A personal injury occurs whenever one party’s actions result in harm to another party. A wrongful death occurs whenever one party’s negligence, carelessness, or intentional act causes the death of another party. Losing a loved one is never easy, but it can be incredibly frustrating and distressing to know their death occurred because of another party’s negligence or misconduct. While a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party cannot return your family member to you, it can hold the at-fault party accountable for the damages they have caused to you and your family.
Unlike a personal injury claim that seeks compensation for the victim’s damages, a wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the surviving family of the victim. Your loved one’s death may not only be emotionally devastating for you and your family, but it can also generate a host of economic problems you may not know how to address on your own. Working with a Houston wrongful death attorney is the best option in this situation, and the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC can provide the compassionate and responsive legal counsel you need when you need it most after experiencing a wrongful death in your family.
Even if fault for your loved one’s sudden and unexpected death seems perfectly clear, success with a wrongful death claim is more challenging to secure than many people may initially realize. The sooner you speak with an attorney about your case, the better prepared you will be to meet the unique challenges the case presents. For example, if your loved one died because of any criminal act, such as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or interpersonal violence, the defendant is likely to face criminal prosecution from the state in addition to your wrongful death claim, and the former case could influence the latter.
While the cause of your loved one’s death may seem perfectly clear to you at first, the reality is that many variables can complicate any civil claim for damages. One of the most important benefits of hiring legal counsel you can trust for your impending wrongful death claim is their ability to help you approach this emotionally challenging situation with confidence and clarity. The emotional side of your wrongful death claim can be very difficult to process, but you will be able to rely on your legal team to provide ongoing guidance and support through all phases of your case.
An experienced Houston wrongful death attorney can ensure you can meet the unique challenges your case presents. The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC routinely provides criminal defense representation to clients in the Houston area, and we are familiar with the criminal acts that often result in death. Whether you need to prove your loved one died from another party’s negligence or as a result of any intentional act of harm, we can help.
Every state upholds different laws pertaining to wrongful death. In Texas, the surviving spouse and children of the deceased are first in line with the right to pursue wrongful death claims, followed by other close relatives. If no close kin files a wrongful death claim within three months of the death, a personal representative of the deceased’s estate or anyone who can prove a legitimate claim on the contents of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim instead.
The timing of the death in question in relation to the defendant’s actions can also lead to more complex legal proceedings. In the event the victim did not die immediately from the defendant’s actions, and their estate incurred losses in the interim between their injury and their death, the family could pursue a survival action in conjunction with their wrongful death claim.
While a wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the family’s losses and the impact of the death on the family, a survival action seeks compensation for losses incurred by the deceased’s estate. For example, any medical expenses incurred for attempts at lifesaving medical intervention and lost income between the final injury and the victim’s death would count as damages to the estate, not the family. Your Houston wrongful death attorney can advise you as to whether you have grounds to file a survival action with your wrongful death claim, and they can also help you maximize the compensation you obtain from both actions.
The compensation you and your family secure from a successful wrongful death claim can make adjusting to your new reality a bit easier. Texas law permits plaintiffs in wrongful death claims to seek compensation for:
It is also possible for some wrongful death claims to raise the topic of punitive or exemplary damages. Unlike compensatory damages that seek to repay losses, punitive damages exist to punish a defendant’s wrongdoing. The amount of punitive damages a plaintiff receives from a defendant typically hinges on the severity of the defendant’s actions and their overall financial status. It’s also possible for the defendant to face criminal prosecution for causing a wrongful death, and they could even face a felony charge if any intentional misconduct on their part caused the death in question.
Many people assume that a wrongful death action is essentially a replacement for a personal injury claim when the victim does not survive their injury. While this is true in some respects, there are several key differences you must understand prior to taking any formal steps in your wrongful death case. In a personal injury case, the plaintiff must identify the defendant responsible for causing the damage and then prove the full scope of that damage. A wrongful death claim involves a similar process, but this type of claim focuses on the family’s damages, not the victim’s.
