When a person dies or is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another, the surviving members of the victim's family may sue for "wrongful death." While most wrongful death lawsuits follow in the wake of criminal trials, someone found liable for wrongful death may or may not be convicted of a crime associated with that death.
A suit for wrongful death may only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent's estate. Every state has a civil "wrongful death statute," or set of statutes, which establish the procedures for bringing wrongful death actions. Actions for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering, or expenses incurred prior to the decedent's death are also brought by the personal representative. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties as directed by the decedent's will.
This 4 part series of articles will provide an overview of the wrongful death lawsuit process. The key elements covered will be:
Part 1 in this series addressed Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit. Part 2 in this series will address Determining Pecuniary Loss and Adjustments in the Jury's Award.
When determining pecuniary loss, it's relevant to consider the age, character and condition of the decedent, his/her earning capacity, life expectancy, health and intelligence, as well as the circumstances of the heirs to the decedent’s estate. This determination may seem straightforward, but it often becomes a complicated inquiry, keeping in mind that the measure of damages is actual pecuniary loss.
Usually, the main consideration in awarding damages is the decedent's circumstances at the time of death. For example, when an adult wage earner with dependents dies, the major parts of the recovery are: 1) loss of income, and 2) loss of parental guidance. The jury may consider the decedent's earnings at the time of death, the last known earnings if unemployed, and potential future earnings.
In a wrongful death action, the jury determines the size of the damages to be awarded after hearing the evidence. The jury's determination is not the final word, however, and the size of the award may be adjusted upward or downward by the court for a variety of reasons. A jury may award lost earnings despite the decedent's having been unemployed, if he had worked in the past and if the plaintiff presented evidence of the decedent's average earnings while employed. If the plaintiff fails to present such evidence of the decedent's average earnings, the court may set aside the jury's damage award and order a new trial.
If a loved one has died after an accident or injury caused by the negligence or misconduct of another individual or company, you may be entitled to bring a legal action for wrongful death against those responsible. Due to the time deadlines for filing such a lawsuit, it is important that you contact an experienced Amarillo wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and your potential case. When the unexpected happens and you need an experienced professional Amarillo wrongful death attorney you know you can count on Bill Cornett. For well over 45 years, Amarillo attorney William (Bill) Cornett has been there to help in an uncertain time. If you need him, Bill is there. Call him today.
Your most important action may end up being the phone call that you make to your Amarillo wrongful death lawyer. In the Texas Panhandle that call should be to Amarillo wrongful death lawyer Bill Cornett. Be safe and be smart…remember these phone numbers (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618.
Bill Cornett, Amarillo Attorney with Cornett Law Firm, offers affordable, qualified services as an experienced personal injury lawyer, probate attorney, family law attorney, criminal law attorney, DWI attorney and divorce attorney. Bill also has experience in estate planning and agriculture law. Sit down with Bill at his office located at 612 S. Van Buren St. in Amarillo TX by calling (806) 374-9498 or (800) 658-6618 TODAY to schedule a free consultation.
Bill Cornett recently handled a commercial truck accident case where a rear wheel came off a moving trailer which resulted in a $1,400,000 recovery for his clients. The case was settled when an expert witness was produced that proved negligence on the part of the defendants. This was a tragic case that resulted in a large settlement which was deserved by the clients. Let Bill Cornett go to work for you to make sure you get the settlement you deserve.
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Bill Cornett grew up on a farm in Knox City, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from Texas Tech University and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Houston Law School. Bill was licensed to practice law in the State of Texas in 1973.