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Wrongful Death / Loss of a Loved One due to a Fatal Accident

Houston Wrongful Death Attorney

Families who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to questionable circumstances need to seek proper legal advice to fully understand if a wrongful death claim should be filed against the negligent party. Wrongful death lawsuits are complex and you must prove fault in order for compensation to be awarded. The attorneys at Wilhite & Associates, P.C. are well versed in handling every phase of a wrongful death lawsuit from pre-trial negotiations to aggressive trial litigation in front of a jury. If you have suffered the loss of a family member and feel that the death was caused by negligence, malpractice, or inaction of another person or party, contact us today to have your case immediately reviewed by an experienced attorney.

George W. Wilhite is board-certified in Personal Injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Wilhite has been practicing personal injury law and wrongful death cases throughout the Houston area since 1964. Contacting our firm is the best choice you can make to secure experienced and compassionate legal representation during this difficult time. We serve the greater Houston area, including: Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Waller, Grimes, and Washington Counties.

At Wilhite & Associates, we are ready to represent you and your family in a wrongful death claim. We understand that this situation is difficult and these cases require a close relationship between the family and the attorney. It is the most important decision you can make to secure adequate legal counsel early in a case where monetary damages are sought for surviving beneficiaries and dependents of the deceased. A wrongful death claim may be filed due to any of the following situations:

  • Loss of a spouse
  • Loss of a child
  • Loss of a parent

An untimely death in the family is always a heartbreaking situation. When the death was caused by the negligence of another; the emotional impact on family members is even more devastating. Some of the basic elements involved in a wrongful death suit include:

  • Death was caused, in whole or in part, by the negligent behavior or conduct of another person, party, organization, or entity;
  • The person or party was negligent, malicious, or can be found strictly liable for the victim’s death;
  • There are surviving beneficiaries or dependents; and
  • Monetary damages have resulted from the victim’s death.

Common Causes of a Wrongful Death in Texas

There are many circumstances that can result in a death or fatality that may ultimately prove to be the fault of an individual or organization. Some of the most common causes in Texas, include:

  • Auto Accidents Resulting in Wrongful Death– Traffic accident such as a car crash, motorcycle accident, alcohol-related accident, or commercial trucking accident.

  • Death on Property / Premises Liability – Death occurred on a property under circumstances for which the property owner is held liable.

  • Use of Defective Products – Death resulting from a defect in a consumer product, such as lawnmowers, household tools, or safety equipment.

  • Death Caused by Medical Malpractice – Death resulting from negligent medical care, misdiagnosis, or poorly executed medical procedure.

  • Fatal Work-Related Accidents – Construction accident, use of heavy equipment, industrial accidents, or other work related incident resulting in death.

  • Negligent Supervision – Death caused by improper or negligent behavior by those in charge of supervising minors, small children or those who are mentally deficient.

  • Deadly Criminal Act – Death resulting from a criminal act, such as murder, manslaughter, or accidental death occurring during the execution of a crime.

If you feel that the death of a loved one was caused by someone else’s negligence in any one of these circumstances, it’s best to contact an attorney to evaluate your situation as soon as possible.

Proving Fault

The victim’s family must prove the death occurred as a result of another person or party’s negligence, malpractice, malicious behavior, or inaction. The plaintiff must show proof of fault or compensation will not be awarded. It must be proved that the responsible party had a duty to act in a certain way, failed to act according to that duty, and in doing so, caused the resulting death of the victim.

Evidence in Wrongful Death Cases

In most cases, evidence will come from witnesses who can testify as to exactly what they saw or heard regarding the death of the victim. Important documents are also used as evidence, such as:

  • Medical reports
  • Declarations from witnesses
  • Police reports

Expert Witness Testimony

In more complex issues, such as product liability, workplace safety, or vehicle safety issues, expert witness testimony may be needed to prove fault. At Wilhite & Associates, we are very familiar with utilizing expert witness testimony whenever necessary. We know the best experts for a variety of different issues and we will not hesitate to hire top expert witnesses to give testimony even when this involves flying the witness in from other states to assist with the case.

Burden of Proof

As with most other civil cases, in a wrongful death suit, the plaintiff must prove the defendant is responsible by a preponderance of evidence. This simply means that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s actions caused the death.

