Nothing is enough to take away the mental anguish when you lose a loved one. However, if an attorney determines you have a wrongful death lawsuit on your hands, then you may be able to take legal action and recover damages.
This compensation is often much-needed financial support for surviving family members. Consult a wrongful death attorney to discuss your legal rights after a loved one’s potential wrongful death.
Types of Damages Awarded in Unlawful Death Lawsuits
There are three types of damages you may be awarded when you have a wrongful death claim. Most often, you’ll win economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Economic damages are intended to reimburse you for financial losses. One type of economic damage you may recover is the cost of your deceased loved one’s medical treatment. The exact value of economic damages can be calculated, and you may be fully reimbursed.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses with no set financial value. Instead, a wide range of damages are covered.
Common types of non-economic damages are:
- Conscious pain and suffering
- Emotional distress of the decedent’s survivors
- Loss of consortium
Negotiating how much you may be paid out in non-economic wrongful death damages is usually time-consuming.
The amount you may claim varies. The total value of your economic damages is multiplied by a number between 1.5 and 5. This method will usually calculate your non-financial damages as a whole.
Punitive damages are not awarded in every case. If the court wishes to punish the person or people responsible for your loved one’s death, then punitive damages may be imposed. They may also be imposed to make an example of the responsible party.
What Can I Be Compensated for In a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The specific things you may be compensated for in a wrongful death lawsuit vary depending on your case. You’ll find some examples of the common types of damages often won in wrongful death claims below. Speak to your attorney about which wrongful death damages are likely to apply in your case.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
The decedent’s funeral and burial expenses are considered economic damage. Funeral costs covered in wrongful death cases may include:
- The urn/casket
- Burial plot/vault
- Funeral home expenses
- Death certificate costs
- Procession vehicle
- Printed materials
The wrongful death damages awarded typically won’t cover additional things you may wish to buy for your loved one, such as special memorials. Generally speaking, it’s only the essential funeral expenses that are covered.
Lost Earning Capacity
Your loved one’s lost earning capacity will likely be covered as an economic damage in your wrongful death case. Their lost wages will usually be calculated based on their salary from before they passed away.
Lost benefits such as annual bonuses, paid time off, and paid vacation time may be included when calculating lost earning capacity.
If the deceased person was undergoing medical treatment before their death, then you may be compensated for the cost of this treatment. The amount of compensation for medical expenses is usually calculated based on the deceased’s medical bills. This greatly eases medical expenses related stress on loved ones after the decedent’s death.
Loss of Retirement Benefits and Inheritance
Other financial damages you may be compensated for include:
- Loss of retirement benefits
- Loss of inheritance of the decedent’s estate
Your attorney may try to help you prove that you are the beneficiary of the decedent’s estate. Your life expectancy will be taken into account, too.
If your loved one endured any physical pain and suffering, then you may be awarded non-economic damages based on this. The amount you claim depends on how extreme your loved one’s pain and suffering were.
Your emotional distress will be taken into account, and you may be able to seek damages for it. If your emotional trauma includes psychological damages such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety, then you should speak to your attorney about this.
The extent of your emotional trauma may be analyzed during the wrongful death case. The severity of your distress may influence how much your attorney recommends you claim for your non-economic losses.
Loss of Consortium
Loss of consortium is something else that may be considered in a wrongful death suit. There are certain emotional and/or physical benefits that were brought to you by your relationship with the deceased. Loss of consortium refers to the loss of these benefits.
The surviving spouse, children, and parents may make a claim for loss of consortium in a wrongful death case. However, damages for loss of consortium are not always awarded.
Loss of consortium as a term may cover lost companionship, guidance, emotional support, and more.
How Much Do Wrongful Death Lawsuits Usually Pay Out?
The circumstances surrounding an unlawful death lawsuit will often vary significantly. As a result, there’s no average payout for wrongful death actions in the state of Texas. However, many surviving relatives and spouses recover compensation between $500,000 and $1 million in wrongful death suits.
Some cases have been known to pay out for up to $10 million. In some cases, these large payouts occur without the case ever having to go to court.
How Do You Prove a Wrongful Death?
There are various types of evidence used to prove someone’s passing was wrongful. Expert witnesses may give statements. Footage from an accident site may be used. The evidence needed varies depending on the case.
Who Can Make a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
By Texas state law, a deceased person’s adult children, parents, and legal spouse may be able to make a wrongful death claim. However, if none of these parties make a claim within three months, then estate representatives may be able to file a claim instead.
Multiple parties may be able to make a wrongful death claim, and each party will be considered a separate claimant.
A minor child or minor children may be able to make wrongful death claims if they are the only surviving family members of the decedent. For minor children to make a claim, one of the following situations must have occurred:
- The deceased was the children’s only parent
- Both parents were killed in the same accident
How Long Do You Have To Make a Wrongful Death Claim?
How long you have to make a claim depends on your state’s wrongful death Statute of Limitations. Wrongful death statutes vary. Texas state’s wrongful death Statute of Limitations is two years. This means you may be able to make a claim for up to two years after the decedent’s death.
Is a Wrongful Death a Criminal Case?
Wrongful deaths do not automatically lead to criminal cases. However, in some cases, the responsible party will end up with criminal charges and have to face a criminal trial. The circumstances surrounding the death may influence whether or not criminal charges are involved.
Contact an Attorney if Your Loved One Suffered a Wrongful Death
When a person dies due to an injury caused by work, a car accident, medical malpractice, or another wrongful act based on someone else’s negligence, then surviving loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death action. Winning the lawsuit may offer financial support to immediate family members after the death of a loved one. Contact Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, at 936-251-5246 and speak to an experienced lawyer about opening a wrongful death lawsuit.