There is often nothing as traumatic in life as losing a close member of the family, whether it is a parent, sibling, or a child, but it becomes ever more difficult to process this loss when it is sudden, unexpected, and due to the fault or negligence of someone else.
Wrongful death in Texas is defined as a death due to the carelessness, unskillfulness, neglect, or negligence of another person or corporation. A wrongful death encompasses situations ranging from a drunk driving wreck, medical malpractice, defective products, distracted driving, just to name a few.
In these cases, Texas law allows certain individuals to bring forth a wrongful death claim. These claims may be brought forward in order to hold individuals or businesses accountable, to get answers surrounding a loved one’s death, to right injustices, or to try and ensure that no other family suffers a similar tragedy.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Texas, only certain family members may bring forth a wrongful death claim following the loss of a loved one. This includes the surviving spouse, children, and the parents of the deceased. Legally adopted children may also bring forward a claim—although adopted children may not file a claim for a biological parent. Any one of these individuals may file a wrongful death claim or a group of them may file it together.
If the above individuals do not file a claim within three months of the date of death, then the personal representative or executor of the estate may file the claim, unless a surviving family member has specifically requested that no such claim be filed.
It is important to note, however, that Texas law does not allow siblings to file a wrongful death claim for the loss of a brother or sister, regardless of whether they are biological or adopted.
Damages for Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims exist to help a family compensate for their losses following the death of a loved one. These damages vary and much depends on whether the deceased is a spouse, parent, or child.
Most often these damages include mental anguish, lost earning capacity, lost inheritance, lost household services or care, support, guidance, and even lost love and companionship.
If the act was done willfully or by gross negligence it may be possible to recover punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant and send a message to ensure such cases do not happen again.
In addition to compensating surviving family members for their loss, Texas law also allows for the recovery of survival damages by the estate of the deceased, which includes pain and suffering prior to their death. Examples of this include if the person was gravely injured and was taken to the hospital for some time prior to their passing. Medical and burial expenses are also included in this category of damages.
Statute of Limitations
Every potential wrongful death claim has a time limit, or statute of limitations, whereby the surviving family members are permitted to bring forth their claim. In the state of Texas, these lawsuits are limited to two years following their death.
Because wrongful death lawsuits are complex matters, it is important that you speak with an experienced Houston wrongful death lawyer like the team at Fears Nachawati. Having a knowledgeable and compassionate attorney on your side can make all the difference as you attempt to put your life back together following a devastating loss.
A Houston wrongful death attorney, like Fears Nachawati, is here to help you ensure that justice is served. Give them a call at (866) 705-7584, or pay them a visit at their Dallas office on Greenville Avenue. Offices are also available in Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.