Helping You Pursue Justice for Your Lost Loved Ones
Over the last 40 years, Katy, Texas has experienced rapid growth. As more businesses and residents move into the area and generate more traffic, the potential for dying in a tragic accident unfortunately increases. Losing a loved one is one of the most challenging experiences a person can go through in life, and losing a loved one in a preventable accident is even more tragic. Sadly, every year families lose loved ones in Katy due to these accidents.
Wrongful deaths are heartbreaking, but they may also prove financially difficult for all of the surviving family members. We know no amount of money can bring back a life lost, but we want to do everything we can to make your situation more manageable. That’s why we want you to know you still have a right to seek justice and compensation for your loss. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of the team of Katy wrongful death lawyers and legal professionals at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, can ensure you pursue maximum compensation for your loss.
We are a national law firm based in Houston with multiple offices around the country. We also work with affiliate law firms in most states that share our focus and dedication to excellence. No matter where you are located, we may be able to help you, so call or contact us now. We are open, for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-898-4877, or you may contact us now to submit your case for review.
How the Team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law Serves Katy
Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, is a personal injury law firm dedicated to treating all clients with the compassion and respect they deserve. We know individuals who were hurt in an accident or who lost a loved one are going through an immensely difficult time. Every member of our team does their best to provide each individual with the reassurance, information, and assistance they need, all while working tirelessly to obtain the maximum possible recovery.
Our founder, Stewart J. Guss, has practiced personal injury law for over 20 years. Now, our firm employs over 120 legal professionals, including attorneys, paralegals, support staff, and management. Due to our knowledge, resources, skills, and experience in handling complex types of personal injury claims, we have won millions in settlement awards and jury verdicts for our clients.
If you are looking for someone to stand up for the justice and compensation you need, look no further. The tough team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, is here and ready to fight on your behalf.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death occurs when an individual dies due to the misconduct or negligence of another person or entity. As a result, a wrongful death lawsuit is a claim against those liable for the death. State law permits eligible family members to file a wrongful death action.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Katy?
In Katy, only specific family members of the decedent may file wrongful death claims.
These individuals include:
- The surviving spouse
- The surviving children and adopted children (if the adoption was legally and fully completed)
- The surviving parents of the deceased, including adoptive parents
Unfortunately, surviving siblings of the deceased, grandparents, and other distant relatives cannot file a wrongful death claim. Working with an experienced Katy wrongful death attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to start a wrongful death lawsuit.
Differences Between a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and a Murder Charge
A murder charge is a criminal charge brought in criminal court. The purpose of a murder charge is to hold the responsible party criminally liable for the wrongful death.
In comparison, a wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought forth in civil court. The goal of such a claim is to provide compensation to the grieving family members for their losses.
Even if a criminal lawsuit already exists against the individual liable for your loved one’s death, a wrongful death claim is a separate and distinct civil action that you may bring against the wrongful parties.
However, one of the key differences between the two is that the standard of proof is lower in a wrongful death claim than in a criminal case.
Criminal cases require the prosecutor to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the illegal action or crime. In a wrongful death claim, however, plaintiffs need only prove that the defendant is responsible for the death by a preponderance of the evidence.
Actions That Can Result in a Katy Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death can result from numerous situations and accidents. Under Texas laws, eligible family members may file wrongful death claims against various parties if their carelessness, wrongful acts, unskillfulness, or neglect contributed to a wrongful death in any capacity.
Accordingly, you may qualify to pursue a wrongful death claim if your loved one died due to one of the following causes:
- Negligent act of another, such as drunk driving, speeding, or a distracted driving collision
- A defective product or dangerous equipment that caused a wrongful death
- Dangerous or hazardous conditions on the road or another person’s property
- Hospital neglect or doctor malpractice
- Fatal bicycle accidents
- A company error, such as an explosion that kills an employee
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim in Katy
When eligible family members bring a wrongful death claim in Katy, they basically step into the decedent’s shoes. This means that in a Katy wrongful death claim, the victim’s family members need to prove liability, which is normally the responsibility of the injured individual and their lawyer.
