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Negotiating Settlements vs. Verdicts in Wrongful Death Cases

By Dallas Personal Injury Attorney on May 15, 2024

When deciding between a settlement and a verdict in a Dallas wrongful death case, it’s essential to consult with your attorney. Settlements might offer a sure outcome and timely compensation, but they may also be lower than what could potentially be won in court. While a verdict could yield a higher award, going to trial takes longer, and it comes with the risk of an unpredictable outcome. Therefore, an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you weigh the odds of success in court against the certainty of a negotiated agreement.

What Is Considered a Wrongful Death in Dallas?

In Texas, a wrongful death occurs when an individual loses their life due to the negligence or misconduct of another person, group, organization, or business. This definition extends to various circumstances, from car accidents caused by an intoxicated driver to fatal events that occur on unsafe worksites.

Texas law allows specific family members to file a wrongful death claim, including spouses, children, and parents of the deceased. This provides family members with a way to seek financial compensation for their loss and related damages.

For a death to be considered wrongful in Texas, there must be a clear link between the responsible party’s actions or inaction and the death of the deceased. Everyone has a duty of care to avoid actions that may cause reasonably foreseeable harm to others. The key elements involve proving that there was a duty of care owed by the defendant to the deceased, a breach of that duty, and that the breach directly caused the death.

What Is a Negotiated Settlement in a Wrongful Death Case?

A negotiated settlement in a wrongful death case is an agreement reached outside of court where the party is deemed responsible for compensating the victim’s family without going to trial. These settlements often involve private negotiations between the family’s legal representatives and the defense, or through mediation with a neutral third party.

A significant benefit of settlements is the avoidance of a public trial, which can be emotionally taxing and time-consuming. Settlements are legally binding and enforceable, providing a certain level of closure to the family. But it’s crucial to approach these negotiations with a clear understanding of the case’s value to ensure fair compensation is achieved.

Settling a wrongful death case outside of court in Texas offers additional advantages:

  • Another benefit is that settlements offer a degree of control over the outcome, as both sides agree on the compensation amount, allowing for a resolution that’s acceptable to the survivors. This also allows for flexible and creative compensation arrangements, such as structured payments over time, which might better suit the family’s needs.
  • Settlements are typically resolved faster than court cases, bringing about a more immediate financial relief to the family of the deceased.
  • The settlement process also reduces legal fees and the costs associated with a prolonged trial.
  • Settlements also provide a sense of privacy and discretion, as the details of the case and the final agreement can be kept confidential, away from public records and media scrutiny.
  • A settlement provides a certainty of outcome, avoiding the risk of an unpredictable jury decision. This can be particularly comforting for families seeking a guaranteed resolution.

The Process of Seeking a Verdict in a Wrongful Death Case

Pursuing a verdict in a wrongful death case in Texas involves a structured litigation process that begins with filing a complaint in civil court. This document outlines the legal basis for the claim, and the damages sought. The defendant can then file a response, and the discovery phase follows, where both parties gather and exchange evidence. During this period, depositions, requests for documents, and the exchange of formal written questions known as interrogatories take place to establish the facts of the case. Pre-trial motions may be filed, and settlement discussions can continue parallel to the litigation steps. If the case proceeds to trial, it can be heard by a judge or jury, who will determine liability and damages based on the evidence presented.

In certain wrongful death cases, aiming for a verdict may be more beneficial than accepting a settlement. This is particularly true when the defendant’s offer does not meet the family’s needs. When the circumstances surrounding the death involve a willful act, omission, or gross negligence, exemplary damages may be awarded by the court. Also known as punitive damages, exemplary damages can significantly increase the compensation awarded, but these damages are not typically part of settlement negotiations.

A successful verdict can also create legal precedents that may affect future cases, contributing to broader legal and social changes.

Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorneys in Dallas Win

The Lenahan Law Firm has dedicated our legal practice to getting compensation for people who were harmed by the careless behavior of others. We’ll sit down with you and discuss your best options going forward with your wrongful death case.

Founding partner Marc C. Lenahan belongs to the prestigious Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and The Lenahan Law Firm has a perfect 10.0 Avvo rating. Our dedication to our clients has been recognized by Super Lawyers, who give us high marks based on peer reviews and independent research.

Call (214) 295-1008 today to schedule a FREE consultation with one of our skilled wrongful death lawyers in Dallas and get the support you deserve.

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