A wrongful death can lead to serious repercussions for immediate family survivors. Whether from a car accident or some other scenario in which negligence or deliberate wrongdoing has been the cause, a wrongful death brings emotional shock and pain to those left behind.
It may also bring financial jeopardy if family members depended on the deceased for valuable income, benefits, or other economic support. Because of these repercussions, Texas has enacted a wrongful death law that allows surviving family members to pursue rightful compensation for their damages and losses from the responsible party through a claim or lawsuit, and our wrongful death attorneys are here to help.
About Wrongful Death Claims in Texas
A wrongful death claim or lawsuit is similar to a personal injury claim except that the person making a claim has died and the claim must now be put forward by surviving family members. Wrongful death claims are filed on behalf of the decedent and their estate, pursuing both economic and non-economic damages. These claims and lawsuits may be filed against another individual, such as a drunk driver, or against a business or corporation.
The surviving spouse of the decedent may file such a claim within the first year following the death. The surviving spouse, as well as the surviving children, may file such a claim during the second year after the death. In cases where no surviving spouse or children exist, a claim may be pursued by the decedent's parents. The representative of the decedent's estate may also file a claim to pursue certain damages for the estate.
Texas law allows an adopted child to file a claim on behalf of their adoptive parents as long as the child is an adult and fully and legally adopted by the parents. An adopted child, however, cannot file a claim on behalf of a biological parent. Likewise, adoptive parents may file a claim for an adopted child.
What Damages Are Available in a Wrongful Death Claim?
There are three main types of damages available in all personal injury cases: economic, non-economic, and punitive.
- Economic damages compensate for quantifiable losses such as medical bills and funeral expenses.
- Non-economic damages compensate for more abstract losses such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and future earning potential.
- Punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party rather than compensate for specific losses.
The main difference between a personal injury case and a wrongful death claim is how compensation is distributed. In an injury claim, compensation is typically awarded to the injury victim. In a wrongful death claim, damages may be awarded to surviving family members and the deceased's estate.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Texas is two years. This means a claim must be filed within two years from the date of death, or you may lose your right to pursue compensation. It is an important note that the date of death may not be the same as the date of injury.
Get the Support You Need During This Difficult Time With Help From Our Wrongful Death Attorneys
In the wake of a wrongful death, you may feel overwhelmed by your situation. You will need to understand your rights and options in order to take appropriate legal action. We provide diligent and dedicated service to the families and estates of those who have died under such painful circumstances.
Our wrongful death attorneys serve clients throughout Texas, including those in Houston, Pasadena, Baytown, Clear Lake, Webster, Friendswood, Deer Park, LaPorte, Texas City, League City, Galveston, Pearland, Spring, Katy, Channelview, Jersey Village, and Missouri City. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.