Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
When someone dies due to the negligence or intentional actions on the part of another person or party in Texas, only specific individuals can file a wrongful death claim. Under state law, only the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or the representative of their estate may bring a wrongful death claim in Texas. Surviving family members must file a lawsuit within two years of the deceased’s death.
If you lost a loved one in a preventable accident or harmful incident that was not their fault, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. While no compensation could ever account for your loss, a wrongful death claim could provide you with crucial financial support during this difficult time.
Here, we go into more detail about wrongful death lawsuits in Texas, including the compensation available through such claims. To discuss your case, contact the experienced attorneys at Fleming Law for a free, confidential consultation.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit brought on behalf of someone who has died due to the wrongdoing of another party or entity. Since the deceased cannot file a lawsuit, their surviving family members or estate must file it.
A wrongful death claim allows the decedent’s family members to pursue compensation for economic and non-economic losses they have incurred due to their loved one’s death.
Common causes of wrongful deaths in Texas include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Workplace accidents
- Premises liability accidents (such as slip-and-falls)
- Nursing home abuse and neglect
- Intentional acts of violence (such as a physical assault).
How to Prove Liability in a Wrongful Death Claim
Texas law defines wrongful death as any death caused by another party’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.” You do not have to prove someone intentionally caused your family member’s death, only that they acted without concern for the deceased’s safety or did not take reasonable precautions to prevent an accident.
Attorneys will use various types of evidence to prove liability in a wrongful death claim. The evidence may include the following:
- Police or incident reports
- Medical records and test results
- Statements from witnesses who saw the accident or incident occur
- Surveillance footage of the accident or incident
- Photos from the accident scene
- Physical evidence, such as damaged property
- Testimony from accident reconstruction experts or medical professionals.
Who Is Allowed to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
According to Texas’s wrongful death statute, the parties who can file a wrongful death lawsuit are the deceased’s surviving:
- Child or children
- Parent or parents.
The personal representative of the deceased’s estate may also file a claim, provided three months have passed since the death, and no surviving family member has filed a claim. However, the representative cannot file a wrongful death claim if an eligible surviving family member objects.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
The statute of limitations in Texas gives family members two years from the date of their loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit against an at-fault party or entity. If you miss the statutory deadline, the court will likely dismiss your case, and you could lose your chance to seek compensation.
Even if you do not intend to sue, the filing deadline matters. The liable party or their insurance company may have less incentive to negotiate in good faith if they know you cannot take them to court to seek fair compensation. You should immediately speak to a wrongful death attorney to ensure you do not miss any critical deadlines and protect your right to pursue compensation for your losses.
What Compensation is Available in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit is awarded to surviving family members for the economic and non-economic losses they suffer due to a loved one’s death. The amount you could recover depends on many factors, but compensation in a wrongful death claim could include money for:
- Loss of love, comfort, society, and companionship
- Lost inheritance, including what the decedent might have earned, saved, and left to heirs had they survived
- Mental pain and anguish
- Lost earnings, benefits, or retirement income
- Loss of care, maintenance, counsel, advice, and support the decedent might have provided surviving family members.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death Claim and a Survival Action?
A wrongful death claim seeks to compensate a deceased person’s surviving family members for losses stemming from the death. A survival action is intended to compensate the deceased’s estate for losses the decedent suffered from the time of injury until their passing. A survival action may seek financial relief for the following:
- Medical expenses associated with treating the fatal injury or illness
- The deceased’s pain and suffering before their death
- Funeral and burial expenses.
One crucial difference between wrongful death claims and survival actions is that any compensation from a survival action goes to the deceased’s estate. From there, it is distributed among the deceased’s beneficiaries according to their will.
Contact a Texas Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If your loved one died in a preventable accident or harmful incident in Texas, you have a right to hold any at-fault parties or entities accountable. You could be entitled to file a wrongful death claim to seek justice and compensation for your losses. However, wrongful death lawsuits can be time-consuming and overwhelming, particularly while you are grieving the death of a loved one. Fortunately, you do not have to face this difficult task alone.
The attorneys at Fleming Law are committed to advocating for the rights of surviving family members and helping them seek the financial relief they need to rebuild their lives. Let our experienced, compassionate lawyers handle every detail of your claim so that you can focus on what matters.
You deserve a chance to hold responsible parties accountable for your family member’s death, and we can help you to protect your rights. To learn more, contact our experienced and dedicated Texas wrongful death lawyers today to get started during a free initial consultation.
Nicholas P. Fleming focuses his practice in the area of civil litigation. As a skilled personal injury attorney, he handles a broad range of cases including motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, workplace accidents, and wrongful death. He is licensed to practice by the State Bar of Texas and is a graduate of the South Texas College of Law, earning his J.D. in 2017. Nicholas prides himself on providing personalized service to his clients, who are often facing extremely stressful situations.