Take, for example, a truck accident claim. To succeed in a wrongful death suit, the family members of the decedent need to show that the trucking accident was caused by another person’s negligence and resulted in their loved one’s death. This may include negligent acts by the at-fault truck driver, their employer, or even the truck manufacturer under certain circumstances.
Time Limit to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Katy
In personal injury cases, there is a deadline by which you must bring a claim for your injuries or for the death of your loved one. If you do not file in time, you may lose your right to seek compensation for your damages. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Katy—and throughout Texas—is two years. The beginning of the two-year period is determined by the date of death. This does not mean that the case has to be fully resolved within two years; rather, the eligible family members must file within two years from their loved one’s death.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule, including:
- The plaintiff is a minor child
- The plaintiff suffered a physical or mental impairment that prevented filing during the two years
- The negligence of the defendants was not known during the two years
- The defendant engaged in fraud
Typically, it’s smart to assume you need to bring a lawsuit as soon as possible. Wrongful death lawsuits are complicated, so it’s in your best interest to speak to a skilled wrongful death attorney as soon as you can. These lawyers can determine exactly how much time you have to file your claim. The sooner you contact them, the more time they have to investigate the matter properly and collect evidence that supports your case.
Don’t let time run out. Get justice for your loved ones now.
Types of Damages Available in a Katy Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In a Katy wrongful death claim, the recoverable damages typically vary and depend on if the claimant is a surviving parent, spouse, or child.
However, common damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Lost earning capacity, care, and maintenance
- Lost companionship, comfort, and love
- Lost of inheritance (this is the amount that what would have accumulated or been financially gained, had the deceased lived a full life)
In some situations, courts may award punitive damages. Unlike other damages awarded in a wrongful death claim, which are meant to compensate family members for their losses, punitive damages are designed solely to punish wrongful parties for their actions and serve as a deterrent for future similar behavior. As a result, punitive damages are only available when a defendant’s actions are premeditated, intentionally wrongful, or grossly negligent.
Differences Between Survival Actions and a Wrongful Death Claim
What is a survival action? It may sound like a movie genre, but it’s actually a legal term. Unlike a wrongful death claim, a survival action is not made on behalf of the decedent’s family members. Instead, survival actions allow estates to recover damages that deceased individuals incurred from the moment of their injuries until the time of their deaths.
As a result, survival damages may include:
- The decedent’s pain and suffering
- The mental anguish the deceased experienced before dying
- Medical expenses for care received before death
- Lost income due to injuries before death
- Property damages caused by the accident
For instance, if an individual is involved in a car collision and survives some time before passing away, the law in Texas allows recovery for the pain and suffering suffered by the deceased during this time. These survival damages may also include medical expenses incurred before the death as well as burial expenses.
Insurance Companies and Katy Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Many people wrongfully assume that the insurance company’s purpose is to compensate the victim following an accident. However, this is far from the truth. Like other businesses, insurance companies want to make money. This means they do not want to pay out claims, no matter how valid or tragic. Consequently, when you file a claim, all this means to a profit-minded insurance company is that they are potentially losing out on revenue. Because of this, they will try any tactic they can to avoid paying you.
When you lose a family member in an accident, the insurance adjuster will come calling. They will try to make you settle your claim quickly for pennies on the dollar, or sign documents that can end up hurting your case.
If the insurance company is trying to contact you, you need to:
- Avoid taking calls from the insurance company. Instead, let your lawyer deal with all communications.
- Do not sign any statement or document from the insurance company without having your attorney review it first.
- Do not give any recorded statements without having your lawyer present.
- Do not settle for less than your claim’s true value by accepting the first offer.
After experiencing a wrongful death, you’re overwhelmed and dealing with grief, but insurance companies aren’t above taking advantage of your vulnerable state. Trust a dedicated wrongful death lawyer at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, to handle the details for you and protect your rights.
