Yes, family members can sue the entity responsible for the wrongful death of their loved one.
Losing a family member, under any circumstances, is painful. It brings grief and resentment, and if someone’s diligence could have avoided the incident, it also brings the anger of injustice.
The victim’s surviving family members can recover financial damages on behalf of the deceased with the help of a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death attorney can offer legal assistance to help you.
How a Wrongful Death Claim Works
Wrongful death claims are outlined in Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. This rule states that certain surviving relatives have the legal right to pursue compensation when a family member dies due to the “wrongful action, negligence, carelessness, unskillfulness, or failure” of another person.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Claims in Texas?
Only the decedent’s spouse, children, or parents may pursue a wrongful death claim in Texas:
- Spouse: The surviving spouse has the right to sue for wrongful death.
- Children: The victim’s children by birth or adoption may file a wrongful death claim on the deceased’s behalf. Adopted children, however, cannot file a claim on their biological parents’ behalf.
- Parents: Adoptive parents have the same rights as biological parents to sue for wrongful death. Parents who have divorced may claim child support.
Who Can’t File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
The victim’s siblings, grandparents, and other family members cannot, unfortunately, sue for wrongful death on behalf of their loved ones in the state of Texas. Also unable to file a claim is the deceased’s long-term partner who was neither a spouse nor a common-law spouse. Stepparents and foster parents are also not permitted to bring wrongful death claims on behalf of their children.
In Texas, eligible family members who file wrongful death claims are awarded different types of financial compensation, based on the circumstances of the accident.
Financial Awards You May Be Entitled to in a Wrongful Death Settlement
In wrongful death claims, plaintiffs can ask for compensation that covers the decedent’s lifetime of support for the rest of their life had they survived. The amount and degree of any monetary or other compensation you may get in a wrongful death lawsuit, however, will depend on the particulars of your case.
Economic damages you could sue for include:
- Loss of wages
- Medical expenses
- Cost of treatment
Non-economic damages you could sue for include:
- Mental distress
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional agony
Compensatory damages are what the court awards when a plaintiff seeks monetary compensation for losses and injuries sustained as a consequence of an accident. Damage awards are intended to compensate for the plaintiff’s losses, which may have been monetary or intangible.
When a defendant’s carelessness was particularly egregious, the court may award both punitive and compensatory damages.
How Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Distributed?
After a wrongful death settlement has been established, the court will then:
- Determine who in your family should be compensated and how much.
- Limit the payout to the decedent’s immediate family.
- Give family members money, depending on how much they relied on the deceased.
Further legal action should be taken if the family cannot reach a resolution.
If your loved one has been killed in an automobile accident, consulting a wrongful death attorney can help you with legal proceedings.
How Long Does a Family Member Have to File for Wrongful Death After the Car Accident?
There is a two-year window in Texas to file a claim. The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim is two years, counted from the date of the decedent’s death. The right to sue for damages is permanently lost after the applicable statute of limitations has expired.
A claim may still be viable under certain conditions two years after the decedent’s death. However, if you submit it too late, the defendant might try to have your wrongful death claim thrown out of court. To be sure you don’t miss this deadline, you should talk to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
If no spouse, children, or parents survive the deceased, the estate’s claim must be submitted by the executor or personal representative within three months after the decedent’s death.
Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Can Help You File a Claim
Wrongful death cases are challenging. In the case of a fatal car accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will try to lower the money they have to pay. You want to choose a wrongful death attorney to guide you through the legal process.
At The Buzbee Law Firm, we provide a free first consultation so you may discuss your case with us. Our wrongful death attorneys will work hard to get you the best settlement possible. After a loved one passes away, you shouldn’t have to worry about money adding extra stress to an already difficult time. We pledge to make every effort to help you with your lawsuit.