Financial Damages for Wrongful Death
Most claims for money damages for wrongful death are never actually heard by a court or tried by a jury; normally an out-of-court settlement is made between the survivors and the parties responsible for the person who caused the death such as an insurance company. However, the damages normally obtained through a trial for wrongful death are the same damages sought in an out-of-court settlement, so what courts award and how they determine the amount of money that is appropriate for wrongful death trial is relevant and considered in a wrongful death claim.
How Courts Determine Compensation
Courts must determine the proper compensation for the financial loss that the death has caused. While in some cases the death of a loved one may result in criminal charges being made against the person causing the death of another, money damages are the only remedy that civil courts can impose. When a civil court (as opposed to a criminal court) measures loss, the first thing most of them turn to is financial data such as;
- The amount of money earned by the deceased person;
- The amount of money likely to have been earned by the person in the future;
- The amount of money spent versus the amount of money saved; and
- The level of financial resources spent by the deceased on the survivors;
The court will also take into consideration funeral expenses and medical expenses.
A wrongful death claim or lawsuit normally seeks to compensate surviving family members; it does not normally seek to punish the responsible party unless something more than negligence is present, such as recklessness or intentional conduct.
Aspects in Determining Economic Loss
Courts look at a number of factors in determining the amount of financial loss the surviving family members should recover in a wrongful death lawsuit. Most of the considerations take into account characteristics of the person who has passed away such as current and future earnings potential, educational background, health and life expectancy and assets. These are taken into consideration when determining the loss of financial contributions made by the deceased to the surviving family members.
Compensation for contributions of other activities can also be considered such as child care and housekeeping services rendered, as well as assistance with family member’s medical or daily living needs
Attorneys for the claimants often use expert testimony to establish these amounts.
Factors in Determining Emotional Loss
Other aspects of what the deceased contributed to the surviving family member are also determined by the court such as parental guidance, companionship and affection.
In making these kinds of assessments, courts look to evidence of the strength of the relationship between the claimants and the deceased.
Statute of Limitations in Texas for Wrongful Death
Each state has a statute of limitations about how long a claimant or plaintiff has to file a wrongful death claim. After that time has elapsed, it is too late to take legal action. It is therefore important to speak with an attorney about your rights and options soon.
In Texas, a cause of action for wrongful death generally begins on the date of death and a lawsuit must generally be filed within two years of that date. Some exceptions may apply so it is best to speak with an attorney who focuses their practice on personal injury and wrongful death claims.
Contact a wrongful death and personal injury attorney at The Law Offices of Adrian Crane, P.C.
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At The Law Offices of Adrian Crane, P.C., I focus my legal work on helping protect victims of injury accidents. If you would like to speak to me to ask any of your questions for free and for no obligation, please contact me by calling or by completing the case evaluation form found on this website. I look forward to helping you in any way I can.