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May 31, 2024 | Lopez Franco PLLC

Settling vs. Litigating: Determining the Best Approach for Your Wrongful Death Case

In Texas, as in many other jurisdictions, families faced with the tragic loss of a loved one due to wrongful death often find themselves grappling with the difficult decision of whether to settle or litigate their case. Each option has its own set of advantages, drawbacks, and considerations that are unique to the situation and facts at hand. 

In Texas, a “wrongful death” happens when an injury causes a person’s death through another’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. Examples of wrongful deaths include drunk driving, manslaughter, homicide, and catastrophic injuries from plant and refinery accidents. Under the Texas wrongful death statute, only the decedent’s surviving spouse, parents, or children can bring the wrongful death suit. In Texas, brothers and sisters of the deceased are without standing to bring the suit. Adult children may file wrongful death claims regarding the death of a parent. A Houston wrongful death attorney will help you understand if you have standing to proceed with a legal case. 

Should You Settle or Litigate Your Wrongful Death Suit?

Settling a wrongful death case involves reaching an agreement with the responsible party or their insurance company outside of court. This typically entails negotiating a financial compensation package that addresses the damages incurred by the surviving family members. Settlement offers the advantage of avoiding the time, expense, and emotional toll of a protracted legal battle. Additionally, settlements can provide a faster resolution, allowing the family to begin the healing process sooner. Settling can expedite closure in Houston, where the court dockets may be crowded.

However, settling also has its limitations. In most cases, the amount offered in a settlement may not fully compensate for the losses suffered, including medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and emotional pain and suffering. Furthermore, accepting a settlement means waiving the right to pursue further legal action against the responsible party, even if new evidence emerges later. 

On the other hand, litigating a wrongful death case involves taking the matter to court and allowing a judge or jury to decide the outcome, which is often the preferred route if the responsible party disputes liability or offers an insufficient settlement amount. 

However, litigation also comes with its own challenges. Court proceedings can be lengthy and costly, consuming valuable time and resources. Additionally, the outcome of a trial is never guaranteed, and there is always the risk of an unfavorable judgment or an extended appeals process. Moreover, litigation can prolong the emotional strain on the family.

Contact a Houston Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Ultimately, the decision to settle or litigate a wrongful death case in Houston—or any other jurisdiction—depends on each case’s unique facts and circumstances. Consulting with experienced legal counsel like Lopez Franco, a firm specializing in wrongful death cases, can provide invaluable guidance in navigating this difficult decision-making process and pursuing the course of action that best serves the interests of the surviving family members. Contact Lopez Franco PLLC today.