Losing a loved one in a fatal car accident can be an incredibly traumatic experience for people of all ages. Every year, countless people across the state of Texas and the entire country are forced to confront the news that a family member has died in a preventable collision. In such cases, the process of mourning can be severely compounded by considerable financial hardships and other serious issues placed on surviving family and friends. Wrongful death claims can be filed by several different parties, and can account for a number of types of losses.
Outlining wrongful death tort, the Texas Constitution and Statutes website explains that the parents, children or surviving spouse of a fatal accident victim can introduce wrongful death claims against the liable party or parties in an incident. Claimants can pursue action as a group or individually in many cases. Similarly, the administrator of the accident victim’s estate can introduce wrongful death claims in some cases as well.
Considering the types of financial compensation that can be pursued in wrongful death suits, California State University Northridge describes compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages account for actual losses resulting from the wrongful death incident in question. Therefore, the compensatory damages award that a claimant receives may factor in everything from lost wages to medical bills to emotional distress.
Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages serve as a form of punishment. Punitive damages can be awarded in cases involving intentional wrongdoing and/or brazen negligence, and are generally determined by a trial jury. Since punitive damages awards are generally understood as financial penalties, and can vary significantly from case to case, they are also much more controversial than compensatory damages.