When a loved one is killed by someone else’s actions, the surviving family members may have a wrongful death claim. There are different types of compensation that may be awarded in a wrongful death action, as well as certain rules in place governing how settlement proceeds are divided in Texas. Who Will Receive Compensation in a Texas Wrongful Death Claim How wrongful death settlement proceeds are divided in Texas is in accordance with Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 71. Texas law explicitly names who is recognized as a beneficiary after the wrongful death of a loved one, mainly surviving spouses, children, and parents. If minor children are involved, the court may designate a guardian of the minor as the person who will receive the compensation. Like most civil lawsuits, wrongful death claims are often settled before reaching the courtroom. Once a settlement is reached, adult beneficiaries are first given a chance to work out on their own how funds will be distributed. However, disputes can arise between family members who disagree on how the proceeds should be divided. At that point, a lawyer can step in to help split the compensation fairly. Wrongful death lawyers will typically draw on precedents set by jury decisions in other wrongful death cases to determine how to divide the proceeds among each surviving family member. If a wrongful death claim reaches trial, however, a jury will have the responsibility to designate how much each person is entitled to receive. How a Texas Jury Will Divide Wrongful Death Settlement Proceeds Juries have generally divided wrongful death settlement proceeds in other cases as follows: More compensation is typically allocated to the victim’s surviving spouse. Minor children who lost a parent may not be awarded the same amount as a spouse, but it will be substantial. Parents who have lost a minor child are commonly awarded a considerable amount. Awards are typically limited for middle-aged or elderly persons that have lost an adult child and for adult children who have lost a parent. Issues such as structured settlements or trust accounts can also impact the distribution of proceeds. Types of Compensation Available in a Wrongful Death Claim The family of a deceased loved one can seek compensation for the following: Loss of financial support Loss of companionship (the harm caused by the end of the relationship) Mental anguish. Funeral and burial expenses Medical expenses for your loved one’s care after the accident and up until their death Property damage caused by the accident Lost income due to injuries Pain and suffering after an accident up until death. In some instances that involve a defendant who acted willfully or exhibited gross forms of negligence, the court may award punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the defendant and discourage others from similar negligence. However, they are rarely awarded because there must be proof of intentional or extreme behavior. We Can Help You Through This Difficult Time Please contact Milano Legal Group if you have any questions about a wrongful death lawsuit or are considering filing one. Our Houston Wrongful Death Attorney can discuss your situation in a free consultation. Call (713) 489-4270 today.
A wrongful death action allows certain family members to receive compensation when a loved one dies. There are many different examples of wrongful death, including accidental deaths in car accidents. If a family member has been killed in a crash, you might be interested in the average wrongful death settlement. However, there is no average wrongful death settlement in Texas. No one has kept that information, since settlements are usually private. Also, each case is different and must be understood based on its own facts. Below, we run down through the considerations that help a Houston wrongful death attorney estimate the amount a client can receive in a wrongful death settlement. Wrongful Death Damages Damages are awarded to family members to compensate for the loss of their loved one. Depending on the circumstances, you could be entitled to compensation for: Lost earnings Loss of support or services your loved one provided Loss of care the deceased provided Loss of comfort, companionship, society, and love Loss of an inheritance Calculating the amount you can receive in a settlement is difficult. For example, to calculate lost income, an attorney will need to know your loved one’s age, the amount he or she made while living, as well as education and experience. Other losses are harder to put a price tag on. No amount of money can make up for the loss of love and companionship that you have suffered. However, a jury cannot bring your loved one back to life, so giving an award of money is the only other option. Limitations on Settlements You can’t always get 100% of what you deserve after a car accident. One common reason: the driver did not carry enough insurance to fully cover your losses. For example, your husband might have died at age 26. This means he probably had 40 years (at least) of working life ahead of him. The amount of income he could have made during those four decades probably totals more than $1 million and sometimes much more. Unfortunately, few drivers have an insurance policy large enough to cover this amount of loss. Instead, Texas law requires that those registering a motor vehicle carry only the minimum amount of liability insurance, which is currently $30,000. If the defendant has other assets—such as investments or money sitting in a bank account—then it makes sense to sue to recover more money than the insurance policy provides. However, many people don’t have any other assets, so the insurance policy represents the maximum recovery. Questions about the Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? Contact Us At Milano Legal Group Accident Attorneys, we have helped countless motorists just like you get the money you deserve after a devastating car accident. In your moment of grief, call us. We can handle all the legal issues and allow you to focus on what matters most—your family. To schedule a free consultation, please contact out firm today.