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Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Settlement?

Who Gets the Money in a Wrongful Death Settlement?

Who gets the money in a wrongful death settlement is based on Texas law. If your family member died due to the negligence or intentional act of another party, you might be able to file a wrongful death claim against those responsible. The settlement money is paid to a surviving spouse, children, parents, or estate. If your family suffered the loss of a loved one because of the actions of another party, Evans/Reilley may be able to help.

There’s practically no limit to the situations that can be the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit. Loved ones are killed every day due to the negligence or intentional acts of others. These lawsuits try to hold the responsible parties accountable and provide compensation for the losses suffered by family members.

Settlements in wrongful death cases can result from:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Vehicle accidents
  • Violent crimes
  • Drug side effects
  • Defective products
  • Landowner negligence
  • Workplace accidents
  • Nursing or group home negligence or abuse
  • Government negligence or wrongdoing

Under Texas law, wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by surviving spouses, children, and parents when a loved one dies unexpectedly. The person handling their estate can also file a related lawsuit, called a “survival action.” The proceeds from that case could pay the taxes and debts of your loved one’s estate, with the rest going to the next of kin if there is no will. If there is a will, the money would go to the beneficiaries listed in it.

How Does a Wrongful Death Settlement Work?

There are several elements to a case that show how a wrongful death settlement works. First, it helps to understand who can file a claim. In Texas, a wrongful death claim can be filed by a surviving spouse, parent, or child. A survival action, or claim, is made by the personal representative of the estate. A wrongful death claim addresses the damages suffered by the family members who lost a loved one. Survival claims cover damages suffered by the person who died and his or her estate. These include funds needed to pay debts or taxes owed by that person before they died.

Another step in how a wrongful death settlement works relates to the distribution of funds from the settlement. The people, such as immediate family members, who file a claim can get the proceeds of a wrongful death settlement. In addition, the attorneys that handle a wrongful death claim would be paid out of the settlement. Our firm accepts cases on a contingency fee basis, so you pay nothing up front. Evans/Reilley would get a share of a settlement or verdict. If there is no settlement or if your case is dismissed, you owe us nothing.

How are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

Like most civil lawsuits, nearly all wrongful death claims and survival actions settle before a trial takes place. Usually, neither side wants to risk an “all or nothing” outcome to a serious claim. Instead, both sides compromise and agree to a settlement.

Once an agreement is reached, how are wrongful death settlements paid out? Nearly all of those responsible in these cases have insurance. Unless the policy does not cover a person’s negligent acts that lead to a wrongful death, the company provides a legal defense. The insurance company should pay for a settlement or verdict up to the policy limits.

How Would You Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?

Unless the act was intentional, you must prove that the person or company being sued was negligent and, as a result, there was an accident that caused a fatal injury. You would have the burden to prove that …

  • The party sued owed your family member an obligation to do, or not do, something. This could be another driver’s acting reasonably to control his vehicle, a doctor’s treating your loved one as he or she should, or a company’s selling a product that’s safe to use.
  • The defendant didn’t live up to that obligation. For instance, the other driver was distracted and speeding before the crash; the doctor failed to order the right tests to get a correct diagnosis in time; or the piece of equipment that failed and caused the accident wasn’t designed right and was unsafe to use.
  • The acts or failure to act of the party sued was the cause of the accident, the fatal injuries, and your family member’s death.
  • Your family suffered damages (the harm done, measured in dollars) as a result.
  • The party sued must, under Texas law, pay your family for those damages.

What Would a Wrongful Death Settlement Pay For?

With a wrongful death claim, you can seek compensation for what you’ve suffered because of your loved one’s death. Your loses can include:

  • The loss of financial support
  • The loss of companionship (the harm caused by the end of the relationship)
  • The survivor’s mental anguish.

A survival action filed by the person managing the estate of your loved one could result in compensation for:

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical expenses for care after the accident and until your loved one’s death
  • Property damage caused by an accident
  • Lost income due to injuries
  • Pain and suffering after an accident up until death.

In either lawsuit, under state law, if the death was the result of someone’s “willful act or omission or gross negligence,” punitive damages could be awarded. These damages are meant to punish negligent acts and discourage people from harming others with similar negligence again. These damages are rare because there is a need to prove that the acts were intentional or extreme.

We Help Clients Through This Difficult Time

How does a wrongful death settlement work? Who gets the money in a wrongful death settlement? We can answer these questions and explain how a wrongful death claim could play out in your situation.

The Evans/Reilley Law Firm knows the unexpected death of a family member affects survivors. If survivors include children, a family may be concerned about how they will be supported now and in the future. Seeking compensation through a settlement is only one reason to file a wrongful death case. It’s also a way to hold accountable the person responsible for the death of your loved one.

Grief and anger may make it difficult for you to talk about what happened to your loved one. We understand what you’re going through and are here when you need us. If you believe you may have a wrongful death case, fill out our online contact form. If you want to talk to us, call us when you’re ready, at (512) 732-2727. Find out how we can help you and your family.

Attorney Chip Evans

Austin Attorney Chip EvansChip Evans is a partner at Evans & Herlihy. Chip brings to the firm more than 20 years of experience as a trial lawyer representing Plaintiffs. It is the desire to help individuals, not corporations, that attracts Chip to this side of the docket. [ Attorney Bio ]