Punitive Damages in a Fort Worth, Texas Wrongful Death Case
This is the third post on our series discussing wrongful death cases in Fort Worth and throughout Texas. Our last post looked at damages that are recoverable when someone has been tragically killed by the negligence or wrongdoing of another. It is important to understand the difference between a survival claim and wrongful death claim and who is entitled to compensation. In this post we will further discuss damages and focus on punitive damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death case.
Punitive damages, also referred to as exemplary damages, are awarded as a penalty or punishment against the responsible party. Not only are punitive damages designed to punish a defendant for outrageous or malicious conduct, but they are also intended to deter such conduct in the future. In most cases, actual damages must be awarded to the plaintiff as a prerequisite to an award for punitive damages. A plaintiff must prove exemplary damages by clear and convincing evidence, which is a higher burden than the normal preponderance of the evidence standard in most tort cases. Despite the higher burden of proof, punitive damages may be very important in a wrongful death case to maximize a claimant’s recovery. It is important to retain an attorney familiar with this area of the law that will properly plead your case and seek punitive damages if they are appropriate.
A practical example of punitive damages in a Texas wrongful death case may include a trucking accident in which the truck company’s owner knew that the driver was regularly driving in a dangerous manner while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and chose to do nothing about it out of financial convenience. Under these facts, the truck owner would have chosen his or her profits over the safety of others and a punitive damages award may be appropriate. It is important that you retain a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer who handles matters involving serious injury and catastrophic loss. Your attorney should have the experience necessary to handle a death case involving punitive damages. This is true whether the tragedy occurred in Texas counties including Tarrant, Dallas, Johnson, and Wise counties as well as Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Haltom City, Richland Hills, North Richland Hills, Watauga, Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake, Arlington, Keller, Grand Prairie, and Dallas.