Houston Wrongful Death Lawyer

Wrongful Death and Survival Claims
When tragedy strikes, family must pick up the pieces and find closure.


Who has a right to bring a claim?

It’s never easy to discuss legal rights when someone close has passed away unexpectedly in serious accident. But, even in the most difficult times, it is my job as your lawyer to provide information that would allow you to make important decisions. This is especially important when the family loses a relative in work or vehicle incident. Wrongful death cases can be filed to provide financial support for certain survivors who depended on the loved one that passed away.

The sudden death of someone you love can leave you and your family feeling paralyzed. As the days turn into weeks, everywhere you go, you are reminded of the tragedy that has occurred when people express how they sorry for your loss. While expressions of sympathy can assist with the coping process, they do not help with the overwhelming financial hardship that follows a family death. After an unexpected death, generally there is a necessity to assess and understand what has happened, what the family’s options are and, how to prepare for what the future will bring. Taking the initial step to accept what has happened and realize that the someone needs to take the steps to make sure options are explored and that some closure can be reached at some point.

During this chaotic time, the advice and counsel of your lawyer can offer guidance on how to address practical matters.When the loved passed away in an accident caused by the negligent actions of another person or company, Texas Law establishes what surviving family members may have a right to bring a Wrongful Death Case. Determining whether there the decedent has a will, whether or not the decedent was married and essentially identifying the decedent’s heirs, are all issues that would need to be addressed before filing a Texas Wrongful Death Claim. Although Attorney Sandoval is not a probate lawyer, he has often assisted clients through the process of setting up an estate for the decedent when there are underlying personal injury cases involved. He understands the emotional and traumatic consequences that survivors undergo following the unexpected death of a loved one. As a Texas wrongful death attorney, he wants to be available to counsel and provide options to consider before choosing the best course of action.

What is a Wrongful Death Action?

Wrongful deaths cases could be established when an individual is killed because of the negligence of another, whether it’s an individual or a large company. There are several ways a person, organization or corporation could be held liable for causing an individual’s death.

In Texas, the elements of a wrongful death action are:

  • The Individual that is bringing the lawsuit must be a “statutory beneficiary” of the decedent. (Basically, this means that the individual must qualify to bring the lawsuit as determined by law)
  • The negligent party must be a person or a corporation;
  • The negligent person or corporation’s actions caused the death of the loved one;
  • Had the loved one survived, he or she would have been entitled under the law to bring a claim against the negligent party; and
  • The person bringing the suit suffered actual injury.

While some elements of a wrongful death claim are very straight forward, others require close review of the facts to determine if all can be met and the claim can survive. When considering whether a qualified beneficiary may have a claim, keep in mind the there is much work to be done to preserve all evidence that would have supported the decedent’s right to bring a personal injury case had they survived. In a sense, in order to bring a wrongful death claim, you must be able to establish the case within the case.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Case

The recovery that can be made in a wrongful death case is not always the simplest to explain because it’s dependent on the facts of each specific case. It is best to sit down with Attorney Hector L. Sandoval to discuss which family members would qualify to claim and receive certain damages. These damages can include these but are not limited only to these claims.

  • Funeral costs.
  • Compensation for your family member’s wages, benefits and future earning capacity.
  • Reimbursement for any medical expenses incurred before your loved one died.
  • Recovery for emotional trauma, stress, anxiety and loss of your family member’s companionship.

When a person or company acts in a careless, reckless or indifferent manner, they expose others to the lethal consequences of their negligent behavior and need to be held responsible.


The Decedent’s Claim that Survives to the Estate.

How are Survival Actions different from a Wrongful death claim?

When a person is killed as result of an on-the-job injury or a motor vehicle crash, and he or she would have had a right to file a lawsuit against the negligent party had they survived, the rights that decedent continues to exist and will belong to the deceased individual’s estate. The claims or, the right to file the suit, “survive” the passing of the loved one. There are some obvious differences between claims that the estate can make and claims that an individual who survives an incident can make (Wrongful Death). While the differences between survival and wrongful death claims can often be difficult to understand, it will be one of the first explanations you will receive during a consultation with Personal Injury Attorney Hector L. Sandoval. Because of these serious effects on all involved parties, Texas statute makes a distinction between claims of the estate of the decedent and those that belong to the heirs. Generally, the statutory heirs are given standing for a wrongful death claim. This is usually the spouse or surviving guardian of dependent children given the actual authority to sue on behalf of the minors. The estate of deceased is given standing for a survival action that they could have filed themselves had they lived. The terms can be confusing, but the most important point to understand is that the family and the estate of the deceased have separate and distinct claims against the individual or company that negligently caused the death of the loved one.

Elements of a Survival Action Claim

The survival action is essentially the basis for any wrongful death legal standing that will follow the accident case. If the deceased individual had been able to establish a case against the negligent individual or company that caused an incident, had he or she survived, then a wrongful death can be established and could be said to derive from the decedent’s survival claim. In sum, it crucial in both types of cases, to be able to prove that the death resulted from the action or inaction (negligence) of another individual or company.

Damages in a Survival Action

Damages that can be financially recovered in an established survival action claim can include the typical pecuniary items such as medical bills, lost income, and general damages for physical pain-and-mental anguish if the decedent did not die at the accident scene. Cases that involve a victim being hospitalized or under intensive nursing care could increase the amount of recoverable damages. Funeral expenses can also be included in any survival action claim as well as any other expenses associated with the accident. It is important to remember that the funds generated from the survival action will be part of the decedent’s estate settlement and potentially claimable by creditors during the probate process. Remaining proceeds could eventually be assigned to inheritors.

Contact Texas Wrongful Death Attorney Hector L. Sandoval

Wrongful death and survival action claims are defended vigorously because of the potential for a large verdict against the negligent individual or company.  Choosing an advocate for the family will be one of the most important decisions made by the family and you should do everything you can to meet with your attorney in person. Attorney Sandoval focuses on making sure the process is explained thoroughly, that all options are considered and, he makes sure everyone feels that the interests of the family are being protected.

When you or your family is experiencing an unexpected loss of a loved one and there is reason to believe another should be held responsible, take the steps to call Houston Personal Injury Attorney Hector L. Sandoval and get an explanation about the rights the family may have to bring wrongful death and survival claims! Sandoval Law Firm, PLLC helps injured wreck victims get their life back on track. Call 346-347-7777 for a free and informative consultation!

Put up a fight and don’t give up on your rights!