For any family, losing a loved one brings intense emotional pain and difficulty. When you lose a close family member due to the wrongful acts or omissions of another, it can only magnify the pain. Knowing that your relative’s death was caused by someone else’s carelessness can also leave you feeling angry and helpless.
The law allows families who have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligent, reckless, or willful acts or omissions to seek compensation for their loss. The survivors can hold the responsible person accountable through a wrongful death action.
For more than 25 years, the Houston wrongful death lawyers of The Callahan Law Firm have fought for the rights of bereaved families across Houston. We help families who lost a loved one due to another person or company’s negligent or reckless acts. We take on the difficult work of pursuing your family’s legal rights so that you and your family can focus on your healing.
Let us pursue the wrongful death settlement you need to help pay the bills and support your family. A claim for compensation can help you begin to move forward after the tragic loss of a family member. We will do whatever it takes to hold those at fault accountable for your loved one’s death. That will give you and your family the justice you need and deserve.
You can trust that our legal team has the knowledge and experience required to seek justice in wrongful death actions. Our attorneys have a unique mix of backgrounds in engineering and in the insurance industry, which makes us able to handle the most complex wrongful death cases.
Our founding attorney Michael S. Callahan is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. That distinction is held by only a small number of attorneys in Texas, which reflects our firm’s ability to pursue your family’s case through the entire litigation process and all the way to trial to reach the best possible outcome for you.
Schedule a free initial case review with a Houston wrongful death law firm by calling us or by filling out an online contact form now. You will learn more about your family’s legal rights and options and how our legal team will fight to ensure you receive the financial compensation and justice you deserve.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
Texas’s Wrongful Death Act allows for a wrongful death claim to be brought by these surviving family members:
- A spouse
- A child (including adoptive children; however a biological parent whose parental rights have been terminated cannot bring a wrongful death claim for the child they gave up)
- A parent (including adoptive parents who have legally adopted the decedent)
If none of these parties elects to file a wrongful death claim within three months of a person’s passing, the executor or administrator of the decedent may choose to file a wrongful death claim, unless the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the decedent request that the executor or administrator not file that claim.
A surviving spouse, child, or parent of a decedent, or the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of all those surviving family members who are entitled to recover in a wrongful death action.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Case?
In a wrongful death case, the family of a deceased individual effectively steps into the shoes of their loved one. The family asserts a legal claim that the decedent would have been entitled to bring as a personal injury action had the loved one survived.
Most wrongful death cases are based on the claim that the party responsible for causing the decedent’s death did so through negligence. A claim of negligence must prove four elements:
- Duty of care – A negligent party must owe a duty of care to the victim. For example, a driver responsible for a car accident owes a duty of care to all other people on the road to operate a vehicle in a safe and lawful manner. The owner of a seagoing vessel owes a duty to the personnel and passengers aboard the vessel to ensure the ship is seaworthy.
- Breach of the duty of care – Negligence can arise when a person or entity breaches the duty of care owed to another person. A driver who commits an error or breaks the law behind the wheel breaches the duty to all others on the road to drive in a careful and legal manner.
- Causation – A breach of the duty of care turns into negligence if that breach directly and proximately leads to injury to someone to whom the duty of care was owed. Direct causation means that the injury would not have occurred, but for the at-fault party’s breach of the duty of care. Proximate causation means that there is no other intervening, superseding act that is more responsible for causing the victim’s injury.
- Damages – A negligence claim can only be brought if the harmed party or parties have suffered some form of financially compensable damages.
In some wrongful death cases, the family of a deceased victim may claim that the at-fault party acted either recklessly or with gross negligence. This typically requires proving that the at-fault party consciously disregarded their actions, or that the at-fault party’s omissions posed a substantial risk of injury or death to the deceased victim. For example, if a deceased victim is killed in a drunk driving accident where the at-fault driver had a history of drunk driving and therefore had been educated on the risks of drunk driving, the at-fault driver’s decision to get behind the wheel while intoxicated might demonstrate a conscious disregard of the risks of drunk driving.
