Texas Wrongful Death Statute
The Texas wrongful death statute defines wrongful death as the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” that causes the death of a person. Wrongful death is different from homicide – or the intentional killing of another person – and is usually the result of negligence or recklessness.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action (rather than a criminal one) that has a statute of limitations of only two years to file a claim from the date of the death. There are a few exceptions to the two year rule, including if the plaintiff is a minor, the defendant’s negligence was not known during the two years after the death, a plaintiff’s impairment prevented filing timely, or fraud was involved.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?
In Texas, the parents, children, and spouse of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit. A child may seek compensation for a parent’s death even if they are over the age of 18. Any of the family members named above may file individually – or, the family can choose to file suit together. If no eligible family members file a wrongful death claim within three months of the death, an executor may file a claim on behalf of the estate.
Under Texas law, the deceased’s siblings and grandparents are not allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. To be eligible to file a claim, you must be:
- The surviving spouse
- A surviving child (adult or minor)
- The surviving parent(s)
- A legally adopted child of the deceased
- The surviving adoptive parent(s) of the deceased
- The personal representative of the estate of the deceased
What Compensation Is Available?
In Texas, a variety of damages are available to the survivors of wrongful death victims, including:
- Economic Damages: These include any financial assets compromised or lost due to the wrongful death. Economic damages can include lost future income, lost benefits and pensions, diminished inheritance, the value of services or goods provided by the deceased, final medical expenses, and funeral costs, among other items.
- Noneconomic Damages: In a wrongful death lawsuit, non-economic damages are those items family members can sue for that do not have a fixed dollar amount attached, such as loss of consortium and mental and emotional anguish.
- Punitive Damages: A court may order the defendants to pay exemplary damages (also known as punitive damages) as a penalty for their negligence and to ensure their bad acts do not happen again.
Texas Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing someone to an early death takes not only a heavy emotional toll, but also a financial one as well. When a loved one passes away unexpectedly, the family is unfortunately often left with many expenses. Since your loved one is no longer there to provide for you, you must make up the financial difference somehow. The compensation families receive in wrongful death cases isn’t about making anyone “rich,” but about replacing the finances taken by the negligent or wrongful actions of another. Contact Corpus Christi wrongful death attorney John T. Flood today for more information on how we can help your family heal. Call us at (361) 654-8877 or contact us online.