When a loved one dies in an accident, their life is upended. The loss and grief are overwhelming, but practical matters also come into play. The deceased person’s economic contribution to the family is now gone, and the death may have triggered large medical or other bills. If the person died because of the negligent or reckless actions of another party, certain surviving family members may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Absolutely nothing can change the course of events, but a wrongful death lawsuit could provide compensation for the deceased’s family. A personal injury lawsuit may become a wrongful death lawsuit if the affected person dies from the injury.
Texas statutes allow for two types of claims family members may pursue after a loved one dies. A survival action relates to someone who did not die immediately from the accident, but endured pain and suffering for a period before death. Funeral and burial expenses are also taken into account in survival actions.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Texas law permits the surviving spouse, child, or parents of the dead person – known as the decedent – to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Adult children have the right to sue for a parent’s death. If the decedent was adopted, his or her parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit, but stepparents are not eligible to file. Biological and adopted children may file such a suit if their parent dies, but a child legally adopted by another party cannot bring suit for the death of a biological parent.
Siblings, nieces and nephews and grandparents of a decedent cannot file wrongful death suits in Texas. Romantic partners, even fiancés, cannot file wrongful death lawsuits in Texas, but these situations are not always straightforward. Texas recognizes common law marriages in certain circumstances. A personal injury attorney can discuss whether the relationship between the decedent and the surviving partner might constitute a common law marriage for purposes of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful Death Compensation
Family members may pursue damages for wrongful death due to the economic losses caused by a decedent’s passing. They may also receive damages for the loss of the decedent’s companionship and the mental anguish endured because of the death.
Statute of Limitations
Texas has a statute of limitations for the filing of wrongful death suits. In most situations, such suits require filing within two years of the person’s death. That is two years from the actual death date, not the date of the accident if the individual did not succumb immediately. However, in a situation where a medical provider has caused the injury, the statute of limitations typically expires two years from the date of the incident which caused the injury and/or death.
Contact an Attorney
If you have a loved one who has been injured or killed as the result of someone else’s actions, you need the services of a personal injury/wrongful death attorney. Call Howie Law PC at 866-828-2028 or email us for a free consultation. We will review your case and advise you of your options.