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Austin Wrongful Death Lawyer: Your Top Legal Anchor

A “wrongful death” occurs when a person is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of another individual, company or entity. An action for wrongful death belongs to the decedent’s immediate family members (often called “distributees“). The most common distributees are surviving spouses and children, and sometimes parents. A suit for wrongful death may only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate who will want to hire an experienced Austin wrongful death lawyer.

Austin wrongful death lawyers serve as advocates for grieving families, seeking accountability and financial compensation for their devastating loss. As Austin wrongful death lawyers, they provide invaluable legal guidance and support during a difficult and emotional time, helping their clients navigate the legal process with compassion and professionalism.

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Your Austin wrongful death lawyer, we will pursue actions for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering, or expenses incurred prior to the decedent’s death. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties as directed by the decedent’s will.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In order to bring a successful wrongful death cause of action, the following elements must be proven by your Austin wrongful death lawyer:

  1. The death of a human being;
  2. Caused by another’s negligence;
  3. The survival of family members who are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death, and;
  4. The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent’s estate.

Here are the most common situations we see as Austin wrongful death lawyers:

  • Medical malpractice that results in decedent’s death;
  • Car accident;
  • Truck accident;
  • Airplane accident;
  • Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances;
  • Death during a supervised activity.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Pecuniary, or financial, injury is the main measure of damages in a wrongful death action.

Courts have interpreted “pecuniary injuries” as including the loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses. Most laws provide that the damages awarded for wrongful death shall be fair and just compensation for the pecuniary injuries that resulted from the decedent’s death. If the distributees paid or are responsible for the decedent’s funeral or medical care, they may also recover those expenses. Finally, a damage award will include interest from the date of the decedent’s death.

Determining Pecuniary Loss

When determining pecuniary loss, it is relevant to consider:

  • The age, character, and condition of the decedent;
  • His/her earning capacity;
  • Life expectancy;
  • Health and intelligence; and
  • The circumstances of the distributees.

This determination may seem straightforward, but it often becomes a complicated inquiry, keeping in mind that the measure of damages is actual pecuniary loss. Specialists have to be brought in, which is why it’s important to hire an expensive Austin wrongful death lawyer. 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.

Adjustments in the Jury’s Award

In a wrongful death action, the jury determines the size of the damages 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.

For example, if the decedent routinely squandered his income, this might reduce the family’s recovery.

Similarly, the courts will reduce a jury’s award if the decedent had poor earnings, even though he was young, had great potential, and supported several children.

At the same time, 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.

Using Expert Testimony to Determine Pecuniary Loss

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Plaintiffs can present expert testimony of economists to establish the value of the decedent to his family. Until recently, this testimony was not admissible when a housewife died, but that rule has changed. When the decedent is a housewife who was not employed outside the home, the financial impact on the survivors will not involve a loss of income, but increased expenditures to continue the services she was providing or would have provided if she had lived. Because jurors may not be knowledgeable regarding the monetary value of a housewife’s services, experts may aid the jury in this evaluation.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are awarded in cases of serious or malicious wrongdoing to punish the wrongdoer or deter others from behaving similarly. In most states, a plaintiff may not recover punitive damages in a wrongful death action. There are some states, however, that have specific statutes that permit the recovery of punitive damages. In states that do not explicitly allow or disallow punitive damages in wrongful death actions, courts have held punitive damages permissible. An Austin wrongful death lawyer will be able to advise you as to whether your state allows punitive damages.

Survival Actions for Personal Injury

In addition to damages for wrongful death, the distributees may be able to recover damages for personal injury to the decedent. These are called “survival actions,” since the personal injury action survives the person who suffered the injury. The decedent’s representative can bring such an action together with the wrongful death action, for the benefit of the decedent’s estate.

In a survival action for a decedent’s conscious pain and suffering, the jury may make several inquiries to determine the number of damages, including 1) the degree of consciousness; 2) severity of pain; and, 3) apprehension of impending death, along with the duration of such suffering.

Experienced Austin Wrongful Death Lawyer

With their expertise in navigating complex legal proceedings and their dedication to securing fair compensation, these Austin wrongful death lawyers provide essential support and guidance to clients during their time of need. By seeking accountability and financial restitution, wrongful death lawyers help bring closure and a sense of resolution to families coping with the tragic loss of a loved one.

If someone you loved was killed and you are looking for an Austin wrongful death lawyer in Texas, we can help. Contact us right away so we can get to work for your family. Call (512) 246-9191 or fill in the contact form.

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