Serving Justice

Houston Wrongful Death Attorney

Losing a loved one before his or her time is a devastating experience, especially when that death results from someone else’s negligence. A wrongful death lawsuit allows your family to secure compensation and justice on behalf of the deceased. While no amount of money can replace your loved one, a successful wrongful death lawsuit can provide you and your family with a sense of closure.

Wrongful Death Legal resources & Information

Why Hire Our Wrongful Death Lawyers?

At Ramsey Law Group, our wrongful death attorneys are empathetic towards victims of wrongful death cases, have years of experience and case success, and ensure that the needs of the families we serve are met. Ramsey Law Group provides clients with prompt answers to their legal questions and direct access to attorneys.

Ramsey Law Group is:

  • Nationally accredited and recognized;
  • Known for multiple top ten Texas and national case verdicts; and
  • Noted in both national and local news outlets regarding wrongful death cases.

Contact us now for a free wrongful death claim review whether you are in Houston or anywhere across the United States. At Ramsey Law Group, we only charge you fees if we win your case.

While a wrongful death claim seems overwhelming at the time of a loss, it is vital to consider for the future. Compensation in a wrongful death claim can enable your family to pay final expenses incurred at the time of the death, send older children of the deceased to college, or help support small children or dependents of the deceased.

Having a wrongful death attorney, like ours at Ramsey Law Group, takes the stress and burden of the legal claim off of you and your family and allows you time to heal. Our attorneys at Ramsey Law Group will handle your case, including:

  • Managing all insurance company calls and correspondence;
  • Contacting bill collectors to inform them of a pending claim;
  • Conducting an investigation into the death and collecting relevant evidence;
  • Identifying and pursuing all sources of compensation;
  • Calculating the total current and future losses resulting from your loved one’s death;
  • Negotiating a fair and full settlement with the insurance company; or
  • Filing a wrongful death lawsuit and proceeding towards trial.

Ramsey Law Group has the resources and knowledge to tackle the largest corporations and insurance companies. Our Houston wrongful death lawyers will work tirelessly to hold any responsible parties accountable for the wrongful death of your loved one. Contact Ramsey Law as soon as possible, so we can begin building your wrongful death claim.

Houston wrongful death attorney

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a civil claim, not a criminal prosecution. However, some wrongful death cases can lead to criminal investigations. Individuals file wrongful death claims seeking money damages from other individuals or corporations, while the state brings criminal charges against alleged offenders to punish the defendant with jail or prison time and fines.

A civil wrongful death case and a criminal charge can exist simultaneously; however, the civil case will likely face a delay until the criminal case resolves.

A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury claim. It arises when someone dies due to another person’s or corporation’s wrongful act or negligence.

Who Has the Right to Sue for Wrongful Death in Texas?

Only people with legal standing can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. While states differ, Texas allows the following people to file a wrongful death claim:

  • The spouse of the deceased: Whether the marriage was formal, by common law, or if the couple was separated, a surviving spouse can file a wrongful death claim. 
  • Children of the deceased: Even if they are adults. 
  • Parents of the deceased: If there is no spouse or surviving children, the deceased’s parents can file a wrongful death claim. 

Legally adopted children may file wrongful death claims on behalf of their adoptive parents and vice versa. However, adopted children may not pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of their biological parent(s). Texas does not allow siblings, grandparents, or other relations to file a wrongful death claim. If a surviving spouse, children, or parents fail to bring legal action within three months of the deceased’s death, then the executor or personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. However, if all surviving beneficiaries agree and request that a claim not be filed, then the estate cannot pursue one.

What Is Required to Prove Wrongful Death?

To successfully hold another party liable for wrongful death, the surviving family member or representative of the deceased’s estate must prove the following elements of negligence: 

  • Duty of Care: The at-fault party owed the deceased a duty of care. For example, in a wrongful death case involving a car accident, the at-fault driver owes a duty to others on the road to follow traffic laws. 
  • Breach of Duty: The at-fault party violated their duty by failing to act with the same level of care that a reasonable person would have shown in a similar situation, such as driving while intoxicated or running a red light. 
  • Causation: The at-fault party’s breach of their duty directly caused your loved one’s death. In other words, your loved one would not have died but for the at-fault party’s actions. 
  • Damages: There must be evidence that the surviving family or deceased’s estate suffered financial and/or personal losses as a result of the victim’s death. 

