After losing a loved one due to an unexpected accident, it may be difficult to know where to turn. While researching your options, you may want to know the average wrongful death settlement amounts in Texas.
While these estimates may give you a sense of how a settlement may be calculated, they do not provide an accurate valuation of your claim.
Here are a few things you need to know about wrongful death settlements in Texas and how our personal injury attorneys can help support you.
Who Can File for Wrongful Death in Texas?
To file a wrongful death claim in Texas, there are a few requirements that the claimant must meet.
First, they or their lawyer must show that the victim died due to the wrongful actions of another person or party. Second, they must prove that the person or party’s negligence makes them liable for the death. In other words, the claimant must establish that:
- The defendant had a duty of care,
- The defendant breached that duty,
- The defendant’s breach caused the death of the victim, and
- The claimant has damages due to the victim’s death.
However, there are only certain people who may bring a wrongful death claim in Texas. According to CPRC § 71.004 (Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code), the spouse, parents, and children of the decedent may file a claim in most situations.
This includes legally adopted children or adoptive parents of the deceased. These family members have three months to file a wrongful death claim. If they don’t file within that time, the executor of the deceased’s estate may file instead.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Texas
Under CPRC § 16.003, claimants have two years from the date of the victim’s death to file a wrongful death claim.
It’s very important to file your claim in a timely manner to ensure that you stay within the statute of limitations. If you try to bring a lawsuit after this time limit expires, the court will most likely refuse to hear the case.
What Is the Average Settlement for Wrongful Death?
Despite the estimates you may see online, there isn’t a definitive average wrongful death settlement in Texas. Since many firms and claimants make their settlements confidential, there isn’t a way to determine a true average payout for wrongful death.
However, wrongful death settlements do tend to be larger than those in standard personal injury cases. This is due to the substantial economic losses often sustained when you lose a family member versus a family member recovering from an injury.
Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Calculator Give an Accurate Estimate?
During your research, you may find calculators online that claim to accurately estimate wrongful death settlement amounts in Texas and other states. Unfortunately, even if these calculators had access to confidential settlements, they still wouldn’t provide a good estimate.
Online calculators use a one-size-fits-all approach to determine the value of a claim. This means that they don’t perform the detailed analysis of losses that our wrongful death attorneys are able to offer our clients.
What Factors Affect a Typical Wrongful Death Settlement?
There are several factors that affect the average wrongful death settlement. Most of these factors fall into one of three damage categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. The first two damage types apply in most wrongful death claims, while punitive damages are much rarer.
Economic damagesare the tangible losses incurred by the claimant due to the victim’s death.
This usually includes things like medical costs before death, funeral costs, loss of the victim’s earnings, loss of medical coverage, and loss of inheritance. Ultimately, the amount of economic damages depends on the victim’s age, education, career status, and household role.
Non-economic damages are the subjective, intangible losses sustained by the claimant. These losses vary greatly from case to case and aren’t possible to determine using a settlement calculator.
Unlike economic damages, these losses have no standard value due to their individualized nature, including but not limited to:
- Loss of companionship;
- Loss of consortium for the victim’s spouse;
- Loss of care, protection, and guidance;
- Mental anguish, and
- Pain and suffering.
Since non-economic damages greatly affect the average settlement for wrongful death, it’s important to seek the assistance of a skilled wrongful death attorney as you begin to pursue your claim.
Although rare in most cases, it’s possible for the court to award punitive damages in certain circumstances.
These damages aren’t meant to compensate the claimant for damages but rather punish the defendant for especially negligent or intentional behavior. Texas is one of the few states that allows punitive damages in a wrongful death case.
What Is the Average Time for a Wrongful Death Settlement?
A wrongful death claim may take anywhere from a few months to several years to reach a settlement. There are a couple of reasons why it may take a while to settle the case. The first is that the defendant or their insurance company may have a hard time coming to an agreement with your attorney.
Negotiations take a long time, especially if the claim has a high value. In some cases, it may not be possible to agree on a settlement amount, which might send the case to trial.
The second reason why it may take a while to reach a settlement is if the defendant denies their liability.
When this happens, the claimant’s attorney must conduct a thorough investigation to find evidence that proves the defendant’s negligence. This often means scouring medical records, police reports, photographs, videos, and witness testimonies related to the case.
Contact Our Texas Wrongful Death Attorneys Today
At FCHC, we understand how devastating the sudden loss of a loved one is for families. No wrongful death settlement amounts in Texas may be enough to replace them, but our attorneys want to help you get the closure you and your family deserve.
To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or give us a call at 800-433-2408. We serve families throughout the state of Texas from our offices in Lubbock and Odessa.