If you have experienced the loss of a loved one due to the negligence or recklessness of someone else, you may be entitled to compensation for wrongful death. The amount you are eligible to receive will depend on a number of factors. There is no real way to determine the average wrongful death settlement because the circumstances of death are unique to each case. However, a personal injury lawyer can help you estimate the value of your claim.
What Is Wrongful Death?
A claim for wrongful death compensates the close family members of a deceased person for losses they experience as a result of their loved one’s death. To have a valid cause of action, the action or inaction that resulted in death must have been intentional or negligent. The action must have been the cause of or a contributing factor to the death of your loved one.
Potential Compensation for Wrongful Death Cases
Compensation for wrongful death takes into consideration the impact of death on survivors. Damages can be both economic and noneconomic. Exemplary damages (also known as punitive damages) may also be available in egregious cases.
Economic damages are those that can be proven objectively using bills and invoices. Costs covered may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses;
- Loss of decedent’s expected earning capacity;
- Loss of benefits such as medical insurance coverage or pension plans;
- Loss of inheritance; and
- Value of any goods or services that would have been provided.
Most estimated wages and benefits are calculated through the decedent’s intended retirement age.
Damages that don’t come with a written cost are harder to prove but still just as valid. Non-economic damages attempt to place a value on the mental and emotional components of wrongful death. Non-economic damages may include:
- Mental anguish;
- Post-traumatic stress;
- Loss of the care, protection, and guidance from the deceased;
- Loss of household services of the deceased;
- Loss of love and companionship; and
- Loss of consortium.
Non-economic damages may require witnesses and expert testimony to prove that the damage occurred.
Egregious behavior may be costly. An additional payout in the form of exemplary damages may be required to punish a defendant. These damages are most likely in cases where the defendant is a big corporation that would be undeterred by a small payout. But they could be available any time intentional conduct or gross negligence is involved, such as in the case of an accident caused by a drunk driver with repeat offenses.
Examples of Average Wrongful Death Settlements
Wrongful death claims can come in all shapes and sizes. Who you are bringing the claim against will also impact average wrongful death settlement amounts.
- A Texas court awarded a $9,360,000.00 verdict in 2019 against the City of Austin doing business as Austin Energy. The company was found negligent in operating and maintaining high voltage power lines that ran dangerously close to the side of a nightclub. This negligence resulted in the electrocution that killed Jaime Membreno.
- In 2019, Greyhound Bus was ordered to pay $20,000,000 for the wrongful death of a 25-year-old Texas resident who was hit while trying to get the driver’s attention to board the bus. The driver erred when he left the bus stop prior to the scheduled time and did not conduct a headcount.
- A $4,500,000 wrongful death settlement was negotiated with Bexar County, Texas, in a lawsuit involving the fatal 2017 shooting of a 6-year-old caught in police crossfire. The person the police were seeking entered the home of the boy’s family without invitation. Officers thought she was armed and opened fire.
Factors That Impact Your Wrongful Death Settlement
The amount of compensation you receive for your wrongful death lawsuit will depend heavily on the circumstances of the case including:
- How the death occurred:
- Who was responsible:
- The degree of responsibility for the death;
- Other factors contributing to death;
- The age of the deceased;
- Salary and earning potential of the deceased; and
- Financial dependence of family members.
If the death of your loved one was caused by the negligent or wrongful actions of an individual, your settlement may be different than if it had been caused by a large corporation.
Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney
The experienced team at The Zimmerman Law Firm has been fighting for the rights of central Texans since 1962. We understand how difficult it is to handle legal matters when you are grieving. Every case is important to us, and our team is dedicated to providing each client with individual attention and compassionate representation.
Do not settle for less than what you deserve for your wrongful death lawsuit. You have already been through enough. We’re here to help, and we don’t recover unless you do. Contact The Zimmerman Law Firm for your free case evaluation.