniary value of the decedent’s life. Pecuniary value includes lost wages, lifetime earning capacity, loss of care and services, and loss of inheritance. Families can also recover medical expenses and other economic damages that could have been claimed by the deceased had they lived.
Non-economic damages are subjective, non-monetary losses such as mental anguish and loss of companionship or parental guidance. Families can also recover damages for the pain and suffering of the deceased. There is no limit on the amount of non-economic damages you could receive, except in medical malpractice cases, in which case damages are capped at $500,000 and adjusted for inflation.
Exemplary damages are only available when the death was caused by fraud, malice, or gross negligence. Exemplary damages include punitive damages and are awarded as a penalty against the negligent party. Texas limits exemplary damages to the greater of $200,000 or the total of non-economic damages up to $750,000 plus two times the economic damages. Exemplary damages are often awarded in cases of drunk driving.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death
lawsuit in Houston?
The Texas statute of limitations for most wrongful death claims is two years from the date of death. However, it is imperative that you contact a Houston personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the death to allow sufficient time for your attorney to gather data, interview witnesses, obtain records and reports, and build your civil case.
How can the Houston wrongful death attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm help me with my wrongful death claim?
At The Lanier Law Firm, our purpose is to advocate for individuals harmed by the negligence of others. We are unafraid to go against any insurance company, pharmaceutical company, or other large company. Our long track record of success and historical verdicts have proven that individuals can win against giant companies. When you hire an experienced Houston personal injury attorney, you receive the same caliber of representation as the corporate giants.
We work on a contingency fee agreement, so you pay nothing unless and until we win you compensation. If your loved one has passed away because of someone else’s negligence, The Lanier Law Firm will provide you with the support, advocacy, legal advice, and representation you need during this difficult time to secure maximum compensation. Call us today at (713) 659-5200 to schedule a free consultation. Alternatively, you can schedule your free case evaluation using our easy contact form.
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