Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Compensation

What is my personal injury or wrongful death claim worth?

This is the question asked by those with personal injuries or a wrongful death claim resulting from wrongful conduct, whether from negligence in a car accident or truck wreck, injury in the oilfield, or as a result of a defective product, etc..  It is the question that the Defendant, Insurance Adjuster and Defense Lawyer must consider in determining whether to settle a personal injury claim.

The answer to the question is that the claim is worth whatever the trier of fact (judge, jury or arbitrator) may ultimately decide after considering the elements of damages available in a particular claim – if their decision is allowed to stand after any available appeals are exhausted. Accordingly, documentation of personal injury damages is extremely important.

Every client is different.  Every claim is different.  Every judge and jury is different and every lawyer presenting the case is different.  Without a crystal ball, there is no certain answer.

Often, it is the uncertainty and the desire to control the outcome that leads to the settlement of cases.

Personal Injury Damages

You must understand what types of personal injury damages are available for your case (known by lawyers as the elements of damages).  Looking at the questions that will ultimately be decided by the trier of fact (judge or jury) is a great way to start understand what you may or may not be entitled to receive. In Texas, we have the Pattern Jury Charges, which are a good resource to see what the trier of fact will decide.

Generally, these are the elements to be considered in a Texas personal injury case:

Damages to Injured Person

  • Physical pain and mental anguish sustained in the past.
  • Physical pain and mental anguish that, in reasonable probability,
    will be sustained in the future.
  • Loss of earning capacity sustained in the past.
  • Loss of earning capacity that, in reasonable probability, will be
    sustained in the future.
  • Disfigurement sustained in the past.
  • Disfigurement that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in
    the future.
  • Physical impairment sustained in the past.
  • Physical impairment that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained
    in the future.
  • Medical care expenses incurred in the past.
  • Medical care expenses that, in reasonable probability, will be incurred
    in the future.

Damages to the Spouse of an Injured Person

  • Loss of household services sustained in the past.
  • Loss of household services that, in reasonable probability, [Spouse of Injured Person] will sustain in the future.
  • Loss of consortium in the past.
  • Loss of consortium that, in reasonable probability, [Spouse of Injured Person] will sustain in the future.

Survival and Wrongful Death Damages

In Texas, the estate of a deceased or heirs may be able to recover compensation for the deceased under the Survival Statute.

Survival Damages

  • Pain and mental anguish.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Funeral and burial expenses.

In addition, there is a Wrongful Death Statute that allows the spouse, children and parents of someone killed by a wrongful act to recover compensation for the loss of a loved one.

Wrongful Death Damages

  • Pecuniary loss sustained in the past.
  • Pecuniary loss that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the
    future.
  • Loss of companionship and society sustained in the past.
  • Loss of companionship and society that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the future.
  • Mental anguish sustained in the past.
  • Mental anguish that, in reasonable probability, will be sustained in the future
  • Loss of inheritance.

Exemplary Damages

In certain cases exemplary damages may be awarded as a penalty or by way of punishment but not for compensatory purposes. Exemplary damages include punitive damages.

There is much law on what and when personal injury and wrongful death compensation is available. This post is simply to give you are general idea of what types of damages may be available.  For further information on this topic, please  refer to the article by Stephen M. Horner. Assessing Economic Damages in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation: The State of Texas. Journal of Forensic Economics 20 (1), 2007, pp. 49-71.

If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an accident, please do not hesitate to give Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

About Chris Jones

Chris Jones is a Personal Injury lawyer and Wrongful Death lawyer with over 27 years of experience. Chris Jones is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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