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Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuits: What Damages Can I Recover

Undefeated Texas Wrongful Death Lawyers

Losing a loved one to an oilfield accident, plant or refinery explosion, workplace accident, or truck or 18-wheeler accident is devastating for a family from both an emotional and financial perspective.

But while no amount of money will ever make up for that loss, filing a wrongful death lawsuit and a survival claim are often the only way those left behind can hold the responsible parties accountable and secure the financial resources needed to care for themselves and their families in their loved one’s absence.

Understanding Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Survival Claims

Under Texas Law, a wrongful death occurs when:

  • An injury  directly causes a person’s death or a fetus’s failure to be born alive;
  • The injury is the result of another person’s or entity’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default,” and;
  • The injured person would have been entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit had they lived or been born alive.

A Texas wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by the spouse, children, and parents of the decedent. If they weren’t married or had no children or living parents, the executor or administrator of their estate can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate. 

Texas also allows an executor, administrator, or legal representative to pursue a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a wrongful death victim. Known as a survival claim, this type of action is intended to recover damages for the pain and suffering the decedent endured before their death. A survival claim must be filed by the estate’s legal representative and must establish that:

  • The deceased had a cause of action for personal injury.
  • The deceased would have been able to bring a personal injury lawsuit had they survived.
  • The defendant’s negligent actions caused the victim’s injury

A Texas wrongful death lawsuit and a survival claim can be pursued simultaneously. Both are subject to a two-year statute of limitations; however, while the clock starts ticking on a wrongful death lawsuit from the date of the victim’s death, the clock on a survival claim begins to run out on the day they were injured or the date the injury was discovered.

Damages in a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Texas wrongful death damages are intended to compensate surviving family members for the emotional suffering and financial losses incurred as a result of their loved one’s death.

Past and Future Mental Anguish

Texas law recognizes that a loved one’s wrongful death is among the most distressing events an individual can experience in their lifetime. As such, the law allows surviving family members to pursue compensation for their past and future mental anguish that results from such a devastating loss.

Past and Future Loss of Consortium, Companionship and Society

These damages are intended to compensate family members for the loss of the relationship they enjoyed with the decedent. Under Texas law, such damages fall into one of three categories:

  • Loss of Spousal Consortium:  These damages compensate a surviving spouse for the past and future loss of the emotional and intangible elements enjoyed in a marriage, including affection, solace, comfort, companionship, society, assistance, and sexual relations.
  • Loss of Parental Consortium: These damages compensate the decedent’s children for the past and future loss of parental love, affection, protection, emotional support, services, companionship, care, and society.
  • Loss of Filial Consortium: Parents can pursue compensation for the loss of past and future companionship, society, affection, and love stemming from the wrongful death of their child.

Pecuniary Loss

Texas law also allows survivors to seek compensation for their pecuniary losses – the deceased’s financial contributions to the family. These damages can include actual money as well as anything the deceased provided that can be valued monetarily, such as:

  • Loss of Past and Future Inc
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses
  • Cost of Survivor’s Therapy
  • Loss of Past and Future Care, Maintenance, Support, Advice and Services Provided by the Deceased

Loss of Inheritance

The Texas Wrongful Death Act  also allows survivors to pursue compensation for the “present value that the decedent would, in reasonable probability, have added to the estate and left at natural death to the statutory wrongful death beneficiaries but for the wrongful act causing the premature death.” Recovering for loss of inheritance is fairly complex, as it requires plaintiffs to provide proof of the decedent’s total income and expenditures over their expected lifetime and demonstrate that they would probably have been the beneficiary of the decedent’s estate. 

Punitive Damages

Survivors may be able to recover exemplary damages (aka punitive damages) if they can prove that their loved one’s wrongful death was the direct result of gross negligence or a willful or intentional act. Exemplary damages are intended to punish the defendant and serve as a deterrent to others, thus preventing them from engaging in similar wrongful conduct.

Compensation recovered in a Texas wrongful death lawsuit is divided among the plaintiffs, either at the direction of the judge or jury when a case has gone to trial or following negotiations among the plaintiffs when a case settles out of court. However, because Texas does not allow the proceeds of a wrongful death lawsuit to be passed on to minors, a trust will have to be established to manage any funds awarded to young children until they reach maturity.

Damages in a Texas Survival Claim

Damages in a Texas survival claim can include anything the decedent could have been awarded in a personal injury lawsuit had their injury not resulted in death, such as:

  • Medical expenses incurred by the deceased prior to death.
  • Lost wages incurred while the deceased was receiving medical care for their injury.
  • Pain and suffering the deceased endured prior to death.

When a survival claim is successful, the proceeds will be given to the decedent’s estate for distribution among their heirs.

Contact our Undefeated Texas Wrongful Death Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 

Having won Billions for accident and wrongful death victims in Texas and across the United States, our Houston Wrongful Death Lawyers have the resources and experience to hold responsible parties accountable and ensure our clients and their families receive the maximum compensation possible.

Call 1-888-603-3636 or Click Here to submit a confidential email through our “Contact Us” form. 

We’ll answer your questions, explain your rights, and ensure you have the information you need to make the best decision for yourself and your family. 

The consultation is free, and you’ll owe absolutely nothing unless we win your case.