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Houston Wrongful Death Lawyers

Having a loved one die in an accident is one of the most terrible things that can happen. Not only must you deal with the emotional devastation of someone you loved no longer being there. If the person was a significant source of income in your household, severe financial difficulties may arise.

Texas law allows specific family members to file a wrongful death claim against the person or party that was negligent. If the case is successful, the family could receive compensation for their economic and non-economic damages, including medical and funeral bills, lost future income, the deceased’s pain and suffering, and mental and emotional anguish.

The Houston wrongful death lawyers at Nix Patterson understand how difficult this tragedy can be. We have worked closely with wrongful death clients many times over the years. If your case qualifies for assistance, we will hold the at-fault party accountable and fight for the most compensation for your losses.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

When the following occurs, it can be considered a wrongful death in Texas

  • The person is injured so severely that they immediately or eventually pass away from the accident.
  • Another party, such as a person or company, was negligent and caused the death.
  • The deceased would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit if they had not died.

If these statements are true, certain surviving loved ones may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party responsible for the death. There are all kinds of wrongful death claims in Houston, but the most frequent ones are car and truck crashes, intentional crimes, and medical errors.

If your loved one died in a Houston accident, you may want the person to be criminally prosecuted. That could be possible, depending on the case. But remember that a wrongful death claim in Texas is separate from any criminal case. Your Houston wrongful death attorney will handle the civil lawsuit while the state or county prosecutor oversees the criminal case. You can obtain a favorable outcome in the wrongful death claim, regardless of what happens in the criminal case.

There is a huge difference between the proof required for a wrongful death claim and a criminal case. Wrongful death is a civil claim, and the case can be proven if there is a ‘preponderance of the evidence’ showing that the defendant was most likely liable for the death. The criminal prosecution requires the state or county to prove that the defendant is guilty ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ This means proving liability in a Texas civil claim is easier than convicting the person of a crime.

Despite the civil case having a lower burden of proof, the Houston personal injury lawyer will need convincing evidence to win the case. The evidence must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s negligence caused the death. Many types of critical evidence may prove liability in a wrongful death claim. The most common are video, photos, eyewitness testimony, law enforcement reports, and physical evidence, such as tire marks.

Who Can Sue for a Wrongful Death?

Texas law states that certain family members may file a wrongful death claim. These are the parents, children, and surviving spouse. Any of these parties can file a wrongful death claim. Some families file the lawsuit as a group. However, the claim must be filed within three months of the person’s death.

An executor or administrator may file the lawsuit if the claim is filed after three months. Only the previously stated family members or the estate’s executor or administrator can file. If you are unsure who to file, your Houston wrongful death lawyer at Nix Patterson can advise you. In many cases, the spouse is the logical choice. However, the person could be so overwhelmed and crushed by the loss that they can’t mentally handle the task. In this example, having the estate’s executor handle the matter could be appropriate.

Remember the two-year statute of limitations for filing a Texas wrongful death lawsuit. If you wait beyond two years from the death, you probably cannot obtain compensation in a claim.

If the Houston wrongful death claim settles before a trial, the beneficiaries must decide how the money will be divided. But if the case is litigated, the jury has complete control over how the beneficiaries will share the proceeds. So, settling is preferable if you want control over dividing monies. A Houston wrongful death lawyer has expertise and experience in negotiating wrongful death claims with insurance companies.

Common Types of Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Houston

Sadly, many serious accidents lead to wrongful death claims in Houston and across Texas. Unfortunately, severe accidents of various types are common in Texas and often lead to wrongful death lawsuits. Most wrongful death claims involve the following:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Houston is the largest city in Texas and one of the biggest in the US. Texas is growing quickly, and Houston has heavy traffic that is getting worse by the day. Some of the most congested highways and intersections that sometimes lead to serious and fatal auto accidents are:

  • Sam Houston Freeway and Bissonnet Street
  • I-10 and I-45
  • West Loop South and Bellaire Boulevard
  • Fannin and Pease
  • Westheimer Road and Post Oak Boulevard

Most auto accidents in Houston are caused by human error, including reckless driving, speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, and falling asleep behind the wheel. Your lawyer does not need to prove that any of these were the cause of the fatal accident. If the defendant’s actions or inactions caused the death, you could be owed compensation.

Houston is a significant hub of tractor-trailer traffic, given the city’s proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. If a truck driver is negligent and kills your family member, you may be able to sue not just the driver but their employer. Your Houston wrongful death lawyer will determine who can be sued for the death and what insurance policies are involved. Potential parties to sue in a Houston truck accident are the driver, vehicle or parts manufacturers, and the employer.

Job-Related Accidents

Many people are injured and killed at work in Houston. Common work-related accidents often involve oil, gas, and construction workers. But, work-related accidents can lead to severe injury and death almost anywhere, even at the office.

