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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?

Posted on January 23, 2024

Losing a loved one due to the negligence or wrongful actions of another is devastating. In Texas, the legal system allows for the pursuit of justice through wrongful death claims. These claims provide a legal avenue for certain family members to seek compensation for the losses they have suffered.

Eligible Parties to File a Wrongful Death Claim

The Texas Wrongful Death Act specifies who has the legal standing to file a wrongful death claim. Eligible family members include:

  • Surviving Spouse: The surviving spouse has the primary right to file a wrongful death claim.
  • Children: Surviving children, whether biological or adopted, have the right to file a wrongful death claim. They can file the claim individually or jointly if there is no surviving spouse.
  • Parents: If there is no surviving spouse or children, the deceased person’s parents may file a wrongful death claim. This includes both biological and adoptive parents.
  • Dependents: Any individuals who were financially dependent on the deceased, such as stepchildren and adopted children, may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim.
  • Personal Representative: If none of the above individuals takes legal action within three months of the death, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate.

The right to file a wrongful death claim is typically exclusive to the individuals listed above. Other family members, such as siblings or grandparents often do not have the legal standing to file such claims in Texas.

Time Limit for Filing

In Texas, there is a statute of limitations that establishes a time frame within which a wrongful death claim must be filed. Generally, the claim must be initiated within two years of the date of the deceased person’s death. Failing to file within this timeframe may result in the loss of the right to pursue a wrongful death claim.

Available Compensation in Wrongful Death Claims

Damages may be awarded to a surviving family who pursues a wrongful death claim. “Damages” refers to the compensation recovered due to a legal wrong committed by another party. The types of compensation awarded will vary based on the circumstances of each case but often include:

  • Medical bills related to the death;
  • Funeral, cremation, or burial costs;
  • Loss of the victim’s expected wages;
  • Loss of benefits;
  • Reduction in the inheritance suffered by surviving children;
  • Loss of parental guidance;
  • Loss of support and services that the victim provided, such as childcare;
  • Loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, and advice.
  • Conscious pain and suffering the deceased endured due to their injuries; and,
  • Interest on top of the damages awarded, which are calculated from the date of death.

In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the defendant (at-fault party) if their actions were malicious or egregious.

Speak to a Lawyer Today

Filing a wrongful death claim is a complex and emotionally challenging process. While nothing can fully compensate for the loss of a loved one, pursuing a wrongful death claim can provide financial support for the surviving family members and hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions. If you believe you have a wrongful death claim in Texas, consult a trusted Waco wrongful death lawyer today.