Have you lost a loved one in a car accident due to reckless or negligent actions of another driver, a business, or other entity? Working with a Houston attorney for a wrongful death claim after a fatal car accident can help you to recover compensation for your loss. Whether the accident is due to a defective product or reckless driving, our Houston wrongful death lawyer Beverly R. Caruthers is here for you. She has more than 30 years of experience helping accident victims and their families file a claim to protect them. If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, contact our law firm for a free consultation today.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a type of legal claim that arises when someone dies due to the careless (negligent), reckless, or intentional act of another.
Wrongful death is a civil legal claim. So if someone is liable for wrongful death, they’re not facing criminal penalties. Instead, a finding of liability leads to an order to pay damages in the form of money. In some situations, a person can face both criminal prosecution and a civil lawsuit for wrongful death based on the same incident, but that’s a rare occurrence in the context of a car accident.
To bring a successful wrongful death claim, a plaintiff must usually prove:
- the existence of a duty of care; for example, all drivers have a duty not to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
- the defendant (the person being sued for wrongful death) breached this duty; continuing with our drinking and driving example, the plaintiff in that kind of wrongful death lawsuit would likely have to prove that the defendant was driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit; and
- the breached duty caused the death of someone else; in our hypothetical DUI accident lawsuit, the plaintiff must show that if it weren’t for the fact that the defendant was driving drunk, the fatal car accident wouldn’t have happened.
Is There an Average Payout for Car Accident Deaths?
There is no readily available data when it comes to the average payout amount for wrongful death cases stemming from car accidents. Even if this information were available, it wouldn’t be that helpful, since every case is unique. It might be more beneficial to focus on the key factors that typically carry the most weight when it comes to the value of a wrongful death claim, including:
- Age of the decedent. If the decedent is a young child, it might make intuitive sense for a wrongful death claim to be “worth” more. But this isn’t usually the reality in the objective eyes of the law, because the accident doesn’t have as big of an effect as economic factors like lost earnings and lost household services.
- What the decedent did for a living. The more money the deceased person earned, the more the wrongful death claim is usually worth.
- The size of the decedent’s surviving family. If the decedent only had a spouse that could sue for wrongful death, the value of the case would likely be far less than it might if the decedent also had four young children.
- The decedent’s share of fault. In certain states, the decedent’s share of fault in the underlying car accident can have a big effect on how much money is recoverable by a wrongful death plaintiff.
- Amount of economic damages incurred because of the accident. This can include things like medical bills and funeral expenses.
- The details of applicable laws. State laws outline how wrongful death actions work, recoverable damages in a wrongful death case, and special limits or caps on the amount of money recoverable for wrongful death.
- Insurance policy limits. It won’t usually be the defendant that pays any wrongful death settlement or court-order judgment. Instead, it’ll be the defendant’s insurance company. But how much insurance coverage the defendant has will sometimes dictate how much money the plaintiff receives.
Another reason wrongful death compensation figures are elusive is that most cases settle before trial, usually with the settlement amount remaining confidential. In some situations, a “slam dunk” case is more likely to settle because the defendant knows they’ll probably lose. And they might get away with paying a slightly lower amount by settling early as opposed to taking their chances at trial.
But on the other side of things, a weak case might be more likely to settle because the plaintiff understands the long shot nature of the claim and is willing to accept a lower settlement amount to guarantee some sort of recovery.
Are you looking for a Houston Attorney for a Wrongful Death Claim After a Fatal Car Accident? Our team is here for you. Schedule an appointment with us to go over the details of your case and figure out what your options are moving forward.
Spanish Speaking Car Accident Lawyer in Houston, Texas
Spanish-speaking individuals can have a more difficult time seeking justice in their personal injury cases due to language barriers. This causes them to not take action against those who have left them with financial devastation and physical trauma. At the Law Office of Beverly R. Caruthers, our team refuses to let a language barrier affect your right to justice and compensation. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident and is in need of Spanish-speaking legal advice, our team is here for you.
Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston, Texas
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident and suffered an injury, experienced loss of income, or are unable to work due to a car accident, you can benefit from the services of a Houston car accident expert in your personal injury case. Whether you missed work due to an injury or due to not having access to a vehicle, Attorney Beverly R. Caruthers can help you!