The Texas Wrongful Death Act permits family members of the decedent to a civil claim (lawsuit) against the negligent party in order to recover damages covered under the chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The statute defines the circumstances under which this can be done, as well as the parties who have the legal right to do so.
Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code defines wrongful death as a situation in which an individual dies in an accident as the result of carelessness, neglect, unskillful operation, or default on the part of an individual or corporation. What this means is that if an individual dies because of the negligence of another person, in most cases, the family can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.
Filing a claim.
Under Texas statutes, only certain members of the decedent’s family are permitted to file a wrongful death claim. The family members who are permitted to file wrongful death claims are called beneficiaries, and include the following:
- Surviving spouse
- Children of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
- Adopted children and parents (provided the adoption was legal)
The perspective family members can file their claims individually or as part of a group. Unfortunately, Texas law does not allow siblings of the deceased to file a claim. Only those mentioned above are permitted to be party to a wrongful death claim.
Potential damage awards.
The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate the surviving family for any losses that resulted (or will result) from the loss of their loved one. The types of damages survivors can collect vary, and are contingent upon the relationship between the deceased and the survivors. Some of the damages that may be recoverable include:
- Mental anguish
- Loss of earning capacity
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of household services
- Loss of care, counsel, guidance, or support
- Loss of companionship or love
Sometimes when the death results from willful or gross negligence, the family can also recover punitive damages.
Not only can family members recover their own related losses, The Texas Wrongful Death Act also allows them to pursue the deceased party’s personal injury claim (if the decedent endured pain and suffering prior to death). This type of claim is called a survival action, and seeks compensation that the decedent could have collected himself if he had survived to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Some of the damages that may be recoverable include physical pain and suffering and mental anguish that the decedent endured prior to his or her death. Other damages that fall into this category include medical expenses that resulted from trying to save the decedent, as well as burial expenses.
Statute of limitations.
Family members in Texas must file a claim within two years of the decedent’s death, or they are statutorily barred from filing a lawsuit. While there are a few exceptions to Texas’ statute of limitations, it’s best to assume the lawsuit must meet the two year deadline. Wrongful death lawsuits are quite complicated, so it’s best to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Waiting even a few weeks can jeopardize your case as evidence needs to be collected as soon as possible.
If you are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit and need to speak to an experienced attorney, our firm is happy to provide free consultations by phone or email. All you need to do is fill out the contact form on this page, or call our office (toll-free) at 1-877-405-4313.
Speak With a Dallas Wrongful Death Lawyer For Free
The attorneys at Rasansky Law Firm are happy to speak to you about your potential case free of charge. If we can help with your claim, we’ll do so for no out-of-pocket cost to you. Call us 24/7 at (214) 651-6100, or toll-free at 1-877-405-4313.