The burden of proof must be proof of liability by a margin of at least 51 percent to 49 percent. Civil courts have a much lower burden of proof than criminal courts, where guilt must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Damages for Wrongful Death Cases

In a wrongful death civil suit, damages that are awarded to family members can be classified into two categories:

    Compensatory damages – Damages awarded as compensation for monetary and emotional losses. These damages are intended to repay a victim’s expenses that were incurred as a result of the death.

    • Medical bills
    • Lost wages
    • Funeral and burial costs
    • Grief
    • Loss of companionship
    • Projected loss of income the victim would have earned if they were living
    • Worth of the individual’s housekeeping and/or child-care services
    • Other out-of-pocket expenses that plaintiff can submit receipts

    Punitive damages – Damages awarded in an effort to punish the offending party for their negligence. These damages may be awarded when the party’s intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent acts result in someone’s death.

Calculating the amount of damages to be awarded is a complex process involving multiple factors, including:

  • Level of plaintiff’s dependence on the decedent;
  • Nature of the plaintiff’s relationship with the decedent;
  • Anticipated lifespan of the decedent;
  • Anticipated earnings and other benefits of the decedent; and
  • Expected or future income losses.

A judge or jury will usually award damages to be paid to the beneficiary in a lump sum. This amount usually will consist of the each of the calculated damages, which is reduced to a single amount, discounted to present dollars.

Statute of Limitations

In Texas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death suit, gives the plaintiff a time period of two years in which to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrongful Death under Texas Law

In Texas, Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practices and Remedies Code governs wrongful death lawsuits. This chapter is also known as the Texas Wrongful Death Act.

Wilhite & Associates, P.C. | Texas Wrongful Death Lawyers

Our initial consultations are always completely free for wrongful death and other personal injury cases. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent act of another individual or organization; it’s important to speak with an attorney right away to secure your right to monetary compensation for the damages you and your family have suffered. The attorneys at Wilhite & Associates are experienced with handling wrongful death cases throughout Houston and Harris County, including: Spring, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Tomball, the FM1960 area, North Houston; and Montgomery County, including: Conroe and The Woodlands; as well as the surrounding counties of Fort Bend, Grimes, Waller, and Washington. Contact us today to speak directly with one of our attorneys about your case.

Wilhite & Associates, P.C. represents clients from all over Southeast Texas, including:

Harris County - Aldine, Atascocita, Barrett, Barker, Baytown, Bellaire, Brownwood, Bunker Hill Village, Channelview, Clear Lake, Cloverleaf, Crosby, Cypress, Deer Park, East Houston, El Lago, Galena Park, Hedwig Village, Highlands, Hilshire Village, Houston, Hudson, Humble, Hunters Creek Village, Jacinto City, Jersey Village, Katy, Kingwood, Klein, La Porte, Louetta, Lynchburg, Nassau Bay, North Houston, Pasadena, Piney Point Village, Seabrook, Sheldon, Shoreacres, South Houston, Southside Place, Spring, Spring Valley, Taylor Lake Village, Tomball, Webster, West University Place

Montgomery County - Conroe, Cut and Shoot, Magnolia, Montgomery, Oak Ridge North, Panorama Village, Patton Village, Roman Forest, Shenandoah, Splendora, Stagecoach, Willis, Woodbranch, Woodloch, The Woodlands

Fort Bend County - Arcola, Beasley, Fairchilds, Fulshear, Kendleton, Meadows Place, Missouri City, Needville, Orchard, Pleak, Richmond, Rosenberg, Simonton, Stafford, Sugar Land, Thompsons

Waller County - Brookshire, Hempstead, Pattison, Pine Island, Prairie View, Waller

Grimes County - Anderson, Bedias, Iola, Navasota, Todd Mission

Washington County - Brenham, Burton, Chappell Hill

The hiring of a personal injury attorney or other civil law attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide which Houston attorney to hire for your case, ask us to send you free written information about our legal experience and qualifications.

This site is sponsored by George W. Wilhite, P.C. Our principal office is located in Harris County, Texas at 17101 Kuykendahl Rd., Houston, TX 77068.

The information provided on this website is for general information purposes only. The information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your own particular situation. The content of this site, including but not limited to written text, images, videos, and informational articles, has not been prepared, endorsed, or reviewed by any form of licensed medical professional, doctor, or physician. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, medical advice. All visitors are encouraged to consult with a physician or other licensed medical professional for any form of medical advice.

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