A survival action is an option for any surviving family member of a deceased individual who did not die immediately from their final injury or illness. If they were harmed by another party but lingered for some time before they died, their estate likely incurred damages often cited in personal injury claims, such as medical expenses and lost income. Your Houston wrongful death attorney can advise you as to whether a survival action would be suitable for your family’s situation. State law permits you to file both a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for your family’s losses and a personal injury claim seeking repayment of the victim’s losses incurred prior to their death.
The process of establishing liability for a wrongful death is functionally the same as the process that applies to personal injury cases. The plaintiff must identify the party responsible for the death in question, prove the death caused damages to the family, and then provide proof of the full extent of those damages. Punitive or exemplary damages are possible if the death resulted from any intentional misconduct, and your attorney will be a crucial asset for ensuring that you maximize the case award you secure in this type of case.
The right legal team can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your impending wrongful death suit. When you choose the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC to represent you in a wrongful death claim, we will begin by reviewing all the details of the death and gathering any evidence you may need to establish liability for the death. Many wrongful death claims filed in Texas end with private settlement negotiations, and settlement usually offers the swiftest path to resolution in civil claims.
While our practice is focused on criminal defense, we have also secured millions of dollars on the civil side. Our team will help you settle your wrongful death claim quickly if possible, but we are not afraid to represent you at trial if necessary. Our firm has assisted many Houston area clients with difficult wrongful death claims. We know the challenges you are likely to face when it comes to resolving your wrongful death claim and ensuring accountability for the party responsible for your family member’s death. You can rely on your Houston wrongful death attorney to streamline your case proceedings and help you reach a suitable outcome as efficiently as possible.
A: A wrongful death claim may arise from an act of negligence or intentional misconduct. In the case of the former, the plaintiff must identify the defendant and prove they are directly responsible for the death and the family’s resulting damages. In the event a wrongful death occurs from intentional misconduct, criminal action, or willful act of harm against the victim, the defendant will likely face criminal charges as well as a civil suit from the victim’s family. Your Houston wrongful death attorney can help you gather the evidence needed to firmly establish fault for your loved one’s death.
A: The statute of limitations or time limit for filing a wrongful death suit in Texas is two years, and this time limit begins on the date of the death. While the average person is likely to assume that this is more than enough time to file their claim, it is always best to start building your case as soon as possible. The more time your legal team has to compile your claim, the better your chances of success with the case. Additionally, swift legal action helps ensure the freshness of evidence and reliability of witness testimony you may require to succeed with your claim.
A: Texas does not enforce any caps or limits on the damages a plaintiff can seek from a defendant in a wrongful death action. Your Houston wrongful death attorney can help you accurately calculate the full scope of the economic damages resulting from your loved one’s death and add these to your claim. They will help you determine a fair value for the pain and suffering your family experienced. Ultimately, every case is unique, and you need an experienced legal team to help you maximize the award you could secure if you win your case.
A: Some civil claims will take much longer to resolve than others. When a defendant is clearly responsible for the death in question, it is in their best interest to seek a swift settlement. However, if liability is contested or if the defendant argues against the damages sought in your claim, the case may need to be resolved through litigation. This can take much longer to conclude, and you will need experienced legal counsel assisting you throughout these difficult proceedings.
A: When a wrongful death occurs unintentionally through an act of negligence or carelessness, this is not necessarily a crime in Texas. However, if the defendant killed someone through an egregious act of negligence that demonstrated a clear disregard for the safety of others, criminal charges are possible. It is also likely that a defendant would face prosecution if the death they caused occurred due to an act of illegal misconduct, such as a DUI. Your Houston wrongful death attorney will be invaluable for proving the nature of the defendant’s actions, and they will advise you as to how a defendant’s intentional misconduct could influence your final recovery.
We understand how tragic it is to lose a loved one unexpectedly due to the intentionally harmful or egregiously negligent actions of another party. To discuss your legal options with a reliable Houston wrongful death attorney, contact the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC. We are ready to assist you; schedule your consultation with a Houston wrongful death lawyer you can trust.