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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Dealing with a wrongful death claim is about more than just the facts of the case and the amount of money being sued for. It is also about understanding what the surviving family members are going through after a loved one's death.

As such, wrongful death attorneys need to have a lot more compassion and experience than the average personal injury lawyer. An excellent attorney-client relationship is one of the basic requirements for an experienced fatal injury attorney.

In Texas, the law is on the side of the victim's surviving family members when it comes to cases where someone lost their life due to another party's gross negligence.

Texas courts recognize the economic and emotional impact of losing a loved one. They provide the surviving spouse, children, and parents a way to seek compensatory damages.

However, that does not mean wrongful death claims are straightforward cases. Due to the high settlement amounts that can be awarded in such lawsuits, the at-fault party or their insurance company is often reluctant to pay.

It will take a very good wrongful death attorney to fight for the rights of the victims in these types of lawsuits.

In that regard, Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is ready to help victims of a wrongful death in Texas. Top-rated wrongful death attorneys are available at +1 713-999-4150 for a free consultation. They can help answer questions like How do I divide a wrongful death settlement in Texas?

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death can best be described as the premature death of someone (or a fetus) caused by the negligence of another party.

In Texas, three elements must be fulfilled for a successful wrongful death claim, and these are:

  • The person or fetus sustains a fatal injury.

  • Another party is responsible for causing the fatal injury due to negligence, wrongful acts, lack of skills, or carelessness.

  • Had they lived, the deceased person would have filed a personal injury lawsuit in Texas.

When these three elements are present at the same time, the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased person have a very good chance of receiving compensatory damages through a wrongful death claim.

There are many examples of wrongful death lawsuits that can be brought before Texas courts, such as car accidents, dangerous premises, medical malpractice, defective products, and intentional crimes.

Unlike criminal homicide cases that can be opened for some of these crimes, a wrongful death lawsuit is more about receiving financial compensation rather than seeking justice against the at-fault party. However, elements of punishment can also exist in wrongful death claims when it comes to awarding punitive damages to the surviving families.

What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The question on the lips of most family members of the deceased person when they walk into a lawyer's office is "What damages can be claimed in a Texas wrongful death lawsuit?"

Well, Texas wrongful death cases can be resolved by awarding one or all of the following types of compensatory damages to the deceased person's estate or surviving spouse, children, and parents:

Economic Damages

The biggest chunk of compensatory damages in a Texas wrongful death case is often awarded to make up for the financial losses the family members have suffered due to the untimely death of their loved one.

These damages are designed to provide financial support at a time when the bereaved may be struggling to cope with their loved one's death, especially in cases where the deceased person was also the main provider for the family.

In a Texas wrongful death suit, the following economic damages may be awarded:

  • Lost wages

  • Loss of future earnings

  • Lost household services

  • Cost of medical and funeral expenses

  • Lost inheritance

  • Burial expenses

  • Lost earning capacity

  • Loss of retirement benefits

Non-economic Damages

Family members can also file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for non-economic damages which, unlike the ones above, may be difficult to quantify as measurable monetary losses.

Even though non-economic damages do not have a direct financial impact on the lives of surviving family members, they are still necessary because of the need to address the emotional pain and suffering that a loved one's death can bring.

However, a lack of direct financial implications makes non-economic damages quite subjective. The previous damages may only require receipts and written statements from employers to prove their value.

Non-economic damages, on the other hand, often require a skilled wrongful death attorney to convince the jury that the victims deserve this type of settlement on top of the financial support they have already been awarded. They can also help with more questions such as Are wrongful death settlements tax deductible?

Common non-economic damages include:

  • Physical pain and suffering of the deceased

  • Emotional distress of the surviving relatives

  • Mental anguish

  • Loss of companionship, love, and consortium

Punitive Damages

Punitive wrongful death damages may be awarded in cases where the wrongful act was willful, intentional, or caused by gross negligence.

In a Texas wrongful death claim, punitive damages are also referred to as exemplary measures because they are intended as a deterrent to other possible offenders.

Awarding punitive damages in a wrongful death case is often meant to punish the at-fault party for the way they committed the wrongful act, or tried to deceive the court later on.

Who Is Allowed to File a Texas Wrongful Death Claim?

In most cases, only the immediate family members of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit under Texas law. This means the following are entitled to be Texas wrongful death beneficiaries:

  • Spouse

  • Children

  • Parents

Any of these family members have three months after the death of their loved one to file a wrongful death claim. If they do not, the executor of the estate of the deceased may do so, unless advised not to by the surviving family members.

After the wrongful death lawsuit is finalized, the beneficiaries can decide among themselves how much each family member is going to receive. However, with wrongful death lawsuits that go to trial, it will be up to the jury to decide how the money will be shared.

Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Case

Victims need to understand that there is a statute of limitations that needs to be adhered to when filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas.

They only have two years from the date of the deceased person's death for a family member or personal representative of the deceased's estate to initiate wrongful death action against the at-fault party.

If these two years expire, the surviving relatives will lose any legal claim they had over the people who caused the death of their loved one.

What Are Survival Claims?

In Texas, certain circumstances allow family members to bring survival claims against the negligent party. This is a type of personal injury lawsuit that the deceased would have filed if they had not passed away before getting the chance to do so.

Such personal injury cases are meant to help the surviving family members recover medical and funeral expenses related to the decedent’s injury and death. These damages are mainly aimed at compensating the pain the decedent suffered before their passing, rather than what the survivors have experienced.

Factors That Affect the Value of Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Many factors affect the value of a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, such as:

  • Medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral costs

  • Age of the children left behind

  • The experience of the legal team representing the victims

  • Weight of evidence

  • The need to impose punitive damages

Proving Negligence in Texas Wrongful Death Claims

The most important job of an experienced wrongful death attorney is to prove someone else's negligence and recover compensation on behalf of the survivors. In that regard, the following elements must be shown in court:

  • Duty of care to the deceased

  • Breach of duty of care by the negligent party

  • Causation (breach of duty leading to death)

  • Damages suffered by the deceased and remaining family members

How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Assist Surviving Family Members?

How Can a Wrongful Death Attorney Assist Surviving Family Members?

Filing for wrongful death in Texas is not always an easy thing to do. Often, family members may find it difficult to get the compensatory damages they deserve without a good attorney by their side to assist with the following:

Legal Advice

What is wrongful death in Texas? What damages can be claimed in a Texas wrongful death lawsuit? How long do families have to file their legal claim? An experienced personal injury attorney can help answer these and other questions when preparing to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Fighting for the Rights of Surviving Family Members

If the wrongful death lawsuit ends up in a Texas court, it might become a dogfight between the surviving family members and the negligent party. Such cases require all the knowledge, skill, and strength an experienced lawyer can bring.

Negotiating a Fair Settlement

Insurance companies will always try to pay as little as possible to the remaining family members. Only a good lawyer will be able to negotiate a fair settlement on the family's behalf.

Top-rated Wrongful Death Lawyer Ready to Go to War

There are many things to consider when filing wrongful death cases in Texas. As such, family members of the deceased need to have a good attorney in their corner if they are to walk away with the compensation they deserve.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys has been handling Houston, TX wrongful death cases for many years. The law firm is ready to go to war for the rights of victims considering filing wrongful death claims.


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