Do I Need a Lawyer for a Wrongful Death Case?
Did you know that roughly 3,383,729 people in the United States die annually? Most of the time, these deaths are no one’s fault and are caused by old age, sickness, or natural disasters.
However, a small percentage of them are unnecessary deaths brought on by careless injuries caused by others. If your loved one died recently due to the negligence of others, you might be considering a wrongful death case.
But, precisely, what is a wrongful death case? And do you require the help of a Houston wrongful death attorney to file one? If you want to learn the answers to these questions, you’re in the right place.
In this guide, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about this type of case in Texas. Let’s get started!
What is a Wrongful Death Case?
Before we dive into whether you need a lawyer for a wrongful death case, it’s important first to understand the basics. Texas’s definition for this type of case can be found in Tex. Code §§ 71.001 to 71.003.
For a wrongful death case to be valid, three conditions need to be met. First, an injury needs to occur that causes a person’s death. Texas law can also include an injury that causes a fetus to fail to be born alive.
Next, the damage needs to be caused by another individual, organization, or business. Specifically, it needs to occur under one of the following conditions:
- A wrongful act
The last condition is that the person would have been able to file a personal injury if they survived the injury. There can be multiple types of events that fall under wrongful death jurisdiction.
For example, it might occur due to a negligent act at work. Considering that thirteen people die on the job every day, this tends to be one of the more common events.
However, it can also include intentional acts or things like medical malpractice.
It’s also important to note that wrongful death cases differ from criminal homicide cases. In criminal homicide cases, the outcome can result in jail time, and in wrongful death cases, it will result in compensation for the deceased’s loved ones.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case?
Texas is relatively strict about who can file a wrongful death case on behalf of the deceased. According to the state, you can only file a wrongful death claim in Houston if you’re the surviving children, parents, or spouse of the deceased.
But what if both the parents and the spouse want to file the case? In these situations, the parties can work together to file a claim on behalf of all of them.
Unless surviving family members request that a wrongful death case not be filed, a personal representative can also file it for them. However, these individuals must wait three months after the date of the death to file.
Why You Need a Lawyer for a Wrongful Death Case
If the evidence for your wrongful death case is strong, or you don’t have much money to spare, you might wonder whether a lawyer is necessary.
The reality is that a wrongful death attorney is essential for the success of your case. Any legal battle is going to require specialized knowledge of the law.
And these laws are so complicated they need years of studying and practical experience to master. It’s just not possible for you to do this on your own. Remember that the defense will likely fight hard to ensure you don’t get the compensation you deserve.
But, in what specific ways is a lawyer essential for these cases? This section will discuss why going into one of these cases without representation is rarely a good idea.
- You Will Need to Prove the Other Party Is Responsible
Because you’re bringing forward the lawsuit, the burden of proof is on you. As such, it’s up to you to prove that the other party is liable for the death. To do this, you will need to prove negligence.
Even if it’s evident that the other party is negligent in the case, you will still need to demonstrate it in a court of law. To do this, you must prove that the other party owed the deceased a legal duty of care.
Next, you must demonstrate that the party breached this legal duty of care. Lastly, you need to prove that this breach of duty was responsible for the person’s death.
A wrongful death lawyer will help you gather all the evidence you need for each area in the court. Then, they’ll represent you in the courtroom in an objective and calm voice.
It’s just not likely that you’ll be able to gather all the evidence on your own. A wrongful death attorney is essential for this.
- You Will Need to Prove What Type of Damages Were Lost
In the state of Texas, there are various damages that you can be awarded to the deceased’s family. Unfortunately, calculating these damages on your own can be challenging.
After all, how do you attach a money figure to someone’s life? A wrongful death lawyer can help you do this.
First, they’ll cover obvious things like lost earnings and inheritances from the deceased. However, they can also help attach a figure to more abstract things like:
- Lost care
- Lost advice
- Lost counsel
- Lost support and services
- Mental pain
- Lost love and companionship
A wrongful death lawyer can help you get more money from damages related to these areas.
They may also help you exemplary damages from the defendant to further punish the guilty party and prevent injuries like it from occurring in the future.
- You Need to Do It All Before the Statute of Limitations Expires
A wrongful death lawsuit needs to be filed before a specific time. Once this statute of limitation expires, you will no longer be able to pursue legal justice, and in Texas, that period is two years.
How to Find the Best Lawyer for a Wrongful Death Case
Unfortunately, not all wrongful death lawyers are created equally; some are inexperienced or only interested in money. So, how do you find a reasonable attorney who cares about your situation?
First, you should meet with them. Get a sense of what they’re like. Tell them the details of your case and see how they react.
Are they sympathetic or cold? This might seem like a minor detail, but it’s essential.
Many people beginning their wrongful death cases are still shocked and traumatized from losing their loved ones. A good lawyer will make things as easy as possible for the surviving family members.
Next, you should ask about what type of experience they have. You want a legal professional with a lot of experience with wrongful death cases. If their knowledge of the law is too broad, it can mean they’re a jack of all trades but a master of none.
It also helps if they have a more comprehensive range of skills and experiences. For example, before entering law, Clinton Morgan was a safety manager for colossal oil/gas companies.
This experience has given Morgan invaluable knowledge of the defense tactics many organizations use for workplace accidents. You should follow your gut.
Keep looking if the lawyer doesn’t feel like a good fit for your case. You want to be sure that you’re in good legal hands before proceeding with your case.
Looking For a Houston Wrongful Death Attorney? Contact the Morgan Legal Group
We hope this article helped you answer the question, Do I need a lawyer for a wrongful death case? As you can see, the answer is a clear yes. These types of cases get complicated and emotional very quickly.
If you need a better option in Texas, look no further than the Morgan Legal Group, PLLC. We know that nothing can bring back your loved one.
But we believe that a successful verdict can get them the justice they deserve and their loved ones the compensation they need. Please contact us today to schedule your consultation.