November 19, 2021 | Wrongful Death
If family members lose a loved one due to the careless, negligent, or intentional actions of another individual, business, or entity, they may be able to recover compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit. However, who is responsible for paying for a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas? The answer to this question depends on the facts surrounding a particular claim. In many cases, an insurance carrier will be responsible for payments, but the liable party may be on the line for payments as well.
In order to understand who pays for damages resulting from wrongful death claims, we have to look at who holds liability for causing the death. Typically, there will not be any wrongful death claim paid out without first determining liability. No two wrongful death claims are exactly alike, and the specific circumstances of the case will determine who will pay damages related to a loved one’s death.
However, what we will find is that insurance carriers are typically responsible for paying out wrongful death claims after liability has been determined. These would be the insurance carriers of the liable parties. For example, if a person loses their life as a result of a vehicle accident and another driver is found to be at fault, that other driver’s insurance carrier will be responsible for paying compensation to the family and estate of the deceased.
Similarly, if a wrongful death occurs as a result of the negligence of a property owner, then that property owner’s homeowners or commercial insurance carrier will pay compensation to the family and estate of the deceased.
Liable parties could certainly be responsible for making payments in these situations. It is not uncommon for wrongful death claims to ask for compensation above and beyond the insurance limits, particularly when examining lifelong lost earnings and pain and suffering in these cases. In these situations, family members and the estate may have a civil wrongful death claim outside of the insurance settlement against the liable party.
If successful, the at-fault party may have to pay compensation to the plaintiffs out of their own pocket. However, it can be challenging to collect money from an at-fault party directly if they do not have substantial assets or a high salary that can be garnished.
Recovering compensation for a wrongful death claim can take time. In general, we will find that cases resolved strictly through insurance settlements result in payouts much quicker than claims that go through the civil wrongful death lawsuit process. If a case does go to court, it could take multiple years for family members and the estate to recover compensation.
However, after a settlement has been agreed upon or after a wrongful death jury conviction against an at-fault party, payment could be forthcoming relatively quickly. Again, if there is an insurance carrier that will be covering most or all of the compensation, the payment will come relatively quickly after a settlement or verdict has been reached. However, for cases where the damages rise above the insurance policy limits or if there is no insurance, securing money from the assets of the at-fault party could take time, if it happens at all.