Houston Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death is an unfortunate event that occurs when the negligence of an individual or company results in the death of another individual. Houston wrongful death attorney, Sue E. West, at the West Law Office understands how sensitive and important receiving justice for your lost loved one is to you and your family.
Wrongful death claims are generally made by surviving beneficiaries, including the victim’s spouse, children, or close relative. Claims must be filed in accordance with the Texas statute limitations, which can vary for each case. Generally, the time limitation to file for a wrongful death claim in Texas is within two years of the time of death of the victim. Time limitations may vary if the cause of death was determined after the time of death. if you are unsure if you can file for a wrongful death claim, consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Types of Wrongful Death Claims
Grieving the death of a loved one is one of the hardest things an individual can do. if the death of a loved one was caused by the negligence of another person or party, you and your family deserve closure and compensation. The West Law Office is here to help you and your family receive justice for your lost loved one.
A wrongful death claim can be filed for death caused in various situations. Common wrongful death situations occur because of reasons involving, but not limited to:
- Vehicle accidents can result in wrongful death claims for many reasons. For example, an individual may be killed on the road due to a malfunctioning product of their vehicle. It is the responsibility of the automobile company to assure that each and every feature in a vehicle is both safe, and properly functioning.
- Negligent drivers can also cause accidents. They might have been intoxicated or fatigued, or they could have been driving while distracted. Truck drivers cause thousands of deaths in the United States each year due to driving errors.
- Emergency Room/Medical Malpractice
- Emergency rooms, and hospitals, are frequently busy and chaotic. Hospital workers can be too quick to act, leading to negligence and improper diagnosis. All hospital workers are responsible for the health and safety of their patients. if they are negligent and perform surgical errors, discharging a patient too early, or improperly diagnosing a patient, this can ultimately lead to death.
- Anesthesia Malpractice
- Patients undergoing surgery must always be carefully monitored to assure their anesthesia dosage is properly administered and sufficient. An inadequate dosage of anesthesia may result in a patient experiencing a heart attack, brain injury, stroke, or even death.
- Negligent Security
- A violent criminal could attack your loved one in a hotel, motel, apartment building, or parking lot. If the business that owns the property did not use adequate security, you might sue them.
Why Doesn’t the Prosecutor File this Lawsuit?
Wrongful death lawsuits are civil suits for money damages. If you win, the defendant must pay compensation for losses you have suffered, but they don’t go to jail. Only a criminal conviction can send someone to jail as punishment.
Some accidents give rise to both civil and criminal liability. The prosecutor will decide whether to file charges. But regardless of their decision, you might possibly bring a wrongful death claim. Family members file this lawsuit because they will be the beneficiaries if they win the case.
Because this is a civil suit, there are key differences from criminal trials:
- The burden of proof is lower. You can win a civil suit with proof “by a preponderance of the evidence” that the defendant is liable for the death. Essentially, this means it is more likely than not that the defendant is to blame. In a criminal trial, the burden is much higher—”proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”
- The defendant in a criminal case can plead the Fifth and refuse to testify. They have fewer protections against self-incrimination in a civil lawsuit. For example, if the criminal trial has already occurred, then a judge might order them to testify in the wrongful death case whether they want to or not.
- You can bring a wrongful death lawsuit for ordinary negligence, which is the failure to use reasonable care. Most criminal cases require at least criminal negligence, which is more blameworthy conduct.
Why Wrongful Death Claims Are Difficult to Bring
The biggest challenge is that your loved one is no longer here to testify about what happened. It is harder to piece together an accident to determine who is at fault when a key witness has passed. The defendant might even blame your loved one for causing the accident—and your loved one is no longer here to give their side of the story.
At the West Law Office, we look to other evidence to understand what happened. If your loved one died in surgery, we can interview the surgical team. If a car accident causes death, we can analyze the police report to identify witnesses and reconstruct the accident. Sometimes surveillance video exists which captures the accident and is vivid proof of fault.
The sooner you reach out to a lawyer, the stronger your chances of pulling together an impressive claim. Evidence can disappear quickly. Witnesses can leave the state, never to be found again. Although you are grieving, the right lawyer can quickly begin assembling evidence to use in a claim, so contacting our firm is key.