Actions to Take Following a Wrongful Death in Katy
If you lost a loved one, especially due to an unanticipated event, the aftermath may prove chaotic, overwhelming, and stressful. Legal action may be the last thing on your mind, but bringing a wrongful death claim can help relieve some financial stress. If you intend to pursue damages, it is wise to start building a case as soon as possible.
If a member of your family suffers a wrongful death, take the following actions:
- Gather evidence: In order to recover damages in a wrongful death suit, you need to bring strong evidence that proves a defendant’s actions or negligence caused your loved one’s death. For these reasons, you or your lawyer must collect relevant evidence, such as witness statements, medical records, any available surveillance footage of the accident, and an official police report detailing what happened and who was involved.
- Figure out expenses: Start tracking damages resulting from this death. The best way to do this is to keep receipts, bills, and other documents related to the funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, loss of care, and the deceased’s lost income and benefits. Determine what bills the decedent’s income used to cover, as well as other ways they contributed to the household.
- Write in a journal: Following a family member’s death, you’re likely experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. Writing in a journal will help you remember everything that happened, including moments leading up to the death. It can also capture in detail what you went through, the emotions you felt, and the damages you and your family suffered and will continue to suffer as a result of this death. In addition to helping you process your emotions and your grief, a log like this can provide valuable evidence of pain and suffering.
Finally, and most importantly, you need to contact an experienced Katy wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. You shouldn’t have to worry about dealing with complicated legal proceedings all on your own. When you hire a wrongful death lawyer, they take over this process for you—gathering critical evidence, reviewing your claim’s details, and building the strongest case on your behalf.
FAQs About Wrongful Deaths in Katy
If you lost a loved one in an accident due to another person’s negligent or wrongful actions, you likely have numerous questions and concerns about what happened, who was at fault, and what your future will look like.
Get a free consultation from a wrongful death lawyer and start considering your legal options. Filing a wrongful death claim can not only give you peace of mind, it can also provide you with the funds to help you deal with the financial hardship caused by your loved one’s unexpected passing.
If you are thinking about bringing a wrongful death lawsuit in Katy, we’ve created the following wrongful death frequently asked questions to provide you with the information and answers you need. Reach out to the legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, for more help determining your eligibility to file a wrongful death claim.
1. Will a criminal case against the at-fault party affect my Katy wrongful death claim?
Certain situations may spark both criminal and civil proceedings. A jury may find someone not guilty of murder in a criminal trial but still hold them financially accountable for a death in civil court.
As a result, if there is a criminal prosecution against the liable parties responsible for your loved one’s wrongful death, such a case will rarely have an impact on your wrongful death lawsuit. This is because different court systems, with different attorneys and judges, handle each case.
However, evidence revealed in a criminal case may prove highly valuable in a wrongful death claim. Working with a Katy wrongful death lawyer will help you understand this process and how you can use evidence from a criminal case to support your wrongful death claim.
2. If a family member died while working, can I file a Katy wrongful death lawsuit?
Typically, in accidents involving an employee getting hurt or dying, and the accident happened “on the clock,” several factors will determine whether eligible family members may bring a claim against the employer.
If the employer participates in the state’s workers’ compensation program, and your loved one is killed on the job, then you will pursue compensation from the workers’ compensation program. You may not qualify to file a wrongful death suit against the employer, because the right to bring a wrongful death suit is eliminated by the presence of worker’s compensation coverage. Consequently, eligible family members can only file for worker’s compensation death benefits.
Wrongful death attorneys are well-versed in state worker’s comp laws. Discussing your case with a skilled wrongful death attorney will help determine whether or not you’re eligible to pursue a wrongful death claim against the employer.
3. If another person’s negligence caused my loved one’s death in Katy, what must I prove?
If you believe your loved one’s death resulted from another person’s negligent actions, you must prove the following elements before collecting any damages:
- The defendant owed the victim a legal duty of care. For example, motorists have a legal obligation to safely operate their vehicles, including not drinking and driving.
