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It is always difficult to lose a loved one, especially if this loss was caused by another’s negligence. While no amount of money can replace a lost loved one, it is important to hold those responsible for negligent behavior accountable while helping to ensure your loss does not leave you in dire financial straits.
If you have lost a loved one in an accident, call the Houston wrongful death lawyers at Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation. If we don’t win your case, you will not owe us anything.
For a free legal consultation with a wrongful death lawyer serving Houston, call 800-863-5312
WHAT IS WRONGFUL DEATH AND WHO CAN FILE A CLAIM?
If, through negligent or intentional behavior, someone caused an accident that has resulted in the death of a loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit to seek compensation for financial as well as emotional damages. In Texas, only the victim’s spouse, parents, or children may file a wrongful death claim. Siblings may not file wrongful death claims.
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COMMON WRONGFUL DEATH ACCIDENTS
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Car accidents are frequent occurrences, and tragically, some may be fatal. Negligent behavior may be the cause of an accident if the at-fault driver was driving while distracted, driving while intoxicated, asleep at the wheel, or driving recklessly. Car accidents are one of the most common causes of fatal accidents and wrongful deaths in the Houston area, with 253 victims dying in car accidents in Houston in 2019, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
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Due to the large size and weight discrepancy, accidents involving large trucks are more likely to be serious and cause fatalities. Shipping companies attempting to transport goods as quickly as possible may lead to negligent behavior that can cause accidents, such as fatigued drivers who have been on the road too long without a rest. The driver, shipping company, or loading company may be liable for these types of accidents.
The workplace can often be a dangerous place. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure proper safety precautions are taken to prevent accidents. Failure to provide safety equipment or ensure safety rules are being followed can result in a fatal accident. Employers who fail to take the proper precautions to keep their employees safe may be liable for accidents that arise due to such a failure.
We depend on a variety of manufactured goods in our everyday lives, and a faulty design or manufacturing defect may create the product to malfunction, even when used correctly, which may cause a fatal accident. A design defect is a condition that makes the product unreasonably dangerous when considering the use of the product and the risks of its use. To prove there was a design defect, the wrongful death claim will typically have to prove that there was a safer alternative design that the manufacturer could have used. The designer or manufacturer of a defective product may be liable for these kinds of accidents.
Fatal accidents may also happen to those most dependent on others for their protection. Accidents at daycare may be fatal in some cases for a young child. These accidents may be due to a daycare worker’s failure to properly supervise the child.
We depend on doctors to help keep us healthy, but sometimes if a physician is negligent in their care for a patient, it may lead to a deterioration in health or even death. This negligence may take the form of a misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, or a botched surgery. When medical malpractice results in the death of a patient, the doctor, hospital, or both may be liable.
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WHAT TO DO AFTER A LOVED ONE HAS BEEN KILLED
1. Get an Autopsy
After a loved one has been killed in an accident, it is critical to have proof of the victim’s cause of death. Depending on the nature of the accident, the cause of death may be obvious, but in many situations, it isn’t as clear. An autopsy can give you a detailed and thorough report describing the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. In some cases, the city or county may perform the autopsy. However, you may need to arrange for a private autopsy if the city or county does not perform one on the victim. The autopsy will generally need to be arranged and performed as soon as possible after the victim’s death to provide the most detailed and accurate evidence as to the cause of your loved one’s death.
2. Preserve Available Evidence
Aside from an autopsy, any available evidence should be preserved to help your attorney support your wrongful death claim. Any evidence of the scene of the accident, such as photographs, video, or any machinery or other objects involved in the accident should be carefully preserved. Other important evidence may include safety equipment, training materials or manuals, police reports, and witness contact information or statements. In some cases, your lawyer may also need to obtain a court order to protect some evidence, such as any evidence in the possession of the other party or an insurance company, or that may otherwise be at risk of being destroyed or lost.
3. Consult A Houston Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have recently lost a loved one in an accident, you should consult a Houston lawyer. It is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Consulting an attorney quickly may give your attorney access to necessary evidence and witnesses while they are still fresh and available. Your lawyer may be able to identify parties who may be liable for your loved one’s death and ensure you seek compensation within the applicable legal time limits. Your lawyer may conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence to support your claim, including by interviewing evidence or investigating the scene of the accident. Your attorney may then use evidence to negotiate a settlement agreement with the insurance company to avoid the expenses of a trial. If you can’t reach a settlement, your attorney may then take your case to trial to argue your Houston wrongful death lawsuit in front of a judge or jury.
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TYPES OF WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
Often after someone has been injured in an accident, that victim may sue the party liable for their damages. However, in a wrongful death claim, the victim is deceased and cannot sue on their own behalf. Instead, the Texas Survival Statute allows a victim’s estate to file a personal injury claim, called a survival claim on behalf of the victim. This lawsuit seeks compensation for the pain and suffering the victim may have experienced before passing away. In a survival claim, the victim’s estate may pursue any compensation the victim may have been entitled to if the victim had lived.
Wrongful Death Claim
The Texas Wrongful Death Act also allows certain family members to pursue compensation after their loved one has been wrongfully killed as a result of the negligence or deliberate actions of another. Texas law requires that the accident have been caused by someone other than the victim, such as another driver, an employer or coworker, or an auto manufacturer or equipment manufacturer. Under the Wrongful Death Act, the victim’s children, parents, or a surviving spouse may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim for damages
HOW COMPENSATION MAY BE DIFFERENT FOR WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
In Texas, your Houston wrongful death lawyer may help you seek compensation for financial and emotional damages resulting from the wrongful death of a loved one, including:
You may be able to seek compensation for medical costs you incurred as a result of your loved one’s accident. This may include paying for the victim’s medical transportation, hospital stays, treatments, and medication.
Funeral costs may include compensation for funeral services and burial, costs of cremation, or related costs.
Loss of Potential Income
Plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit may seek damages for loss of potential income to make up for the income the deceased family member would have earned had they not passed away. Loss of potential income compensation is determined by numerous factors, including age, health before the accident, salary at the time of the accident, and the nature of the occupation.
You may be able to seek compensation for the physical, emotional, or mental anguish you may have suffered as a result of your loved one’s death.
Loss of Consortium
The victim’s spouse or child may seek compensation for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium compensates for the loss of love, companionship, and comfort after losing a loved one.
Loss of Parental Guidance
The victim’s children may seek compensation for the loss of parental guidance and the loss of a parental figure in the children’s lives.
Finally, Texas law may allow for punitive damages in some cases of wrongful death. Tex. Civ. Code Title 4 Sec. 71.009 permits punitive damages where the victim’s death was caused by a “willful act or omission or gross negligence of the defendant.”
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
In Texas, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death, meaning you must file a claim within these two years. However, the statute of limitations does not start at the date of death for minors who have lost their parents, but rather when they turn 18. The beginning of the two years within which a claim may be filed may also be altered if it is only later discovered that negligence may have caused the death.
GET A CASE EVALUATION FROM ZINDA LAW GROUP
At Zinda Law Group, our attorneys may assist you with your claim. We help our clients pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after a loved one has been wrongfully killed. You should not have to face this challenging time alone.
Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with one of our Houston personal injury attorneys. You will not pay anything unless we win your Houston wrongful death case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2021), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), & NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021)
AWARDED TO JACK ZINDA (2016-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2016 – 2020) & BURGESS WILLIAMS (2016-2017)
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA & JOE CAPUTO
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