What is a Wrongful Death?
Losing a close family member or spouse is a crushing blow, but such a loss can feel even more tragic and crushing when that loss is the result of an avoidable accident or the reckless acts of another. If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s actions, you may have a right to compensation through a Texas wrongful death lawsuit.
A wrongful death is a negligent act that results in death due to careless actions — or inactions — by an individual or company. These deaths can include improper or untimely medical care and defective product distribution and use. Pursuing a claim requires proper evidence that the responsible party acted in a careless manner and that the cause of the accident could have been avoided had the other party exhibited reasonable caution.
Who Can Sue for a Wrongful Death?
In the state of Texas spouses, children or even parents of the deceased have the legal right to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of a loved one they have lost. These cases are usually brought by a representative of the estate on behalf of the family seeking monetary damages for their losses.
Causes of Wrongful Death
Some of the most common types of accidents that result in wrongful death include:
- Car wrecks (including drunk driving and distracted driving)
- Premises liability
- 18 wheeler crashes
- Motorcycle accidents
- Work related accidents
- Maritime or offshore accidents
- Airplane accidents
- Dangerous or defective products (exposure to asbestos leading to Mesothelioma or Cancer)
- Medical malpractice
A Wrongful death claim is pursued with the aim in establishing who was at fault and bring justice for those who suffered a loss by seeking compensation. If you or someone you know has died due to the careless actions of another, contact Houston wrongful death attorney, Charles J. Argento to find out how we can help you preserve your rights and seek monetary compensation.
Proving Negligence in a Claim
Although there are innumerable causes and scenarios that can result in a wrongful death suit, the following elements must be clearly established in order to sue for damages:
- Duty of Care: There must be sufficient evidence to illustrate to the court that the responsible party used ill caution in the time of the accident and failed to comply with safety regulations. This could apply to vehicle operators, property owners, physicians, work place supervisors and product manufacturers that weren’t following established standards that resulted in an avoidable and lethal accident.
- For example, a driver has a duty of care to those with whom they share the road to drive like a reasonable person would under the circumstances. This includes driving at a reasonable speed and avoiding dangerous or sudden maneuvers, but it can also include a duty to keep the car in reasonably safe condition with a functioning brake system and tires with a sufficient amount of tread.
- Breach of Duty of Care: There must be proof that the party responsible for the injury breached the mandated duty of care that was in the wrongdoer’s capacity to adhere to. This could include disregarding traffic safety regulations, property or workplace conditions not being up to code, product defects or errors made by healthcare practitioners.
- For example, a doctor who has a duty to care for a particular patient might breach that duty by failing to explore multiple possible diagnoses based on the patient’s symptoms, or by failing to follow established best practices for wound care after a procedure.
- Causation: Not only must the case prove the negligent party acted illegally or acted irresponsibly, but it must also be evident that the oversight directly resulted in the death of another. The negligent action that caused the accident and the resulting death needs to be directly connected in order to pursue for compensation of the surviving family.
- For example, if a doctor breaches their duty of care to a patient by failing to explore multiple diagnoses for a patient, but that patient’s death is caused by an infection they acquired in the hospital, the doctor’s breach is not the cause of the patient’s death. However, if a nurse charged with caring for the patient negligently caused the patient to become infected by failing to adequately scrub up between patients, then that nurse’s breach of duty would be the cause of the patient’s death. In this case, a claim for wrongful death would be more appropriately filed against the nurse, not the doctor, as well as the hospital.
The Importance of Hiring a wrongful death Attorney
An experienced law firm has the ability to communicate with insurance companies, financial institutions and corporations that may not work with a non-lawyer voluntarily. Simply put, legal individuals and companies respond to legal representatives in a timely fashion, and with clear answers.
Contacting a wrongful death attorney will start the investigation process where research is conducted to obtain the evidence necessary to win the maximum benefits due to you and your family as the result of your loss. An experienced and aggressive lawyer will gather all the pieces necessary and walk you and your family through the tedious legal process and inform you of your rights and options.
When it comes to the type of damages that can be recovered in wrongful death cases, there are a number components that are taken into consideration by the courts, including:
- Funeral & Burial Expenses
- Lost Benefits (including Retirement, Pension, Medical or Health Insurance Coverage)
- Lost Earnings
- Medical Expense Left Behind by the Deceased
- Mental & Emotional Anguish
The types of damages that are covered include the sum of a complex calculating system the courts use to determine the settlement of a wrongful death suit. The equation is based on the deceased’s individual’s earning capacity and previous life expectancy, among a myriad of additional factors that vary by individual. If there is more than one beneficiary, the settlement will be distributed between them equally.
In Texas, exemplary damages are achievable and can be recovered when a wrongful death is caused by a reasonable person acting in an irresponsible or grossly negligent manner. Exemplary damages are also referred to as ‘punitive damages.’ This is a process intended to hold the responsible party accountable for their gross negligence and to punish the culprit offering justice for the party that was wronged.
Compassionate and Aggressive Representation
With nearly three decades of experience in representing individuals in wrongful death cases, our Houston law firm works tirelessly to uncover the truth behind the loss of your loved one, while allowing you and your family to receive compensation for the immense emotional and monetary loss you suffered. While no amount of money can bring back a precious loved one, these funds can help alleviate the financial stress that can follow from losing a wage earner or paying high end-of-life medical costs, allowing you to focus on healing and rebuilding your life rather than how you’ll make ends meet.
At Charles J. Argento & Associates, our compassionate and accomplished staff understands the pain and suffering that comes along with the unexpected loss of a loved one. We work tirelessly as a team to prepare the best case possible for you and your family, so you and your family can focus on emotional healing. Contact our Houston lawyer today at (713) 225-5050 for a free consultation. Our attorney works solely on a contingency basis, so we recover absolutely no fees unless we win your case first. Allow our staff to help you through this difficult time by handling communication with the insurance agents, attorneys and personal or corporate entity that you believe is responsible for the loss of your loved one