- The defendant breached this duty. If a motorist is intoxicated and gets behind the wheel, they broke a law and breached their legal duty to drive safely.
- The defendant’s breach resulted in an accident and injury. If, for instance, the intoxicated motorist in our example is involved in a car accident and ends up killing another driver.
- Monetary damages occur as a result. These monetary damages can include medical expenses, loss of guidance, funeral and burial expenses, and more.
The sooner you call the law firm of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, the quicker we can get to work building your case, including investigating the accident and gathering critical evidence.
4. If I want to file a wrongful death claim in Katy, what must I prove to obtain compensation?
If you want to bring a wrongful death claim in Katy, you first need to prove that you are a statutory beneficiary of the deceased individual. In Texas, these beneficiaries include the decedent’s children, spouse, and parents. In addition, you also need to show that the defendant’s actions resulted in the wrongful death.
5. What’s the difference between a survival action and a wrongful death claim?
Even though damages are available in both survival actions and wrongful death claims following the death of a family member, these two types of claims are not the same thing.
Under Texas law, a survival claim allows a decedent’s estate to pursue a claim that the decedent could have brought, had they survived. It is filed by the estate on behalf of the deceased and it addresses how they, as an individual, were impacted.
In comparison, a wrongful death claim is a separate claim for damages that belongs to the decedent’s children, spouse, and parents based on the losses that they suffered when they lost their family member. It focuses on how the wrongful death has caused these relatives financial and emotional stress.
6. Can I still bring a Katy wrongful death claim if my loved one was unemployed?
Even if your loved one was not working at the time of their death, you should still speak to a wrongful death attorney about your eligibility to pursue a wrongful death claim. Your loved one may have contributed to the family in other notable ways, such as by taking care of the children and home.
Additionally, you may qualify to recover for the loss of companionship and guidance as well as funeral and medical expenses.
Finally, depending on the deceased’s characteristics, the court may also consider potential future earnings, which are compensable in a wrongful death award.
When you retain an experienced wrongful death attorney, they can go over all of these specifics and help you determine the best strategy for your unique situation.
7. What happens if my family member died before bringing a lawsuit or while actively pursuing one?
If your loved one passed away because of another individual’s wrongful or negligent actions and could have brought a lawsuit, then you may still qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In addition, the decedent’s estate may also pursue a survival action claim. (However, it is important to remember that in a survival action suit, the estate can only recover damages incurred at the time of the decedent’s death.)
8. May I bring a wrongful death claim in Katy based on the death of an elderly individual or a child?
Yes, you can bring a wrongful death claim due to the death of a child or an elderly individual. However, keep in mind that the damages may be significantly different than if you were bringing this claim based on the death of a parent who supported a family. In many instances, wrongful death claims based on a child or an elderly individual’s death focus more on the emotionally-damaging aspects and less on the monetary matters.
9. How does the law define which parents can bring a Katy wrongful death claim?
Under Texas law, the statute defines the following individuals as parents:
- Biological parents
- Adoptive parents
- Divorced parents
Adopted children are not permitted to file a wrongful death claim related to the death of one of their biological parents. Likewise, biological parents may not file over the wrongful death of a child they put up for adoption.
Unfortunately for many families, siblings, stepparents, foster parents, and grandparents generally do not have legal standing to bring a wrongful death claim.
10. How long does a Katy wrongful death case take to resolve?
Individuals who have lost a family member, such as a child or a spouse, often want to know how long a wrongful death case will last. Understandably, they want to begin their journey toward healing from the impact of the death, and put the legal matters behind them.
Unfortunately, the answer to this question depends on whether the defendant’s insurance company is negotiating in good faith. If not, the case may take longer to get you the result you deserve.
Other tasks may prolong a case. Attorneys may need to conduct a thorough investigation during which they will look into what happened, review critical reports and evidence, and interview eyewitnesses.
At Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, we make sure that you’re prepared for every step of the process, helping you understand what actions we need to take while we continue to go after maximum compensation on your behalf. We don’t give up without a fight.
11. What is the average wrongful death settlement amount for claims in Katy?
When it comes to wrongful death lawsuits, no two cases are the same. Each case has unique facts, factors, and circumstances. Every victim has a different income, different earning potential, and different connections to their loved ones. Plus, you cannot easily put a price tag on a human life cut short.
As a result, calculating an average wrongful death settlement is tough. Instead, you should work with a knowledgeable and skilled wrongful death attorney to determine the value of your specific claim. Lawyers will look at your unique circumstances, calculate a value, and then go after maximum compensation.
12. Why do I need the team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law fighting for me in a Katy wrongful death lawsuit?
Losing a loved one is often difficult, overwhelming, and stressful. The last thing you need to deal with is the complex legal proceedings involved in a wrongful death lawsuit. However, you’re not alone. You don’t have to go through this traumatic ordeal on your own.
With the help of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, we provide the legal help you need, navigating through these complicated proceedings, and ensuring your case is treated with fairness and respect. Our wrongful death lawyers help in the following ways:
- Know your rights, know your options: When a wrongful death occurs, you may not know the ins and outs of the law, but we’ve dedicated our entire lives to it. Attorneys who have experience with wrongful death lawsuits know the legal process involved in these cases, plus what elements you must prove to succeed. We can help you explore your options and protect your rights.
- Conduct a thorough investigation: Once retained, your lawyer will get to work investigating your accident, gathering critical documents and evidence, speaking to relevant witnesses, and bringing in experts to help prove liability and damages. If you wait too long to find legal representation, important evidence may be lost or overlooked.
- Meet legal deadlines: To succeed in a wrongful death suit and maximize your compensation, you must meet all deadlines. Failure to follow through with these deadlines may end up jeopardizing your case. Our legal team can accurately complete all motions and necessary legal documents, meeting those critical deadlines every time.
- Determine the value of your claim: With our experience handling these wrongful death lawsuits, we can help properly value your claim. By evaluating the facts of your case, we can determine what factors may impact your loss and figure out how much compensation you should pursue. When going over your claim and potential settlement, we consider your loved one’s medical expenses, funeral expenses, and pain and suffering, as well as lost earnings.
- Handle the tedious details of your case: Our attorneys can support you during this difficult time. While we handle all the tedious details of your claim, you can focus on your loss and begin the healing process with as little disruption as possible.
- From negotiation to litigation: Our lawyers can handle all of the discussions and negotiations with the insurance company. If the other side is unwilling to negotiate fairly, we are prepared to take your case to trial, fighting fiercely to maximize your compensation.
Contact Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law’s Team of Katy Wrongful Death Lawyers
Losing a loved one is difficult no matter the circumstances, but finding out that your loved one died in a preventable accident due to the negligent actions of another party only increases the level of suffering.
Fortunately, Texas law allows eligible family members to pursue compensation. A wrongful death suit can cover some of the damages associated with the loss of a loved one.
Wrongful death claims are complex and difficult to navigate, particularly for individuals without legal experience. No one wants to bear the burden of a wrongful death lawsuit while simultaneously trying to recover from the loss of a loved one – and they shouldn’t have to.
The experienced legal team at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law understands how to pursue compensation following a wrongful death, and we provide compassionate representation to surviving family members, allowing them to focus on their own recoveries and not the legal complexities of their wrongful death claim.
With our client-focused approach, we genuinely sympathize with you. We see the big picture, not just another case number.
If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful actions of another, do not wait any longer. Contact the law offices of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, today, and let us pursue justice on your behalf.
The legal team of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, is nationally recognized for protecting the rights of injured victims for more than 20 years. If your loved one died due to the negligent actions of another person in Katy, call our office right now for a free consultation! Because we take all of our personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, you owe us nothing unless we win your case. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so call us today at 800-898-4877 or contact us online now.
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