Many work-related accident deaths are handled by the company’s workers’ compensation insurance. If your loved one died at work, you could receive workers’ comp death benefits without proving fault. You generally are prohibited from suing the deceased’s employer in a wrongful death lawsuit, but there are exceptions. Also, if a third party caused the person’s death, such as a contracting company, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that entity.

Slip-and-Fall Accidents

Slip-and-fall accidents often cause serious injury and death in Texas. Property owners and employers have a legal duty to ensure that their property is safe and free from hazards. The property owner could be liable if someone slips, falls, and dies because of a dangerous condition.

Product Defects

Most consumer products undergo thorough testing to make sure they are safe and won’t cause injuries or death. However, many defective products cause fatal injuries every day in the Lone Star State. Toys, automobiles, lawn equipment, and toys are common causes of defective product lawsuits.

Medical Malpractice

Most medical professionals are competent and take good care of patients. However, doctors and nurses are people, too, and sometimes they make serious mistakes that cause severe injury or death. If a medical error leads to a patient’s death, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The most common reasons for medical malpractice death claims are missed diagnosis, incorrect diagnosis, surgical errors, and prescription mistakes. Nix Patterson’s medical malpractice attorneys in Houston have a strong track record handling these cases when medical professionals make fatal errors.

Nursing Home Abuse And Neglect

There are hundreds of nursing homes in the Houston metropolitan area. Most of these facilities offer compassionate and competent care. However, some of them have employees who abuse and neglect their patients. Sometimes the mistreatment is so egregious that the nursing home resident is severely hurt or dies. If your loved one dies from nursing home abuse and neglect, our attorneys will initiate an immediate and comprehensive investigation.

Common types of nursing home neglect and abuse that may cause death are malnutrition, dehydration, physical abuse, insufficient patient monitoring, and failure to make the correct diagnosis.

Am I Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If you are the surviving spouse, child, or parent of the deceased, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Houston. Any of these individuals can file a claim. The estate’s administrator or executor could also file a wrongful death action. An attorney can advise you about who may be the best person to handle the wrongful death claim. If no qualifying family member is suitable or available, your attorney or another professional could be the executor or administrator.

What Kind of Compensation Can I Get in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The damages in a Houston wrongful death lawsuit can be considerable and usually include economic and non-economic damages. In limited cases, punitive damages may be awarded:

Economic Damages

Economic damages are compensatory damages that reimburse you for your financial costs and losses related to the accident. For example, you probably have medical and funeral expenses, so these are usually covered.

If the deceased was a breadwinner in the home, you could receive lost wages and lost future income. If the person would have lived many more years, you could receive considerable compensation for future income loss. Lost inheritance, health insurance, and pensions are other potential economic damages.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are subjective and usually refer to pain and suffering for the deceased and mental and emotional anguish for the family. The insurance company may attempt to pay less in non-economic damages than they should. Your attorney will argue strongly that you should receive more compensation in this area. The at-fault party may settle and pay pain and suffering damages rather than risk paying more in a jury verdict.

In limited cases, your family could receive punitive damages to punish the defendant for grossly negligent conduct. If the defendant was highly drunk and ran over your loved one in a Katy crosswalk, a jury could decide to make them pay punitive damages.

How Can a Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer Help Me?

Some accidents may seem to have an apparent at-fault party, such as a drunk driver running through a stop sign and killing someone. However, even if fault is apparent, wrongful death lawsuits are rarely an air-tight proposition. Insurance companies only care about the bottom line, and they will do whatever they can to minimize their payout.

That’s why you should always have a wrongful death lawyer represent you in these complex, emotional cases. Your attorney is highly skilled in proving liability and negligence because they know the law and have years of experience in similar cases.

Your attorney’s law firm also has significant financial resources to dedicate to the case so you can have a successful resolution. They may, for example, pay expert witnesses to testify about essential facts of the case, such as how an auto accident happened. Always have an experienced wrongful death attorney review your case. They will be immensely helpful in ensuring you receive justice and fair compensation.

Speak to Nix Patterson’s Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

We understand that losing someone you love in an accident is devastating. If someone’s action or non-action caused the death, you do not have to deal with the aftermath alone. Our Houston wrongful death lawyers understand your situation and could help you receive the compensation you will need to move forward.

During our free legal consultation, we will gather details about how the accident happened and who is potentially responsible. If we think you have a case and you agree to have us represent you, we will investigate the accident. And since we work on a contingency basis, you have no upfront legal fees and pay nothing unless we win. Contact Nix Patterson today to get started.


Nix Patterson only works on a contingency fee basis. Our clients pay us nothing unless we win. Schedule a free consultation today. Call 512.328.5333 or complete the form below. 

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