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Texas Wrongful Death Information

What is a wrongful death claim?

Texas law defines a wrongful death as one that results from the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of another. It is a civil (not criminal) action that can arise after a vehicle collision.

The sudden end of a person’s life is often the worst experience their spouse and family can go through. There is no sum of money or punishment that can lessen the pain. The civil justice system allows the survivors to file a lawsuit or make an insurance claim to recoup their damages.

However there are many legal, financial, medical, religious, and emotional issues that need to be dealt with.

Wrongful death damages: what can be recovered in Texas?

Whether your case settles out of court or goes to a trial, wrongful death damages can be paid by the at-fault driver’s or his company’s insurance policy for the following categories:

  • Medical bills;
  • Funeral expenses;
  • Lost income and job benefits;
  • Lost lifetime benefits;
  • Lost inheritances;
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering suffered by the survivors;
  • Mental anguish suffered by the decedent;
  • Loss of companionship and consortium;
  • Property damage; and
  • Punitive damages (in very limited cases)

How much money is available to pay the family?

Every fatality crash, whether caused by a car, truck, or 18-wheeler, is completely different. So there is no way to know the final result before all pertinent facts and legal issues are known.

However, there are some general guidelines. The negligent driver may have only has purchased the minimum required insurance, which is limited to a maximum of $30,000.00 for the loss to any one person, $60,000.00 for the damages to all persons, and $25,000.00 for property damage.

No, that is not enough, although many states require less coverage than that.

On the other hand, some drivers purchase higher amounts of liability insurance. If a commercial vehicle, for example a Federal Express 18-wheeler or even a landscaping or plumbing company, is responsible for the death, the amount of its liability policy will be much higher. Federal law requires a minimum of $750,000.00 for tractor-trailers.

If you are considering filing for wrongful death damages, consult with an injury lawyer. Berenson Injury Law has represented many families and individuals who have lost loved ones over the past 40 years. Please call us at 1-888-801-8585 or chat with us.

is There a “Typical” Wrongful Death Settlement in Texas?

Absolutely nothing is typical about the unexpected death of a loved one. Just as your lost family member was unique, so too are the details and circumstances of their accident and untimely passing. The value of a wrongful death claim depends on countless factors.

Wrongful death lawyers investigate the fatal accident or incident and compile information to determine the total amount of damages incurred by the victim and their family. They may rely on testimony from expert witnesses, medical records, and other evidence to help calculate all financial, physical, and emotional damages.

Other factors that can affect the value of your claim include:

  • The victim’s injuries,
  • The victim’s age,
  • The victim’s occupation and income, and
  • The victim’s future earning potential.

The other parties involved in the case, including the at-fault party’s insurance company, may also influence the final settlement value. If your attorney must file a lawsuit and fight for your settlement in court, this can also affect your claim’s value.

Can a Wrongful Death Settlement Calculator Identify Your Claim’s Value?

You may have come across online calculators designed to help you value your wrongful death settlement. Unfortunately, these calculators take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Without an in-depth analysis of both tangible and intangible losses, it isn’t possible to determine the value of your damages. That’s why talking to an experienced wrongful death attorney is critical.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?

To qualify as a wrongful death, the victim must have died due to the wrongful actions of another party. You or your attorney must prove that the at-fault party has liability for the fatality, either through negligence or intent.

When the death was caused by the defendant’s negligence, this requires establishing that the defendant:

  1. Owed a duty of care to the victim,
  2. Failed to uphold the duty, and thus
  3. Caused the victim’s death.

Even if you can prove fault and liability, only certain people can pursue legal action under Texas law. In Texas, the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased can legally bring a wrongful death claim. Legally adopted children and adoptive parents also have legal standing in Texas.

If none of these family members files a claim within three months of the death, the executor of the victim’s estate can file a claim. The law sometimes allows limited exceptions to this list of qualified parties, however. Your lawyer can advise you whether you have the right to pursue legal action for wrongful death.

What Factors Affect the Value of a Wrongful Death Settlement in Texas?

Settlement amounts are valued based on wrongful death damages. Recoverable damages in your case may include some or all of the following:

  • The victim’s medical care and treatment before death;
  • The victim’s lost income and benefits before death;
  • Burial, cremation, and funeral costs;
  • Lost future earnings and benefits;
  • Lost future financial support, gifts, or inheritance;
  • Loss of companionship and comfort;
  • Lost value of household services; and
  • Pain and suffering.

Attorneys calculate these values using information such as:

  • Wage and earnings records,
  • Tax returns,
  • Copies of medical bills, and
  • Expert opinions and testimony.

Other factors that can affect the value of a wrongful death claim include specific factors about the victim such as:

  • Age,
  • Education,
  • Job status, and
  • Role in the family or household.

For example, a younger victim might have had more potential years for earning a salary. Attorneys also consider whether the victim’s actions contributed toward the fatal incident or accident. In that case, the value of the wrongful death claim could be diminished.

Finally, the severity of the at-fault party’s actions could affect the value of your claim. In the case of gross negligence, your lawyer may recommend pursuing a larger settlement.

Why Is the Typical Wrongful Death Settlement Higher than Other Personal Injury Claims?

Both Texas personal injury and wrongful death claims are valued based on the economic value of what the victim(s) lost. In most cases, the cost of losing an immediate family member is significantly greater than the losses associated with an injury. Most people who suffer a personal injury can and do recover over time.

Victims can often return to work and resume their normal day-to-day activities. In the case of wrongful death, the victim will never have that opportunity.

Fatal Car Crashes in Fort Worth

Houston, TX - One Killed, Two Injured in Three-Car Crash on Lee Rd at FM 1960 & Bush Airport Whether it’s long-term physical issues, costly medical bills and job loss, or even death, the victims of fatal car accidents caused by drunk drivers and their families are left vulnerable. But those affected by a serious Texas car accident can and should contact an injury lawyer in Houston for guidance. In some cases, a skilled car accident attorney in Texas can help victims get justice, as well as a full and fair settlement from a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit.

Reaching out to a wrongful death attorney in the Houston area is in your best interest after you have lost a loved one due to a crash. An attorney can review all of the facts surrounding your wreck to determine if you have the right to pursue compensation. Furthermore, a dedicated lawyer can help you recoup some or all of the losses you sustained in the accident. Accident attorneys will tailor their advice to match your specific needs. If you’ve been involved in a collision or lost a family member to the negligent actions of another driver, it’s important that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Don’t let insurance adjusters control the outcome of your claim. Protect yourself and your family from the very beginning, and avoid letting insurance companies twist your words against you in the aftermath of an accident. Safeguard your victim’s rights by getting in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible.

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