What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Case?
Posted on June 23, 2022
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In personal injury law, damages refers to the amount of money granted to a victim for a breach or violation of a duty of care by a defendant. Damages are awarded to make an injured party whole again after suffering a loss or injury due to a wrongful act. Although no amount of money can reimburse a family for a loss of life, the damages available in a wrongful death claim in Dallas can help a family achieve justice and greater financial stability in the future.
There are two broad categories of damages available in a wrongful death case in Texas. The first permits beneficiaries of the deceased person (the decedent) to recover for their losses connected to the loss of a loved one’s life. The second reimburses the decedent’s estate for the losses he or she suffered between the date of the accident and the date of death.
One type of financial compensation that falls into the second category is lost earnings. This refers to the deceased individual’s lost wages, lost employment benefits and lost capacity to earn, including the wages he or she foreseeably would have earned in the future, had the fatal accident not occurred. The amount recoverable in lost wages will depend on the decedent’s income and age at the time of death.
Lost inheritance reimburses surviving family members for the value of what the deceased person likely would have saved and bestowed to surviving beneficiaries had he or she lived a normal expected lifetime. This can include inheritance in the form of savings, property, a 401(k), retirement benefits, stocks and bonds, and other investments. The courts will estimate what the decedent likely would have made and passed onto his or her heirs had the fatal accident not taken place.
Lost Services, Support and Love
Lost services and support is an intangible category of damages that refers to survivors’ losses of the decedent’s household services, such as chores, cooking, childcare and handiwork. This damage category can also refer to the loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, care, advice and comfort given to loved ones. These losses can apply to a parent-child relationship as well as a spousal relationship.
Pain, Suffering and Emotional Distress
A successful wrongful death lawsuit can reimburse family members for their emotional distress and mental anguish, as well as the decedent for his or her pain and suffering in the time leading up to the death. This damage category can encompass physical pain, emotional suffering, distress, psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, reduced quality of life and many other noneconomic damages connected to the unexpected loss of life.
Texas Revised Statute Section 71.009 states that if a death is caused by a willful act or omission, or by gross negligence on the part of the defendant, the plaintiff may recover exemplary damages in addition to actual damages. Gross negligence is a reckless disregard for the safety of others. Exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages, serve to punish a defendant rather than reimburse a plaintiff. A judge will determine an amount in punitive damages, if any, based on the circumstances of the individual case.
How Much Is Your Wrongful Death Case Worth?
There is no such thing as an average settlement value for a wrongful death case. The value of your family’s wrongful death case will depend on many factors and circumstances unique to you. A wrongful death lawyer in Dallas will review the specific facts of your case and give you an accurate evaluation.
Then, your attorney can negotiate with an insurance corporation on your behalf or represent your family during a trial. A lawyer will fight for maximum financial compensation to give your family justice, closure and the recovery you need to move forward. For more information, contact The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert to request a free wrongful death case review.