The death of a loved one is a tragic event that can take its toll on many different individuals. Some may have relied on the deceased physically or emotionally, while others may have been financially dependent on them.
However, under the law, only certain people can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas to recover compensation for their loss. A single suit may have multiple claimants, further complicating the legal process. One major concern of the affected parties revolves around dividing the settlement proceeds after successfully fighting the case.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys have extensive experience helping grieving families get the justice they deserve and have recovered millions of dollars in wrongful death damages for their clients. Those who have lost a loved one in Houston, Texas, should reach out to them to discuss their case and learn more about their legal options. They can also provide insight on What damages can be claimed in a Texas wrongful death lawsuit.
How Do I Divide a Wrongful Death Settlement in Texas?
Most wrongful death cases are settled outside of the courts, as heading to trial can be a time-consuming and expensive legal process. When the claimant negotiates a settlement with the negligent party's insurance company, there may be more than one surviving family member who may have rights over the proceeds.
The best-case scenario involves the surviving family members working together and agreeing on how they wish to divide the settlement amount. However, there may be disagreements, which is why they may want to seek the assistance of an experienced wrongful death attorney.
When a wrongful death lawyer takes a case and negotiates a fair settlement on behalf of the claimant, they may apply past legal precedence from similar cases.
Besides that, a skilled wrongful death attorney may consider a few things before determining how to split the settlement proceeds. These may include the following:
Are there any surviving minors involved?
Are the beneficiaries capable of agreeing on a fair division?
Are there any disagreements between the beneficiaries?
What is the relationship between the beneficiaries and the deceased?
After the attorney negotiates a fair settlement, they'll divide the wrongful death settlement as equitably as possible. Those who were financially dependent on the deceased or those who have suffered greater emotional distress may receive a higher proportion of the proceeds.
In wrongful death claims involving parents and minor children, the minors are more likely to receive a greater portion of the settlement, as they're likely to lose more financially from the tragic event.
On the other hand, a surviving spouse gets a higher percentage of the proceeds than minors, especially if they are financially dependent on the deceased.
An experienced attorney can help the surviving family members by assessing the facts surrounding the wrongful death claim and assisting in distributing the settlement amount as fairly as possible.
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Divided When Cases Go to Trial?
When wrongful death lawsuits proceed to trial, the outcome of the case lies with the jury, which means they get to decide the compensation amount and how it gets split up among the surviving family members.
How Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Get Divided in a Case with No Dispute?
When a wrongful death case involves adult beneficiaries who are cooperative with each other, it can simplify legal matters. They can come together and act as a single entity by working with an experienced attorney.
Since they have a mutual agreement with each other, the adult beneficiaries do not need to hire multiple fatal injury lawyers and file numerous claims for the same case. They decide how they want to split the settlement before letting their lawyer know of their decision.
The attorney works as a referee to implement the decision of the surviving family members by drafting a contract agreement. They then split the wrongful death proceeds according to the signed document after successfully negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. It can be helpful to know Is there a cap on wrongful death settlements?
How Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Get Divided in a Case Involving Dispute?
When there are disputes among the adult beneficiaries, they may decide to file wrongful death claims separately, which means there will be different attorneys involved.
The surviving spouse might work with one lawyer to protect their interests, while other family members may seek legal representation from other law firms.
However, this type of arrangement often does not work well for the different claimants, as the defendant and their insurance company get enough opportunity to dictate the settlement terms.
The plaintiffs may decide on the attorneys working together so that the different legal teams can fight for a fair share of the wrongful death compensation.
In this arrangement, the adult beneficiaries have their own attorneys, who come together to file a single claim or lawsuit. This is commonly referred to as an "aggregate claim."
Filing an aggregate claim allows the attorneys to recover more than if they were to file the claims separately. There is a downside to this. The party with the weakest wrongful death lawyer may receive a smaller portion of the settlement amount.
Why Is It Better for the Adult Beneficiaries in a Wrongful Death Case to Work Together?
When there are multiple beneficiaries who decide to file wrongful death claims separately, they may hire their own law firms, which means every party will be bearing legal costs. This increases the overall amount paid for representation.
Some claimants might find this arrangement a good option if they're not getting along with the other beneficiaries. However, if there is no tussle between the surviving family members, it's best to work together and recover a greater settlement amount.
When Can Surviving Family Members File Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Texas?
According to the Texas statute of limitations, a surviving family member can bring a wrongful death claim within two years from the date of the death of their loved one. Certain circumstances can put a hold on the time the affected party has to pursue civil action.
Building a strong wrongful death lawsuit or claim can not only take time, but it requires legal expertise. It's best for the affected parties to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Can Help Grieving Families Get Maximum Wrongful Death Settlements!
Those who have lost a loved one in Houston, Texas, due to another's negligence should call to schedule a free consultation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. They have extensive experience handling wrongful death cases and can fight for the rights of the affected parties, ensuring that they receive maximum compensation.