Texas Wrongful Death Statute
Certain parties may file wrongful death claims under Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code when death is caused by the wrongdoing, negligence, or carelessness of another person or company. That means you can bring a wrongful death claim when a loved one dies from someone else’s negligence. That can include a drunk driving accident, a distracted driving collision, a defective product, an explosion, an 18-wheeler truck accident, medical malpractice committed by a doctor or hospital, or any other type of mistake made by a person or organization. But only a few parties are permitted under Texas law to file a wrongful death claim.
Who May File a Claim for Wrongful Death?
Certain members of the decedent’s family are eligible to initiate wrongful death lawsuits in Texas. This includes the decedent’s parents, children, and surviving spouse. In some situations, an adopted kid who was legally and completely adopted may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit for an adopted child may also be brought by the adoptive parents. These claims can be made as a single action or by filing claims on behalf of the entire family.
Do I qualify to bring a wrongful death claim in Texas?
If your case satisfies these two fundamental requirements, you might be eligible to pursue a wrongful death claim under the Wrongful Death Act:
- Your family member passed away because of the defendant’s reckless or irresponsible behavior.
- You are the decedent’s statutory beneficiary (spouse, child, or parent only).
No wrongful death claims for siblings, divorced spouses, or grandkids
Unfortunately, siblings who are still alive — whether adopted or biological — cannot bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. The siblings are not included in a claim if it is joined together by the parents, children, or surviving spouse of the dead.
This law prohibits siblings, divorced spouses, and grandkids from bringing wrongful death lawsuits. The offspring of a biological parent whose parental rights were legally terminated are also ineligible to file a compensation claim. Interestingly, stepparents and stepchildren can file a lawsuit, but only after the adoption procedure is over. But the people who can benefit from wrongful death laws are different in each state.
How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas?
Wrongful death claims in Texas can be subject to two separate statutes of limitations. The first is the limitations period on the claim a deceased person could have filed. The second is the limitations period for the plaintiff’s wrongful death claim. Keeping these deadlines in mind, a plaintiff ultimately has two years from the date of their loved one’s death to file their claim.
Do I have to bring a claim under the Texas Wrongful Death Act?
No, family members can bring both a survival action and a wrongful death claim. These concepts are frequently misunderstood. Here are the fundamentals:
Wrongful Death Claims: When a family member is killed due to the negligence of another individual, the Texas Wrongful Death Act enables the family to seek compensation. The “whole value of the life” of the deceased person is what this action seeks to recoup. In other words, to be awarded damages, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that the loss of their loved one has caused both financial and emotional harm to them. If a case is successful, family members could get direct reimbursement for funeral and medical costs.
Survival actions: On behalf of the decedent’s estate, a survival action may be used to recover economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. These losses are intended to be a representation of the compensation that the person may have gotten if the accident hadn’t killed them. Damages are paid immediately to the estate for distribution, unlike in a wrongful death case.
Talk to an attorney about the Texas Wrongful Death Statute
David P. Willis has decades of experience with the Texas Wrongful Death Statute. He is a board-certified personal injury trial law specialist representing families in wrongful death lawsuits across the United States. For almost 40 years, we’ve put in a lot of effort to get the best results for our clients, and we’ll do the same for you. Call us at 1-800-883-9858 to tell us your story.