A Houston wrongful death attorney will be a valuable resource in helping you gather the necessary evidence to use as grounds for filing the wrongful death claim and to use as proof of liability. 

Is It Hard to Prove Wrongful Death?

In some wrongful death cases, liability is straightforward and easy to prove, but other cases are not clear-cut. They will require extensive investigation and proof of the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death and the cause. This may include:

  • Physical evidence from the scene
  • Photos or video evidence of the scene
  • Surveillance footage of the incident
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Accident reports
  • Cell phone records
  • Medical records
  • Death certificate
  • Expert witness testimony
  • Pay stubs and income records
  • Any other pertinent documentation 

To support your claim, a wrongful death attorney will often hire other professionals such as a private investigator, accident reconstruction expert, medical expert, etc., to assist in building a solid case. Their testimony and all other evidence gathered will be used to demonstrate exactly how your loved one died, who the liable parties are, and the amount of compensation your family is entitled to recover. 

Benefits of Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Texas 

Although a lawyer cannot guarantee a favorable outcome to your wrongful death case, the benefits of hiring representation are indisputable. A Texas wrongful death lawyer will know how to calculate the value of your case to ensure you do not settle for less. In addition, they understand the tactics used by insurance companies to minimize policyholders’ liability. If you go through the claims process alone, the insurance company may also try to shift the blame for the accident onto your loved one. Having legal representation protects your rights. An attorney will make sure liability falls on the appropriate party, and they will not be intimidated into accepting a lower than fair settlement offer. 

A Wrongful Death Lawyer Will Go to Trial for You

Over 95% of civil cases settle, but there is still a chance that your case will go to trial, especially if the insurer refuses to offer fair compensation. A wrongful death attorney will fight for your claim in court. They have the resources to hire experts and put together the strongest case possible. Often, simply filing a lawsuit will motivate the at-fault party’s insurance company to resolve the claim before trial. 

A Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Expedite the Claims Process

A wrongful death lawyer can typically help expedite the claims process, so your family receives justice and gets paid quicker. They will handle keeping track of all relevant evidence and can help you avoid common mistakes that can delay your claim—for example, paperwork errors, missing deadlines, a lack of evidence, etc. 

Wrongful Death Lawyers Work on a Contingency Fee Basis

Many wrongful death lawyers, including Ramsey Law Group, accept wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. That means there is no out-of-pocket risk for you, as we will advance all costs of pursuing your claim and will only get paid when you do. If your family does not win, you do not have to pay legal fees. 

How Much Money Can You Get in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The value of a wrongful death case can vary dramatically based on its unique factors. Settlements often range from $500,000 to several million, but these figures are only examples. An attorney will be able to estimate the value of your case after considering the following:

  • The type and severity of the accident.
  • The defendant’s degree of negligence and the strength of evidence proving their liability. 
  • The deceased’s age, habits, and occupation.
  • The deceased’s health prior to the accident. 
  • The number of years the deceased was expected to work.
  • The deceased’s income, benefits, and possible raises or promotions.
  • The deceased’s earning potential (e.g., education, skills, abilities).
  • Any retirement account contributions and benefits the deceased would have received had they lived. 
  • The needs of surviving dependents. 
  • Any reduction in inheritance suffered by surviving children.

These are only a few factors that can increase or decrease a wrongful death case’s value. For example, a wrongful death case filed on behalf of the loss of an elderly family member who had a surviving spouse but no children and was partially at fault for their accident will have a lower case value compared to a deceased victim who was young, survived by a spouse and young children, and who did not contribute to causing the accident. 

