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How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid in Texas?

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid in TX? – Wrongful Death Attorney

Wrongful Death Compensation Can Be Paid Out Differently from One Claim to the Next. Here’s Why.

Wrongful death settlements can signify the end of a claim, marking a key milestone in the journey to justice. They are not, however, carbon copy payouts that work and look the same from case to case.

Here’s why, with an insightful dive into:

What Is a Wrongful Death Settlement?

To understand how, when, and why wrongful death settlements are paid out, it’s first key to know what this compensation is. In general, a wrongful death settlement is an agreed-upon amount of money that:

  • An insurance company or a negligent party pays the plaintiff, meaning the individual(s) who initiated the claim.
  • Resolves the case, ending it before a jury does
  • Can include compensation for various losses
  • May, in the most horrific circumstances, include punitive damages to punish the at-fault party (Please be aware that punitive damages are exceedingly rare and usually reserved for the most egregious incidents and acts of negligence).

How Medical Treatment Can Impact Your Case

As such, wrongful death settlements can cover losses like (and not limited to):

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost earnings
  • Loss of consortium
  • Pain and suffering

Compensation for these losses won’t bring back a loved one or erase the pain of losing them. Still, wrongful death settlements can help surviving loved ones cover expenses, deal with grief and trauma, and lay a loved one to rest.

When Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid in Texas?

Wrongful death settlements are typically paid out in Texas when the parties involved in a claim can agree on fair compensation to settle and resolve the case (please note that there’s a difference between wrongful death cases vs. survival actions in Texas). In other words, with wrongful death settlements in Texas:

  • If the plaintiff doesn’t agree that the proposed offer is fair, the claim won’t be settled — and a wrongful death settlement won’t be paid out.
  • If the insurance company or defendant denies negligence or that the loss of life is even a “wrongful death,” the plaintiff may not be offered a wrongful death settlement at all. Instead, the claim may go to court. If the plaintiff wins in court and is awarded compensation, that is referred to as a “wrongful death award,” rather than a “wrongful death settlement.”
  • If the parties cannot agree on the amount or terms of a wrongful death settlement, the dispute can go to court for a judge and jury to decide.
  • Wrongful death settlements can be negotiated, and first offers are not necessarily final ones.
  • Wrongful death settlements can depend on what the plaintiff or family wants. Ultimately, it’s up to them to decide whether to decline offers, make counteroffers, accept a wrongful death settlement offer, or hold out for their day in court.

In light of that, there’s no timeframe for when, how soon, or how long it takes for wrongful death settlements to be paid out. The complex and case-specific factors involved mean that there are simply no numbers to answer this question without knowing more about a case, including the losses involved and what the plaintiffs want.

This is where a wrongful death lawyer can be helpful, providing claim-focused insights, valuing cases, assisting with settlement negotiations, and more.

Lump Sum Wrongful Death Settlements or Structured Payouts?

As part of the terms of a settlement agreement, the parties involved in a claim can decide whether they want the payout to be a lump sum or a structured settlement, the difference generally being that:

  • Lump sum wrongful death settlements are delivered in a single payment, with plaintiffs often getting a check for the total amount.
  • Structured wrongful death settlements are paid out over time, with a set amount distributed each month until the settlement is paid in full.

Each option can have pros and cons for both parties involved, as the table below highlights.

 

 

Settlement Type

Advantages

Disadvantages

Lump Sum
  • Plaintiffs can get access to much larger sums of money faster, possibly providing much-needed financial resources.
  • There’s no risk of non-payment over time.
  • Managing large sums of money for the long term can be challenging. Some may deplete it too soon.
  • The amounts can look very large, but they may not totally compensate for the losses (so it’s important to understand what’s covered in the lump sum).
Structured Settlement
  • Ongoing cash influxes could be a dependable income source over time.
  • These payouts can serve as “on-paper” income from month to month, possibly helping with future borrowing (if a breadwinner was the decedent, for instance).
  • There can be a higher risk of failure to make payments over time.
  • Once established, it’s difficult (if not near-impossible) to alter the amount and frequency of these payments.

 

Given the facts above, lump sum vs. structured wrongful death settlements can offer some distinct pros and cons for plaintiffs. Their circumstances and needs can distill the best options for them.

On the other hand, from the defendant’s perspective, insurance companies can be inclined to offer lump sum payouts simply to close out the claim, so the company and its adjuster can move on. If a  smaller, less monied defendant is involved, they may want a structured settlement because they can’t afford a lump sum payment.

All of this may be leveraged and worked out in wrongful death settlement negotiations. Navigating those battlefields with an experienced wrongful death attorney can put plaintiffs in a better position for optimal results.

Who Gets Paid Wrongful Death Settlements in Texas?

Wrongful Death Settlements TexasThe plaintiffs of a claim can be paid a wrongful death settlement in Texas when both parties, meaning the plaintiffs and defendants, can get on the same page regarding settlement amounts and terms. Off paper and in the real world, the plaintiffs who typically get paid wrongful death settlements in TX can include a decedent’s surviving:

  • Spouse
  • Biological children
  • Adopted children
  • Parents

If those parties do not file a claim within three months of the date of death, a personal representative for the estate of the decedent may also file a claim. If that happens, a successful claim could result in a wrongful death settlement payout to the estate of a decedent.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Distributed in Texas?

The terms of the settlement will dictate how the monies are to be distributed, and:

  • The terms may earmark distributions for more than one party, with a spouse and children potentially getting wrongful death payouts.
  • Debts to medical providers may be settled before plaintiffs see a wrongful death settlement.
  • Distribution terms need to be carefully crafted to ensure full, fair compensation. Any loopholes or oversights could create additional problems securing wrongful death settlements.

With everything on the line and no “do-overs” available, negotiating wrongful death settlements — and making sure the terms are properly documented — can be much less of a struggle if you have an experienced wrongful death lawyer in your corner.