While financial compensation cannot erase the emotional toll that a wrongful death takes on a family, it can ease some practical complications that arise after such a death. Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conway, P.C., has extensive experience with wrongful death claims and can help your family get the compensation you deserve. Call us today: (800) 433-2408
The death of a loved one is always a painful and traumatic event. If your family member dies in a wrongful death, the pain amplifies significantly.
Not only is a wrongful death a shock, but it is also a painful reality that the loss was preventable.
Aside from the pain and suffering caused by such a loss, losing a loved one’s income can dramatically disrupt a family’s financial situation.
Families who lose someone in a death caused by negligence deserve and are legally entitled to compensation for their loss.
Wrongful Death in Texas
At Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conway, P.C., we understand how difficult it is to lose a family member to a wrongful death. Our mission is to help families move forward after such a tragedy compassionately and professionally.
Our wrongful death practice works with families every day to do just that. With a focus on this area of law since 1984, our attorneys are well-versed in the ins and outs of wrongful death damages in Texas. Drawing on this well of experience, we will work tirelessly to ensure that your family is financially cared for.
Knowing that your financial situation is sound, you and your family can focus on what is most important—healing.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Texas recognizes the severity of the disruption a wrongful death causes, as reflected by the types of claimable damages available. Texas law separates damages in wrongful death claims into three main categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages are those that are tangible and have a precise dollar value.
In a claim for wrongful death, economic damages may include:
- Funeral expenses,
- Loss of future earnings,
- Costs of medical treatment for the deceased,
- Loss of retirement benefits, and
- Loss of inheritance.
Each type of economic damage is readily identifiable and calculable. For example, loss of future earnings could be calculated by multiplying a deceased individual’s salary by the number of years they would have worked if they had lived.
Non-economic damages represent a much broader category of different costs than economic damages. They are subjective and do not have a readily identifiable dollar value. As a result, non-economic damages are often a contentious area of negotiation in civil claims.
Non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering of the deceased before death;
- Emotional and mental anguish of loved ones;
- Loss of companionship, care, and guidance; and
- Loss of consortium.
Looking at this list, one can see how non-economic damages can make for hotly contested areas of debate in wrongful death claims. Non-economic damages are undeniable but can be difficult to measure.
However, an experienced wrongful death attorney will know how to measure and frame non-economic losses, which can form an integral part of your claim.
In a minority of cases, Texas law also provides for “exemplary damages.” Exemplary damages are also referred to as punitive damages and are not meant to compensate a party. Instead, they are awarded to plaintiffs to penalize at-fault parties for flaunting safety rules, regulations, and norms in a particularly egregious manner. They are also intended to dissuade future parties from acting similarly.
See What We’ve Been Able To Do For Others
Electrocution | Wrongful Death
Attorney’s fees: $2,200,000
Litigation Expenses: $190,286.29
Net Amount: $3,109,713.71
Read More About the Case
Truck Accident | Wrongful Death
Attorney’s fees: $1,600,000
Litigation expenses: $63,667.29
Net Amount: $2,336,332.71
Premises Liability | Wrongful Death Premises Liability
Attorney’s fees: $1,500,000
Litigation expenses: $113,137.70
Net Amount: $2,136,862.30
Proving negligence is an essential element of most wrongful death claims.
Generally, four things must be present to prove someone’s negligence:
- A duty of care;
- A breach of that duty;
- Damage; and
- A causal link between the damage and the breach of the duty of care.
Consider a wrongful death claim over a car accident where someone was killed by a drunk driver. While driving a car, one owes a duty of care to everyone else on the road to follow traffic rules and drive safely. Driving while under the influence of alcohol is a breach of this duty.
Thus, if drunk driving causes a crash that kills someone, the drunk driver is responsible for all damages caused by the death.
Common Wrongful Death Cases in Texas
Behind heart disease and cancer, unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in the United States. A wide variety of things can cause wrongful deaths.
Some of the leading unintentional causes of death each year include but are not limited to:
- Workplace accidents,
- Oil field explosions,
- Falling objects,
- Slip and falls,
- Motor vehicle crashes, and
- Medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is an often-overlooked cause of wrongful death that can be difficult to prove. As a result, medical malpractice deaths often end up undercounted.
While not the most common cause of fatal injury, oilfield wrongful deaths are also an unfortunate reality in Texas. On January 29th, 2020, a drilling rig explosion in Burleson County claimed three workers’ lives. The family members of two of the victims have since filed wrongful death lawsuits, each worth more than $1 million. Both lawsuits allege a failure to maintain safe working conditions and provide adequate medical care by the site operators.
While there is no information currently available regarding settlement of the lawsuits, federal authorities’ six-month investigation resulted in fines of nearly $400,000. The size of the penalties indicates that there was, in fact, a failure to properly maintain safe working conditions, which bodes well for the Texas wrongful death claims filed by surviving family members.
While we are not working on these specific cases, Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C., has successfully litigated oilfield wrongful death cases worth upwards of $7 million dollars.
Finding the Right Lawyer
At Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C., we have the experience with wrongful death claims necessary to help you get back on your feet financially after tragically losing a family member.
We’re not just here to help you negotiate. Our firm’s goal is to help you and your family every step of the way and leave no stone unturned in the process.
We will help you gather evidence, examine the death site, interview witnesses, find the right experts to help analyze the incident, and reconstruct the accident. With our thorough process, you can be confident you will get the full compensation you deserve.
FAQs About Texas Wrongful Death Damages
Here, the Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. legal team answers your questions about Texas wrongful death damages. Please keep in mind that this is general information. For guidance on your specific situation, call our office to schedule a free consultation.
How Are Wrongful Death Proceeds Divided in Texas?
In many cases, Texas law indicates that the jury award for a wrongful death case is distributed among those entitled to recover compensation—the deceased’s spouse, children, and parents. Under Texas law, the jury typically determines how the shares are divided among the Texas wrongful death beneficiaries.
If the wrongful death proceeds are received via settlement, the parties will negotiate and agree upon an amount and share each party gets.
Who Is Entitled to Wrongful Death Benefits in Texas?
Under the Texas Wrongful Death Act, the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased are the only individuals that can bring a wrongful death claim. However, if they do not do so within three months of the person’s death, the deceased person’s estate may bring a claim on their behalf.
Additionally, a deceased person’s heirs, legal representative, or estate can bring a survival lawsuit against an at-fault party for causing the decedent’s death. Heirs can include those entitled to receive an inheritance based on the decedent’s will or, if they don’t have a will, the default Texas laws of intestate succession.
Unlike a wrongful death claim, which compensates loved ones for the losses they have personally suffered as the result of the wrongful death, a survival claim provides compensation for the losses personally suffered by the deceased between the time of their injury and the time of their death.
What Are the Texas Wrongful Death Damages Cap Laws?
Texas law imposes damage caps in certain situations. For example, in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the claimant cannot receive greater than $250,000 per claimant in noneconomic damages.
In personal injury and wrongful death cases, the law limits the amount of exemplary (punitive) damages that claimants receive to the greater of either $250,000 or two times the amount of economic damages, plus the jury’s calculation of noneconomic damages under $750,000. This limit does not apply to cases where the at-fault party committed a felony or caused the decedent’s death because of the manufacture of methamphetamine.
Because of the limits placed on the Texas wrongful death and survival damages available to beneficiaries, it’s especially important to have an experienced attorney advocating for your interests.