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What You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Lawsuits in Texas

Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on Aug 10, 2017 in Wrongful Death

man placing flower on a graveThe sudden death of a loved one is a tragic event that is made all the more devastating if it could have been avoided.

If you have lost someone you love because of another’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party to hold that person or corporation liable your pain and suffering.

However, only certain parties directly related to or dependent on the decedent can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. For this reason, it may be in your best interest to consult with a trusted wrongful death attorney in Fort Worth to help you determine if you are legally able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party that caused your loved one’s untimely death.

What is Considered a Wrongful Death in Texas?

Under Texas’ wrongful death statute, any death caused by a wrongful act, unskillfulness, neglect or default of another person or corporation is considered to be a wrongful death, according to Title 4, Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

This means a wrongful death lawsuit can apply to any situation in which a person was killed because of another person or corporation’s negligent or intentional actions, such as:

  • A car accident caused by a negligent driver
  • A defective product
  • Medical malpractice, such as a misdiagnosis, failure to diagnose, surgical error, medication error or negligent care

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas?

A wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by certain members of the decedent’s direct family, which include the decedent’s:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Adoptive child, if the child was fully and legally adopted by the decedent
  • Adoptive parent, under certain circumstances

However, Texas law does not allow the surviving siblings or grandparents of the decedent, whether biological or adopted, to file a wrongful death claim.

Eligible members of the decedent’s family may file a claim individually or together.

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Texas has a two-year statute of limitations in which the decedent’s family members must take action to file a wrongful death claim, according to Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.003(b).

If none of the decedent’s family members choose to file a claim within three months of his or her death, an executor of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit on his or her behalf. However, any family member who is entitled to file a claim may block the estate at any time from filing such a claim.

The deadline to file a wrongful death claim begins on the date the decedent’s death occurred. If you fail to meet this two-year timeframe, you will lose the right to recover compensation.

Our attorneys are ready to assist you with your wrongful death claim and will work to ensure your claim is properly handled and meets each deadline required by the state.

What Damages Can I Pursue in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is intended to provide compensation to family members who were financially dependent upon the decedent.

If you are able to file a wrongful death claim under Texas’ law, you may be able to recover compensation for losses such as:

  • Lost earning capacity caused by the decedent’s death
  • Lost care, maintenance, services, support, advice and counsel the decedent would have provided
  • Mental and emotional anguish
  • Pain and suffering caused by the decedent’s untimely death
  • Lost love, companionship, comfort and social dependence
  • Lost inheritance, including what the decedent would have saved and left to his or her surviving family members if he or she had lived

Texas also allows family members to be awarded punitive damages if the decedent’s death was caused by the at-fault party’s intentional actions or gross negligence. However, these are not meant as compensation for the decedent’s untimely death, but rather as a way to penalize the at-fault party.

When damages are awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit, a court will divide the amount among the decedent’s surviving family members in proportion to the suffering each has endured as a result of the decedent’s untimely death.

Our attorneys will review your claim to help you determine the compensation you may be owed for your loved one’s unexpected death.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Fort Worth

A lawsuit for the wrongful death of a loved one often becomes complicated and may involve several entities, such as insurance companies and attorneys representing the at-fault party.

The complexity of such a claim often requires the help and guidance of a qualified attorney to help represent your interests during this time.

Stephens, Anderson & Cummings’ skilled wrongful death attorneys are ready to review your claim during a free, no obligation consultation to find out if you are entitled to compensation for the death of your loved one.

We will fight to hold the at-fault party liable for the pain and suffering you have endured at no upfront cost for our legal services. You will only have to pay us if we recover compensation for your claim.

Call (877) 920-9009 to speak with our dedicated wrongful death attorneys today.