In order to make an informed decision about whether to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit after the death of your loved one, you need to know what you could possibly recover by pursuing your claim.
Every wrongful death case is unique, and individual damages will be based on many different factors. However, you should be prepared to pursue the maximum possible recovery in your case by understanding what you could recover, how to prove the value of your damages, and how a wrongful death trial lawyer can help you.
Types of Damages Available in Texas Wrongful Death Cases
Some of the different things that you may recover from in a wrongful death settlement or court verdict include:
Your loved one may have incurred medical expenses from the time of his accident until the time of his death. Any costs related to the accident including but not limited to ambulance services, hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, and doctors’ visits may be part of the damages that you seek. Medical costs are typically easily proven with copies of the bills your loved one received.
The recovery for lost income will depend on your loved one’s age and occupation. You may recover for all of the income from self-employment, wages, bonuses, and benefits your loved one has been unable to earn since the date of his accident, and all future income your loved one will be unable to earn.
To calculate future lost income, factors such as your loved one’s past earnings, projected future earnings, and retirement date will be considered. Expert testimony may be needed to support your claim
Funerals and burials can be expensive. If someone else was responsible for your loved one’s death, reasonable funeral and burial costs may be included in your family’s wrongful death recovery. Documentation from the funeral home, clergy, cemetery, cremation facility, and any other service providers will be needed to prove the exact amount of your loved one’s funeral expenses.
Loss to the Family
While you know in your heart what your loved one meant to your family, it can be difficult to convey this —to other people. You should consider things such as:
- The nurturing and caring your loved one provided to specific individuals in your family.
- The role your loved one played—formally or informally—in educating specific individuals in your family.
- The guidance your loved one provided to specific family members.
- Emotional suffering your loved one’s death has caused.
In order to prove these losses, you will need to think of the specific things your loved one did for the family. This may include preparing meals, helping with homework, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, driving children or older relatives to medical appointments and programs, and running errands. Additionally, the emotional suffering and mental anguish that have resulted from the death, and are likely to continue for a long time, should be part of your recovery.
Unlike the damages described above, punitive damages are not meant to compensate your family for the loss of your loved one. Instead, Texas law allows for punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, to punish the defendant. The practical effect of punitive damages, however, will be to add to the value of your family’s recovery while punishing the defendant financially.
Exemplary damages may be awarded in a wrongful death case if you can prove by clear and convincing evidence that your loved one died because of someone else’s fraud, malice, or gross negligence. These damages will are capped by law, however. According to Texas law, you may recover either (a) two times the amount of your economic damages plus an amount equal to your non-economic damages (though this amount may not exceed $750,000) or (b) an amount up to $200,000
How a Wrongful Death Trial Lawyer Can Help You
While you may feel confident about the value of your wrongful death claim, you will need reliable evidence and persuasive arguments to prove the value of your case to the insurance company—or the court. An experienced wrongful death trial lawyer can help you gather that evidence and fight for your legal rights. Are you ready to get started? Contact Larrick Law Firm PC today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your potential recovery in a wrongful death case.