Modified Comparative Negligence 

Whether your loved one was partially responsible for the accident that led to their death can also have a significant impact on a wrongful death case’s value. Under Texas’s modified comparative negligence law, a wrongful death victim’s percentage of fault will reduce the case’s settlement or award. For example, if a surviving spouse is awarded $500,000, but their loved one was 30 percent to blame, the spouse will only receive 70% of the award, or $350,000. 

Cap on Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

If your wrongful death case involves medical malpractice, Texas law places a cap on the amount of compensation you can recover. Any non-economic damages awarded (e.g., emotional distress, loss of consortium, other non-financial losses) cannot exceed $250,000 for each healthcare provider involved, up to $750,000 max, regardless of the number of defendants. 

Cap on Damages in Government Claims

If a government employee or agency is named as a defendant in a wrongful death case, the Texas Tort Claims Act limits the compensation a family can recover. Those caps are as follows: 

  • Up to $250,000 per defendant or $500,000 per case for bodily injuries and miscellaneous costs. 
  • Up to $100,000 for property damage.

Unfortunately, if the economic damages exceed the state’s cap, you cannot recover compensation for emotional distress and other non-economic losses. 

Are Punitive Damages Recoverable in Wrongful Death Actions?

In some wrongful death cases, a judge can approve punitive damages, also referred to as exemplary claims. Punitive damages are only available in a few specified circumstances as they are intended to:

  • Further punish the defendant for egregious negligence or criminal wrongdoing. Most wrongful death lawsuits are based on the fact that the defendant acted negligently. However, in some cases, a defendant’s negligence may rise to the level of “willful and wanton” behavior, they intentionally inflicted harm or acted with an extremely reckless disregard for the safety of others. 
  • Set an example by dissuading the defendant and others from behaving similarly in the future. This is why punitive damages can be referred to as an exemplary claim because the compensation serves as an example of how such an offense will be punished. 

In Texas, punitive damages are capped at $200,000 or double the non-economic damages value (e.g., emotional distress, loss of companionship, etc.), up to $750,000, whichever is greater.

Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims

People die every day due to the negligent or wrongful acts of other people or corporations. In the United States, the most common accidents resulting in wrongful death claims are:

  • Car accidents;
  • Truck accidents;
  • Motorcycle accidents;
  • Premises liability accidents, such as slip and falls and animal attacks;
  • Product liability accidents, including defective parts or equipment used in vehicles;
  • Medical malpractice errors, like birthing errors and surgical mistakes;
  • Accidental poisonings, overdoses, and medication errors;
  • Recreational accidents;
  • Workplace accidents both indoors and on outdoor job-sites; and
  • Workplace illnesses.

While any one of these accidents may constitute a personal injury claim, once the injured victim passes away from their injuries, the claim becomes a wrongful death claim. The family essentially takes the victim’s place in the personal injury claim and pursues compensation on behalf of the deceased.

Compensation in Wrongful Death Claims

Compensation in a wrongful death claim includes money damages for debts of the decedent’s estate and compensation for surviving family members. Damages include both economic or calculable losses, as well as intangible, non-economic losses. Payment can consist of any of the following:

  • Medical and burial expenses;
  • Loss of current and future monetary support;
  • Lost inheritance;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • Loss of companionship;
  • Loss of care, counsel, or services;
  • Mental anguish of the deceased before death; and
  • Pain and suffering of the deceased prior to death.

In some cases, the court awards punitive or exemplary damages in wrongful death lawsuits. The court grants these types of damages for grossly negligent behavior or a willful act or omission on behalf of the at-fault party. Punitive damages are a punishment dealt out to the defendant by the court. They are meant to deter future wrongdoers.

Additional Wrongful Death Resources:

Time Limits

To receive any damages award, Texas requires family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the decedent’s death. Other states have similar timelines. It is best to discuss particular state requirements with an experienced wrongful death lawyer at Ramsey Law Group.

Call Ramsey Law Group Today

 

Wrongful death claims are complicated and time-consuming. Contact Ramsey Law Group to find out if you have standing to file a claim in your state. Our Houston wrongful death attorneys will listen and answer your questions to determine the proper legal path for your situation.