How Our Houston Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help Your Family
Pursuing a wrongful death legal claim while grieving for your loved one and adjusting to life without that person can prove incredibly trying for any family. While a legal action might be the furthest thing from your mind right now, many families actually find solace in seeking justice on the deceased’s behalf.
Let a Houston wrongful death lawyer from The Callahan Law Firm help you and your family pursue the compensation and justice that you deserve. We will fight for your family’s rights and interests by:
- Investigating the circumstances of your loved one’s passing and securing documents and evidence we can use to begin building a legal case.
- Working with experts in fields of accident reconstruction, engineering, medicine, and finance to develop strong legal arguments to show how your loved one’s death occurred, who was responsible for their passing, and the extent of the damages you and your family have incurred as a result.
- Identifying at-fault parties and available sources of compensation (such as insurance coverage).
- Filing claims for compensation with responsible parties and their insurers, and aggressively pursuing a settlement that provides you and your family with the fair and full financial recovery you deserve.
- Preparing your case to go to court and to trial if the at-fault parties won’t offer a fair settlement of your claim, and advocating for your and your family’s rights at trial to secure the compensation and justice you need.
When you choose The Callahan Law Firm to help with your wrongful death case, you can expect full commitment from our legal team. We purposely limit the number of cases our firm takes on at any one time so that we can give your case the attention and effort your claim deserves.
Our commitment to our clients is reflected in our clients’ satisfaction and the results we have obtained on behalf of our clients. We work hard to ensure that the claim process goes as smoothly as possible. We are available any time to speak in person, on the phone, or via video call, email, or text to answer any questions you may have and keep you updated on the progress of your case.
Demanding Full Compensation for Your Family
A wrongful death claim seeks to recover compensation for the eligible surviving family members and the estate of the deceased individual. At The Callahan Law Firm, our Houston wrongful death attorneys fight to ensure your family receives full compensation for these losses:
- The loss of your loved one’s earning capacity and financial contributions to the family
- The loss of your loved one’s care, support, advice, love, companionship, and society*
- The loss of your loved one’s maintenance and services to your family’s household
- Lost inheritance, or the value of an estate that your loved one would have accrued had they enjoyed their full life expectancy
- The mental and emotional anguish and suffering you and your family have endured due to your loved one’s passing
In addition, Texas’s wrongful death law allows families to seek exemplary damages (sometimes called “punitive damages”). These damages can be awarded when your loved one’s death is caused by the at-fault party’s willful actions, omissions, recklessness, or gross negligence. Exemplary damages do not compensate you and your family for any loss. Instead, those damages are intended to punish the at-fault party for his or her conduct and to deter others from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
Damages in a wrongful death action may be divided among the surviving eligible family members in proportion to the injury or loss they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s passing.
Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Under Texas’s statute of limitations, you generally have two years from the date of your loved one’s passing in which to file a lawsuit to seek compensation from those responsible for your loved one’s death. In limited circumstances, the statute of limitations may be paused or “tolled” when the at-fault party or parties deliberately concealed their culpability or liability from you and your family.
If you are bringing a wrongful death action against the state government or a local government, you need to provide the government with notice of your claim within 180 days (and in some instances sooner) of your loved one’s passing. Otherwise, you may be deemed ineligible to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you fail to file your wrongful death lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, the court will likely dismiss your case. That means you will lose your right to pursue compensation in court.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Virtually any type of accident or incident that would give rise to a personal injury claim can also cause wrongful death. A wrongful death case arises when the victim of the accident or incident dies due to the injuries or illness caused by that accident or incident.
Examples of common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents, including 18-wheeler accidents
- Defective and dangerous products
- Dangerous medications
- Workplace accidents
- Offshore accidents
Talk to a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Houston Now
If you and your family have lost a loved one due to the negligence or other wrongful acts of another person or entity, do not wait to discuss your claim with us and learn more about your family’s legal options. You will also learn how our legal team can help you pursue the financial recovery and justice you deserve. You owe no fees unless we recover compensation for you.
Schedule a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation with a Houston wrongful death lawyer from The Callahan Law Firm by calling or contacting us online now.