Who can bring a wrongful death claim?
In Texas, the legal right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit is reserved for the surviving spouse, children (including adopted), and parents of the deceased. Executors or personal representatives may also file under specific circumstances.
This article provides a comprehensive guide to understanding wrongful death in Texas and who can file a wrongful death suit in Texas.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death in Texas?
A wrongful death in Texas is defined as a death caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of another person. This broad definition encompasses various scenarios, from fatal car accidents caused by reckless driving to medical malpractice leading to a patient’s demise.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Texas?
Surviving Family Members
Whether minor or adult, a surviving spouse has the legal right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas.
Children, including adopted children whose adoption was finalized before the date of death, can seek compensation.
Parents, including adoptive parents, have the right to seek damages for the wrongful death of a child.
Executors and Personal Representatives
The executor or personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file a wrongful death claim if no eligible family member does so within 90 days after the person’s death.
Siblings and distant relatives do not have the right to file a wrongful death claim in Texas individually. However, they can potentially recover benefits through a claim filed by a personal representative.
Examples of Wrongful Acts
Motor Vehicle Accidents
A driver’s reckless or negligent behavior, such as speeding, drunk driving, or texting while driving, can lead to fatal accidents. The surviving family members of the victim of a motor vehicle accident may file a wrongful death claim against the responsible driver.
Fatal accidents can occur in various workplaces, especially in high-risk industries like construction, oil and gas, or manufacturing. Employers’ failure to provide proper safety equipment or adhere to safety regulations may lead to a wrongful death claim.
Manufacturers, distributors, or retailers may be held liable if a defective product, such as a faulty vehicle part or a dangerous pharmaceutical drug, leads to a person’s death.
Property owners have a duty to maintain safe premises. If a person dies due to hazardous conditions on the property, such as a slip and fall on a wet floor or an attack due to inadequate security, the property owner may be held responsible.
Pedestrians struck and killed by motor vehicles may have a wrongful death claim if the driver was negligent, such as failing to yield the right of way or driving under the influence.
Fatal accidents can occur during recreational activities, such as boating, swimming, or hiking. Operators or property owners may be held liable if they failed to provide proper safety measures or warnings.
Exposure to Toxic Substances
Long-term exposure to toxic substances, such as asbestos or harmful chemicals, can lead to fatal illnesses. Employers or manufacturers may be held liable for failing to provide proper protection or warnings.
Damages and Compensation
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the damages and compensation sought are meant to alleviate the financial and emotional burdens placed on the surviving family members. Here’s a detailed look at the types of damages available in Texas:
- Medical Expenses: Covers the medical costs incurred by the deceased before death.
- Funeral and Burial Costs: Includes expenses related to funeral services and burial.
- Loss of Income: Compensation for the loss of earnings and benefits that the deceased would have provided.
- Loss of Companionship: Addresses the emotional pain and loss of companionship, love, and support.
- Loss of Services: Compensation for the loss of services such as childcare, housekeeping, and cooking.
- Mental Anguish: Recognition of the emotional distress and suffering experienced by the surviving family members.
In some cases, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future.
At Varghese Summersett, our dedicated attorneys will actively pursue all available damages, ensuring that you receive the compensation you deserve for the loss of your loved one. We understand the complexities of wrongful death cases and will guide you through every step of the legal process.
Legal Procedures and Timelines for Wrongful Death Claims
Initiating a wrongful death claim requires adherence to specific legal procedures and timelines. In Texas, surviving family members must file a lawsuit within two years of the deceased’s death.
Understanding who can bring a wrongful death suit in Texas is crucial for those seeking justice for a lost loved one. With the guidance of the skilled attorneys at Varghese Summersett, you can navigate the complex legal landscape with confidence. Contact us today at (817) 207-4878 to discuss your case.