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Understanding Wrongful Death Claims 

Ellis & Thomas, PLLC Sept. 28, 2022

In 2021, according to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 4,480 individuals died in car crashes statewide, second by only 221 fatalities to 1981. The Texas Department of Insurance reported 469 workplace fatalities for 2020, its latest reporting period, but that year was marked by economic slowdowns and business closures due to the pandemic. The year before witnessed 608 workplace deaths. 

The loss of a loved one through someone else’s negligence brings great sorrow to family and friends. Though there is no way to bring back the lost loved one – nor is there any amount of money that can make the survivors’ lives whole again – the victim’s families often turn to wrongful death lawsuits to hold the responsible party, or parties, accountable. 

A wrongful death lawsuit affords two types of compensation for your loss. One component pays for the medical, funeral, and other direct expenses involved in the loss. The other pays for all other economic and noneconomic losses and damages, including pain and suffering and loss of the person’s companionship (referred to as consortium). 

If you have lost a loved one in or around Houston, Texas, due to the negligence, actions, or inactions of someone else, contact the wrongful death attorneys at Ellis & Thomas, PLLC. 

If an insurance claim is involved, reach out to us first. Let us handle the claims adjusters and others who will try to lowball or deny your claim. When a wrongful death lawsuit is necessary, we will be there for you from start to finish, fighting for your right to the just compensation you deserve for your loss. 

Ellis & Thomas, PLLC serves not only clients in and around Houston, but also throughout Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, and Brazoria County. 

Why File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

If your loved one passed away due to the negligence of someone else, there are painful consequences for everyone involved. And while you could forgive the driver, based on mitigating circumstances, let everything pass with a quiet interpersonal resolution, those consequences don’t go away. Your family member would still be alive if it wasn’t due to the inattention or negligence of the other person.   

If you file an insurance claim and/or a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver, you can set an example for other vehicle operators on the road. Their negligence as a driver can not only result in tragedy for others, but also in loss for themselves. They will be held accountable for what they caused. 

Call accountability the moral or ethical aspect of a wrongful death lawsuit if you like, but there are also financial consequences to be dealt with as well.  

First, there are the immediate expenses of medical care and then funeral arrangements. You also will be faced with the loss of income and other support resulting from the death of the family member. There will also be pain, suffering, and grief – and the emptiness that comes when the person you cared about is no longer there. 

Wrongful Death and Texas Law 

Texas law states that a person “is liable for damages arising from an injury that causes an individual's death if the injury was caused by the person's or his agent's or servant's wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.” 

Under Texas law, most family members can bring a wrongful death lawsuit so long as it is filed within two years of the loved one’s death. Spouses, children (even fully adopted children), and parents can bring a suit. Siblings, however, cannot. 

Damages Available 

You can seek compensation for direct losses (medical and funeral) and for associated economic & noneconomic losses, including: 

  • Your mental anguish  

  • Lost love or companionship 

  • Lost care, guidance, support and/or counsel 

  • Lost earning potential 

  • Lost Inheritance 

  • Lost household support and services 

Of course, all of this depends on the relationship of the person or persons filing the lawsuit to the individual. Depending on that relationship – child, spouse, parent – some elements of compensation may loom larger than others. 

Proving Negligence in Court 

Negligence is the main or underlying claim in most wrongful death lawsuits.  Negligence means the responsible party did something – or failed to do something – that resulted in harm to another.  

For instance, a driver by law is required to exercise a “duty of care” toward other drivers, which means not to operate their vehicle in such a way that it endangers others. A building owner/operator has a duty of care to maintain safe standards and to be proactive in warning and protecting others from harm on the premises. 

Therefore, in a wrongful death lawsuit, you will generally have to establish (prove) four elements: 

  • The other party had a duty of care (legal duty) toward your loved one 

  • The other party breached this duty of care 

  • That breach resulted in your loved one’s injuries (in this case, fatality) 

  • Those injuries/fatality resulted in damages for which you are entitled to compensation 

Skilled and Compassionate Legal Counsel 

At Ellis & Thomas, PLLC, we understand that the loss of a loved one is a time of great sorrow and grief, and we treat each case with compassion and understanding. We have helped countless others seek and receive compensation for personal injuries and other losses they have suffered due to the negligence of others.  

We stand ready to help you throughout the entire process and emotional ordeal. We’ll be there when you need us, and you can rest assured that we’ll be taking every step necessary to pursue the just compensation and accountability you deserve. 

If you’ve lost a loved one in or around Houston, or nearby in Missouri City, Pasadena, Channelview, Pearland, League City, or elsewhere, reach out to us immediately. Your initial consultation is free.