Texas Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death

It’s tough enough losing a family member under any circumstance. But the ultimate heartbreak is losing a loved one due to the reckless behavior and/or negligent conduct of another person, group of people, occupational or commercial entity. That’s when a claim for Wrongful Death, brought by surviving family members, or a Survivorship Claim, brought by the estate on behalf of the deceased, is appropriate.

Under the Texas Wrongful Death Statute, it is preferable that the spouse of the decedent bring the claim. If there is no spouse, the claim may be brought by the surviving children or other dependents, with preference going to the immediate children. If the surviving child or children are minors, a claim may be brought by another family member, acting as a “guardian” on behalf of the minor child or children. If the deceased is a minor, a claim may be filed on behalf of the child by (a) the parents, or (b) grandparents, if the parents did not survive the child. Other circumstances that permit distant relatives or documented beneficiaries to file a claim may also be applicable.

Wrongful death claims cover a wide array of damages, including but not limited to: loss of household services, loss of companionship, loss of earning capacity, mental anguish, and loss of inheritance. All expenses (medical, funeral, etc.) associated with the death may also be recovered. Occasionally, punitive and/or exemplary damages can be sought if the conduct causing the wrongful death is deemed to have been due to the gross negligence or willful act/omission by the defendant.

The Survival Statue may also come into play if the decedent suffered personal injuries prior to his/her death. Basically, this cause of action allows the surviving family member or estate of the deceased to sue for injuries the deceased could have pursued if he/she had survived the incident. The estate may recover damages such as pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses – those damages to which the victim would have been entitled. When applicable, compensation under the Wrongful Death Statue and Survival Statue are pursued simultaneously.

Time is of the essence. Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date your loved one passed away. In some limited cases, the clock starts to run from the date your loved one’s fatal injury occurred. However, a surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased must file a lawsuit within three calendar months of the date of death, otherwise the executor or administrator of the estate must bring and prosecute the claim.

If you have questions surrounding the circumstances of your family member’s death and the amount of time associated with filing a claim, contact us immediately.

Setterberg Law Office