In Texas, the law recognizes the tremendous emotional and financial toll of a loved one’s wrongful death. Certain surviving family members may be able to seek compensation for their losses, also known as damages, by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
To recover wrongful death damages from the negligent party, you must successfully show the elements of negligence required by Texas law. According to Texas’ wrongful death statute, a jury may award the deceased’s family damages in an amount proportionate to the injury resulting from the death. These damages are to be divided among the surviving individuals who are entitled to recover compensation. Retaining a Dallas wrongful death lawyer from Wolf Law, PLLC can help you navigate the complexities of wrongful death claims and potential damages, which can be challenging, especially in your family’s time of grief.
Types of Wrongful Death Damages in Texas
Three primary types of damages that can be collected in Texas wrongful death cases, which include:
- Economic Damages;
- Non-Economic Damages and;
- Exemplary Damages.
Economic damages are compensatory and include your family’s actual financial losses. It is typically easy to calculate the value of these losses. These damages commonly include the following:
- Medical expenses for the deceased’s treatment and care
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of financial support or earning capacity, such as the deceased’s income, benefits, or inheritance
- Loss of household services provided by the deceased, such as childcare and housekeeping
Non-economic damages are the intangible losses your family is facing after your loved one’s death. While more difficult to quantify, these damages are equally significant. Non-economic damages in wrongful death claims typically include the following:
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased after their accident and prior to their death
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and emotional support experienced by the survivors of the deceased
- Mental anguish and emotional distress suffered by the deceased’s family members
- Loss of consortium, meaning loss of the deceased’s love, companionship, or intimacy
Exemplary damages are commonly known as punitive damages. In Texas, exemplary damages can be awarded if your loved one’s death resulted from fraud, malice, or gross neglect on the part of the negligent party. These damages are awarded as a penalty to deter similar misconduct in the future rather than for compensatory purposes.
Exemplary damages can only be awarded if damages other than nominal damages are awarded, which are those awarded if the actual amount of losses cannot be determined or if there are no actual damages. Further, a jury’s determination of the amount of exemplary damages awarded must be unanimous.
Only the decedent’s surviving spouse or heirs can recover these damages, as their parents may only recover actual economic and non-economic damages.
Limits on Texas Wrongful Death Damages
Among those entitled to file a wrongful death claim for damages are the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, parents, and personal representatives of their estate.
There is no limit on economic damages in Texas wrongful death claims.
The state’s limit on non-economic damages recoverable in wrongful death actions against physicians and other healthcare providers ranges from $250,000 to $750,000 per claimant, depending on the status of the liable party and how many parties are sued. Exemplary damages in a case other than a wrongful death claim are limited to the greater of $200,000 or twice the amount of economic damages awarded, plus the jury’s calculation of non-economic damages under $750,000.
Factors Influencing a Texas Wrongful Death Damages Calculation
Various factors can influence the amount of damages awarded in Texas wrongful death claims. No two wrongful death cases are the same. Factors that play a role in the calculation of wrongful death damages include the following:
Age and Life Expectancy of the Deceased
The age and life expectancy of your deceased loved one are important to consider when calculating damages. These factors are especially relevant when considering economic damages, such as loss of future income. Cases involving younger individuals with longer life expectancies will likely result in higher damages compared to older victims.
Income and Financial Contributions of the Deceased
The decedent’s income, earning capacity, and financial contributions to their family are significant factors in determining economic damages. These considerations include the deceased’s wages, benefits, and retirement savings. Essentially, all financial resources that would have been available to their surviving family members if their death had not occurred are considered.
Family Relationship and Dependency
The nature of the relationship between the deceased and their surviving family members can influence the calculation of damages. The level of dependency on the decedent’s support and services is also considered. Spouses, children, and other dependents may be entitled to different types and amounts of damages based on their relationship to the deceased.
Circumstances Surrounding the Wrongful Death
The specific circumstances surrounding a loved one’s wrongful death can impact the amount of damages awarded in wrongful death claims. The degree of negligence or wrongful conduct involved plays a considerable role in the damages awarded. Cases involving intentional misconduct or egregious negligence may warrant higher damages, including exemplary damages, to deter similar conduct in the future.
Wolf Law, PLLC Will Fight for Damages in Your Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit
While wrongful death damages cannot remove the pain of losing your loved one, they can help ease some of the financial burdens you are facing after your loved one’s untimely loss. At Wolf Law, PLLC, our personal injury team can help build a wrongful death case and attempt to recover maximum compensation on your family’s behalf.
If you have been clouded with grief and confusion after your devastating loss, reach out to our Dallas wrongful death lawyers to schedule a free consultation to discuss how we can help your family get the results it deserves.