Damages in Houston Wrongful Death Cases

When someone else’s negligence leads to the death of a loved one, it is natural to want to make them pay. Death is expensive, and death because of negligence can be even more expensive than death from natural causes. In addition to funeral expenses, survivors may struggle to pay medical bills and deal with the sudden loss of income. It only fits that the person responsible for those losses pays for them.

Of course, making the wrongdoer pay is not only about securing your financial future. It is also about getting justice. In addition to financial losses, death brings a wide variety of emotional losses as well. Damages for things like loss of companionship cannot bring back a loved one, but they can compensate you for the loss. If you have lost a loved one because of someone else’s action or failure to act, you may be entitled to substantial damages for that loss. A wrongful death attorney can help you understand damages in Houston wrongful death cases.

Understanding Wrongful Death Cases

According to Texas Civil Practice & Remedies § 71.002, any negligence can lead to a wrongful death claim. Some incidents that commonly give rise to these actions include:

Intentional actions can also give rise to wrongful death claims. The civil suit is separate from the criminal proceedings against that party. They do not have to be convicted in the criminal proceedings for a victim to get a judgment in a civil suit—the burden of proof in civil proceedings is lower than in criminal court. Damages in a wrongful death case are often the only form of justice that Houston survivors get after a family member’s death.

Determining Damages in Wrongful Death Claims

When survivors file a wrongful death claim, they will seek a damage amount. For many surviving family members, this is the most challenging part of the wrongful death claim process. How does a person begin to put a dollar value on the life of a loved one? The process is both personal and impersonal, and a Houston lawyer can help navigate you through assessing potential damages in a wrongful death case.

The first component of the damage request is somewhat impersonal. It involves examining the direct and indirect economic losses related to the loss of a loved one. First, survivors gather information about the costs related to the accident, burial, and funeral. Most families remember to include things like medical bills. Still, when determining these costs, they may forget about their lost wages or additional costs—hospital parking, meals at the hospital, flights or other transportation, etc.

Next, survivors should consider lost income. Without the accident, how much longer would the deceased have lived, and how much of that time would they have spent working? What was their career progression, and what type of raises and promotions could they have expected? In addition to direct pay, like income, this amount should include the monetary value of benefits, such as health care, retirement contributions, stock options, etc.

Finally, survivors should look at the financial value of lost services. What services does the family have to pay for or do themselves now that the deceased is gone? Some standard services include the cost of daycare, housekeeping, or a lawn service. If the deceased is handy, family members should not forget things like vehicles or home maintenance.

Non-financial losses can be more difficult to determine, but they are often the most essential part. Survivors miss out on companionship, support, and love. How do you put a dollar amount on dad not being there to walk someone down the aisle or not having mom there to meet a grandbaby? These damages are often highly subjective, with juries trying to determine those dollar amounts.

Talk to an Attorney About Damages in Houston Wrongful Death Cases

The loss of a loved one can be emotionally and financially traumatic. While money cannot heal the emotional trauma, it can help you get what you need—time, therapy, and space to grieve—to work through that pain. It can also help you avoid the stress and anxiety that comes with the loss of an income. If you have lost a loved one, talk to an attorney about your legal remedies. They can explain potential damages in Houston wrongful death cases.

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