When a loved one is killed by someone else’s actions, the surviving family members may have a wrongful death claim. There are different types of compensation that may be awarded in a wrongful death action, as well as certain rules in place governing how settlement proceeds are divided in Texas.
Who Will Receive Compensation in a Texas Wrongful Death Claim
How wrongful death settlement proceeds are divided in Texas is in accordance with Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 71. Texas law explicitly names who is recognized as a beneficiary after the wrongful death of a loved one, mainly surviving spouses, children, and parents. If minor children are involved, the court may designate a guardian of the minor as the person who will receive the compensation.
Like most civil lawsuits, wrongful death claims are often settled before reaching the courtroom. Once a settlement is reached, adult beneficiaries are first given a chance to work out on their own how funds will be distributed. However, disputes can arise between family members who disagree on how the proceeds should be divided. At that point, a lawyer can step in to help split the compensation fairly.
Wrongful death lawyers will typically draw on precedents set by jury decisions in other wrongful death cases to determine how to divide the proceeds among each surviving family member. If a wrongful death claim reaches trial, however, a jury will have the responsibility to designate how much each person is entitled to receive.
How a Texas Jury Will Divide Wrongful Death Settlement Proceeds
Juries have generally divided wrongful death settlement proceeds in other cases as follows:
- More compensation is typically allocated to the victim’s surviving spouse.
- Minor children who lost a parent may not be awarded the same amount as a spouse, but it will be substantial.
- Parents who have lost a minor child are commonly awarded a considerable amount.
- Awards are typically limited for middle-aged or elderly persons that have lost an adult child and for adult children who have lost a parent.
Issues such as structured settlements or trust accounts can also impact the distribution of proceeds.
Types of Compensation Available in a Wrongful Death Claim
The family of a deceased loved one can seek compensation for the following:
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship (the harm caused by the end of the relationship)
- Mental anguish.
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses for your loved one’s care after the accident and up until their death
- Property damage caused by the accident
- Lost income due to injuries
- Pain and suffering after an accident up until death.
In some instances that involve a defendant who acted willfully or exhibited gross forms of negligence, the court may award punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the defendant and discourage others from similar negligence. However, they are rarely awarded because there must be proof of intentional or extreme behavior.
We Can Help You Through This Difficult Time
Please contact Milano Legal Group if you have any questions about a wrongful death lawsuit or are considering filing one. Our Houston Wrongful Death Attorney can discuss your situation in a free consultation. Call (713) 489-4270 today.