This is the next post in a series of articles about handling wrongful death cases in Laredo, Texas. The previous post discussed the ability to hold multiple defendants liable for a wrongful death, particularly in cases involving commercial truck or car accidents. The post also stressed the importance of retaining an experienced defense attorney to represent your interests. This article will focus on another important topic – calculating damages in wrongful death cases. If you or someone you know needs assistance in a wrongful death matter, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
When a loved one is killed in an accident, the surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for damages. You must prove two things must be proven before damages will be awarded: 1) that you are a statutory beneficiary of the deceased (may include spouse, children, and parents) and 2) that the defendant’s wrongful act caused the death. Under Texas law, the “Survival Statute” permits the victim’s heir or the representative of the estate to file a claim for which the deceased would have been able to assert had he or she survived the accident. In a survival claim, the claimant is suing the defendant in place of the victim for the damages to which the victim may have been entitled, such as pain and suffering prior to death. A survivor claim is different from a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is brought by surviving family members, usually a spouse, children or parents, but the damages sought are for the loss of their family member. For example, damages may include the loss of the person’s wages and the value of the support the victim would have provided to the family had they survived. Other damages may be awarded for loss of companionship or mental suffering from the loss. Finally, when a defendant can be proven to have acted willfully or was grossly negligent in causing the death, a plaintiff may also receive punitive damages.
Your attorney may retain expert witnesses in order to ascertain potential damages. Vocational experts may provide information about the earning potential and typical career trajectory based upon the victim’s position and salary at the time of the accident. Economists may give testimony about the lost level of support over the course of an average life expectancy. Other experts, such as doctors, nurses or other first responders may also provide valuable information for the damage calculation.
Given the emotional and financial impact the loss of a loved one can create for your family, it is essential to retain a Laredo wrongful death attorney with the experience needed to seek adequate compensation. My law firm has significant experience representing clients in wrongful death and other personal injury matters. If you need assistance, contact my office to speak to a lawyer today. My office serves much of south Texas.