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How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out in Texas?

  1. How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out in Texas?
  2. What Is a Wrongful Death Settlement?
  3. Who Can File a Wrongful Death Settlement?
  4. How Much Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Worth?
  5. Is Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer Worth It?
  6. Contact Will Adams Law Firm to Learn More

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out in Texas?

Losing a loved one due to the careless and reckless actions of a negligent party is a tragedy that cannot be undone. But you can achieve accountability and closure on their behalf by filing a wrongful death claim and being compensated for your loss.

In this blog post, we’re going to discuss how wrongful death settlements are paid out and who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim.

What Is a Wrongful Death Settlement?

Wrongful death claims demand accountability and financial compensation after someone else’s mistake kills a loved one. While the at-fault party might also face criminal charges for their actions, a criminal case will not provide financial support for those left behind. Common incidents that lead to wrongful deaths include car accidents, truck wrecks, motorcycle crashes, premises liability cases, and product defects.

A success wrongful death claim will result in either a jury award or a settlement. When you settle your case, you give up your right to file a lawsuit in exchange for a lump-sum payment. Once you finalize your settlement, you typically cannot go back and demand more compensation.  Insurance companies frequently try to take advantage of unrepresented families—offering them too little money for their losses. If you’re not sure whether the insurance company’s offer is fair, you should always schedule a free consultation with an experienced wrongful death lawyer before continuing your negotiations.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Settlement?

In Texas, only the deceased person’s spouse, parents, and children (including adoptive parents and children) can file a wrongful death suit. If you have minor children, you can file wrongful death claims on their behalf. For example, suppose your former spouse dies in a car accident. While you cannot file a wrongful death claim yourself, you can sue the at-fault party as your children’s guardian.

Many people cannot file a wrongful death claim in Texas. This includes long-term unmarried partners, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and stepchildren who were not adopted. Similarly, adopted children cannot file a wrongful death suit after their biological parent’s death—and biological parents cannot demand compensation if a court terminated their parental rights.

Family members can also request that a wrongful death suit not be filed. However, if you do not make this request or file a wrongful death claim within three months of your loved one’s passing, the representative of the decedent’s estate can file their own claim.

RELATED: What Families Should Know About Texas’ Wrongful Death Statute

“Will treats his clients with great kindness and compassion. He fully understands the pain and injustice each victim is going through. This compassion and understanding allows Will to prosecute your case to the fullest. Will is tenacious in pursuing what he feels is the correct settlement for his clients.”

- B & ES – Dallas, TX

“Will, Chris & Sarah. K and I just want to thank you so much for everything you’ve done for us and our family. Throughout this process you have kept us informed and been patient with us (especially me) as we navigated through unchartered territory. Putting things in your hands allowed Karl and I to focus on him getting better.”

- SC – Katy, TX

“Hi Will, I just wanted to take a minute and let you and your wonderful staff know just how much we appreciate each one of you! All of you have been so great to us. Y’all have always answered any and all questions immediately and never left us hanging or wondering about anything. All of you have made this.”

- SB – Katy, TX

"Dear Sarah, you are the best legal assistant in the history of such creatures of legend and lore. (And Brian is in the tribe too) Do take a copy of this email to your next annual performance review... you have raised the bar. Thank you for all your help!"

- AM – Houston, TX

"I wanted to thank you both for a job well done and for an outcome that far exceeded my expectations. I appreciated your expertise and your thoroughness of preparation, as well as keeping me informed of the possible outcomes at each major point.Will, I think that Chris did an excellent job and wanted to bring that to your attention."

- MJ – Katy, TX

How Much Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Worth?

No two wrongful death claims are the same. Before you and other surviving family members settle a wrongful death lawsuit, you should calculate your claims’ value and assess your insurance coverage. Otherwise, you might receive much less than the full value of your claims.

Depending on your situation, you might have two types of claims:

  • Wrongful death claim: Filed on behalf of surviving family members, this claim compensates you for your losses, including lost financial support and inheritance, the cost of counseling, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, grief, and mental anguish.
  • Survival claim: Filed on behalf of the person who died, this claim compensates their estate for losses they suffered before passing away, including pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost income.

You will need to document these losses by providing medical bills, doctors’ notes, estimates from economists and life planners, and other evidence.

In some cases, the individual or estate filing the lawsuit can demand exemplary or punitive damages. These damages are in addition to more traditional economic and non-economic damages, and are supposed to punish the at-fault party for their actions. Exemplary damages are relatively rare in Texas, and you will need to show that the other party acted intentionally or with extreme recklessness.

If you want to understand the value of your family’s wrongful death claim, schedule a no-risk consultation. We can help you identify the insurance policies and factors that will affect your case’s settlement value.

What Is a Structured Settlement?

When you agree to a structured settlement, you will receive payments over time (instead on in a lump sum). Typically, the insurance company buys you an annuity to cover these payments.

Structured settlements and lump sum payments both have pros and cons. With a structured settlement, you’re guaranteed compensation over a long period of time (which could be viewed as a pro or a con). This provides consistent support for long-term needs and can help you budget wisely. However, you might not be able to cover all your pending debts at once, which could lead to severe financial hardship.

If you’re not sure whether a structured settlement is in your best interest, schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We’ll assess your case and give you honest advice.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxed?

Structured settlements are non-taxable, but lump sum payments for wrongful death settlements are a little more complicated. The IRS does not tax the settlement itself, but there are segments of the settlement that could be taxed, including:

  • Punitive damages
  • Emotional distress not directly related to the manner of death
  • Medical bills deducted from your income in previous years

This can get complex pretty quickly. However, the taxes could potentially be minimized and the settlement itself increased by enlisting the help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.

Is Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer Worth It?

If you’re worried about the cost of hiring a skilled wrongful death attorney, you can relax. We offer free consultations, and if you choose to work with Will Adams Law Firm, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing up front. If we negotiate a settlement on your behalf, you will pay us a percentage of that amount. If the case is either dismissed or we do not recover a settlement, there is no fee.

Contact Will Adams Law Firm to Learn More

If you’ve lost a loved one due to a negligent party’s careless or reckless action, you should contact an attorney to represent you and file a wrongful death lawsuit. A skilled attorney will provide thorough and empathetic representation throughout the process while pursuing the best possible outcome on your behalf.

The Will Adams Law Firm has extensive experience handling complex and emotional wrongful death claims and will leverage accident reconstruction, expert witnesses, legal precedent, and compelling eyewitness testimony to secure just compensation for you and your family. Please contact us today by calling (281) 371-6345 or completing this brief form to schedule a free consultation and begin the path to healing.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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