Houston Wrongful Death Attorney Joe Stephens has published a book that will help you if you are dealing with the loss of a loved one: Survivor’s Legal Guide. You can get a FREE COPY of this book by filling out the form here.
What is Wrongful Death Law?
Texas law allows two different actions when somebody is wrongfully killed: (1) a wrongful death action, and (2) a survival action. There are significant differences between the two actions with regard to who can recover damages and what damages are available.
Should I Bring A Wrongful Death Claim?
The Stephens Law Firm has had the privilege and honor of representing many families who have suffered through the wrongful death of a loved one. Joe has tried over 100 jury trials to Texas juries, many of them involving wrongful deaths. He has counseled hundreds of people who have suffered catastrophic losses who are having a hard time coping with losses like yours. I always hear my clients say something like this:
No amount of money will ever replace my child, or my husband, or my wife, so what good will it do for me to ask for money? What good will the money do? It will never make the pain go away.”
I always tell them:
“You are 100 percent correct. You don’t want a dime, what you want is for your loved one to walk through that door, and you will gladly skip out of the room with a joyful heart, hugging and laughing as you go.”
The law is so fragile; it has no power to return your loved one. Only the good LORD in heaven has the power to unite you with him or her. But I ask, what are we to do if your loved one was wrongfully and negligently killed due to the irresponsible act of another? Is it proper and righteous for us to seek justice? If it is, then the only justice the law allows in a civil case is for the payment of a “fair and reasonable amount of money” that should equal “fair and reasonable Justice” in the case. That is all the law can do. The law allows you to recover compensation for the financial losses that you have sustained, as well as a reasonable amount of money to compensate you for the overwhelming grief, torment, and suffering that you are now experiencing, and will experience for the balance of your life. The money replaces your financial losses for lost income and benefits. Money also allows you, and your family, to use the money in very meaningful ways. Some folks put the money in charities and foundations, and others use it in a manner that your loved one would want you to. It may provide you the means to bring some small measure of joy in your life to replace the hole in your heart.
Some folks still feel guilty about asking for money for their loss. Another way to look at it is to acknowledge the Rule which says that those in our society who negligently cause harm should be held accountable for the damage they have caused. This is true whether it be harm to property, health, or life. That is the principal behind the concept of “Justice,” holding the wrongdoer accountable for the wrong doing instead of making the innocent person “grin and bear it.”
Suppose that a wrongdoer negligently broke out the windshield of your car. Would it be fair to make him pay $750, if that was a fair price to replace the windshield? Or, suppose that the wrongdoer negligently ran into a building that contained expensive art and caused $3,000,000 worth of damage. Would it be fair for him to say that he didn’t know that the building contained such valuable merchandise, and therefore, the business should just eat their losses? What would really be unfair is to permit the negligent wrongdoer to both cause the harm, and keep the money that represents the value of the destroyed paintings. That would really be an injustice.
Can you imagine anything more valuable than a human life? And if the law mandates that our juries place a reasonable value on the losses that were caused, isn’t it alright for you to ask that the law be enforced?
Wrongful Death FAQ
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