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, it is 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.
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.
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, also referred to as punitive damages, are not meant to compensate a party. Instead, they are awarded to plaintiffs to penalize parties for flaunting laws in a particularly egregious manner. They are also intended to dissuade future parties from acting similarly.
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 causes are more common than others, however. Some of the leading unintentional causes of death each year are:
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 $5 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. Time is of the essence, so contact our team today to help you work through this difficult time. Don’t just take our word for it. Browse our testimonials page to see what other clients have to say about us, and check out our case results page to learn what we have been able to do for others.