Losing a loved one can be devastating for a family. The grief and pain you feel after your loved one’s passing may be made worse if someone’s wrongful acts or omissions caused their death. If this happened to you, you might be entitled to compensation for your loss through a wrongful death claim against those responsible for your family member’s passing. It might also bring you a measure of peace to know those who are at fault have been held legally accountable for their actions.
If your family wants to hold those at fault accountable for your loved one’s death, turn to a personal injury lawyer in Pasadena, TX from The Callahan Law Firm. For more than 25 years, our law firm has helped Texans get the results they need. We advocate for people in Pasadena who have suffered injury and loss, fighting to make at-fault parties and their insurance companies provide our clients with full and fair compensation for the harm that they have endured.
Our firm purposely limits the number of cases we handle, so you can expect us to provide you and your family with the personal attention and maximum effort that you deserve. Our close focus on each client’s case means that we can pursue the maximum possible recovery you’re owed.
We’re ready to help as soon as you are ready to start pursuing accountability for your loved one’s death. Contact us for a free initial consultation with an experienced Pasadena wrongful death attorney and to learn more about your family’s rights and options for demanding financial compensation and justice in a wrongful death claim.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit refers to a legal action to recover financial compensation for losses associated with a person’s death when someone else’s conduct caused the death. Specifically, Texas Statute §71.002 states that a person can be held liable for an individual’s fatal injury if the injury was caused by a person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.”
In Texas, a wrongful death action may be brought only if the deceased individual could have made a personal injury claim had they survived. In other words, wrongful death cases must be based on the same kind of negligence or gross negligence as personal injury claims.
Wrongful Death Laws in Pasadena, TX
Wrongful death cases in Pasadena, Texas are controlled by the Texas Wrongful Death Statute which is codified in Title 4, Chapter 71 of the Texas Statutes. Texas’s Wrongful Death and Survival statute defines what constitutes a wrongful death claim, describes when a wrongful death claim may and may not be brought, and identifies parties entitled to file and recover compensation in a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts in Pasadena
In wrongful death cases, surviving family members might be entitled to recover compensation for the losses that the family experienced due to a loved one’s passing. This can include financial compensation for things like:
- Lost future expected earnings or financial contributions of the decedent
- Loss of the decedent’s companionship and society
- Loss of the decedent’s care, support, and maintenance
- Emotional trauma and distress experienced by surviving family members
In addition to compensation for the survivors’ losses, the wrongful death statute in Texas authorizes an award of exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages, when an individual’s death was caused intentionally or willfully by the responsible party or due to the responsible party’s gross negligence.
These Texas wrongful death laws also preserve the deceased individual’s cause of action due to their injury. This is called a Survival Claim and can be brought by the deceased’s estate.
In an estate or survival claim, the decedent’s estate could recover money for the monetary and other losses that the decedent experienced before and because of their death. These can include:
- Lost wages from between the time of injury and time of death
- Conscious pain and suffering experienced by the decedent
- Medical expenses to treat the decedent’s final injury or illness
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Estate administration expenses
How Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work?
A wrongful death lawsuit usually begins with a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances underlying the fatality. A good investigation should recover evidence that can be used both to explain the legal cause of the death and identify a party or parties that bear responsibility for inflicting the injuries or harm that led to the death.
It’s crucial to have experienced attorneys, like ours at The Callahan Law Firm, to understand all of the factors of the claim. In many cases, it’s necessary to hire accident reconstruction or medical experts to provide an opinion as to the decedent’s cause of death or how the at-fault parties were responsible for causing the death.
Once the attorneys or their investigators collect enough evidence to build a strong case, you or your attorney can begin the claims process by sending a demand for compensation to the at-fault party or parties and their insurers. The demand letter sets out the facts that establish the party’s liability for the death and requests fair monetary compensation. In most cases, the demand begins a settlement negotiation process, where both sides try to reach a mutually acceptable compensation figure to resolve your family’s claims against the at-fault party or parties.
In some wrongful death claims, it may become necessary to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in court. A lawsuit could prove complex and time-consuming, which is why it’s ideal to reach a settlement before this stage if possible. It can take months to exchange information and documents and take depositions of relevant witnesses during the part of the lawsuit known as discovery. Either party could file motions to try to resolve the case before trial.
Assuming the case is not settled, a lawsuit will eventually culminate in a trial. At this stage, a jury or judge would hear each side’s case and decide whether you and your family are entitled to compensation from the other side and how much money each eligible surviving family member will be awarded.
When May an Event Lead to a Claim of Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim can arise from any incident that would typically lead to a personal injury claim. Some of the most frequent events that lead to wrongful death claims include:
- Medical mistakes, including surgery errors, birth injuries, anesthesia errors, medication errors, misdiagnosis, and delayed diagnosis
- Car, truck, bus, or motorcycle collisions
- Boating accidents
- Dangerous consumer products
- Dangerous workplace conditions
- Slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, or falls from heights
- Pedestrian or bicycle crashes
- Oil rig accidents
- Offshore platform accidents
- Maritime accidents
- Environmental contamination or toxic exposure
- Criminal assault or homicide
Who Qualifies to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Texas’s wrongful death statute states that any combination of the deceased individual’s surviving spouse, surviving children, and surviving parents may bring a wrongful death claim. However, if none of these begins a wrongful death claim within three months of the death, the administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim unless all of the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and parents request that no claim be filed.
The wrongful death statute excludes other potential interested parties from eligibility to file a wrongful death claim. That includes surviving siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents, nephews and nieces, and other family members even if these people were financially dependent on the decedent at the time of their passing.
Regardless of who files a wrongful death claim, the wrongful death statute states that the action is brought on behalf of the deceased individual’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. If you don’t know if you qualify to bring a wrongful death claim, you should speak to an attorney to find out.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Texas
Under Texas’s statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits, you typically have two years from the date of your family member’s death to file a suit against the at-fault party or parties. Sometimes, this two-year period can be extended or “tolled.” If the at-fault party’s role in your loved one’s death was not discovered until later or the at-fault party commits fraud to conceal their responsibility, this might apply to your claim.
If you file suit after the statute of limitations expires, the defendant or defendants in your case can file a motion to dismiss your lawsuit permanently. This could mean losing your right to pursue compensation for your family member’s death. That’s why it’s crucial to contact a Pasadena wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
Contact a Pasadena Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If your family lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct, contact a Pasadena wrongful death lawyer from The Callahan Law Firm today. We will provide a free, no-obligation consultation so you can learn more about how our firm can assist your family through this difficult time. We are ready to pursue the financial compensation and justice that you, your family, and your departed loved one deserve.