A wrongful death in Texas will not affect just one person. It impacts everyone in the deceased victim’s immediate family – including a spouse, child, grandchild parent and sibling. A common question during wrongful death lawsuits is how proceeds won will be divided among recipients. The answer to this will depend on many factors, including state laws, the deceased person’s last will and testament, and the wishes of the family.
First, learn who may file a wrongful death claim in Texas, as well as what types of damages claimants can request. The parties who bear the right to file wrongful death claims are the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children and parents. If you are in this group, you may file individually or your family may file together. The damages available in a wrongful death claim in Texas include funeral and burial costs, lost earnings and benefits, lost inheritance, lost love and companionship, lost care and services, and emotional pain and suffering. Who receives the compensatory award in a wrongful death claim depends on the case.
Each state has different distribution laws for wrongful death claims. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 71 determines who will receive a portion of the award won during a wrongful death suit in the state. First, the statute gives adult beneficiaries the chance to work out an arrangement among themselves. All beneficiaries must be adults who can compromise and agree on the terms of the division for this strategy to work. State law in Texas is specific in who it sees as beneficiaries after the death of a loved one. It typically names surviving spouses and children as the main recipients.
Most wrongful death claims settle outside of court. If this is the case, adult beneficiaries can decide how to split the proceeds. Should beneficiaries be unable to agree, a lawyer may intervene to help divide the proceeds fairly. Lawyers usually use precedents set by previous wrongful death juries to determine how much to allot each surviving family member. If a wrongful death claim in Texas goes to trial, however, a jury will have the difficult decision as to who will receive how much.
The court will have full discretion over how to divide the proceeds of a wrongful death trial in Texas. Jurors typically give the most compensation to surviving spouses, followed by minor children and parents of deceased minor children. A jury will award compensation to each eligible surviving family member based on the extent of the losses that person suffered. The amount awarded will match how much the loved one lost due to the decedent’s unexpected death.
Most families in Texas will benefit from hiring wrongful death lawyers from the very beginnings of their claims. Lawyers know what these cases require and how to maximize a family’s payout. If you work with a wrongful death attorney, he or she can help your family decide how to allocate the funds won in an insurance settlement. Your lawyer can facilitate conversations and compromises to help your family decide how to distribute a settlement among loved ones rather than going to trial. A lawyer can also increase the chances of your family working together on a group lawsuit, rather than each family member hiring his or her own attorney and filing a separate claim.
The right wrongful death lawyer can help you and your family through this difficult time. From letting you know whether you have grounds for a claim to helping you distribute the funds won, your lawyer can take care of difficult and complex tasks for you while you focus on grieving. If you have further questions regarding how to divide wrongful death proceeds in Texas, contact an attorney from The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. today.