Six Facts You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Cases in Texas
If you have lost a loved one because of a corporation or individual’s negligence, you may be considering possible legal action through a wrongful death case. At Reynolds & Reynolds, we take wrongful death cases because we understand how important it is to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Before embarking on this legal journey, we want to ensure that our clients understand the state-specific facts about these types of cases. That’s why we want to provide you with these six essential facts about wrongful death cases in Texas.
The Texas definition of wrongful death states that certain family members may file a claim if the death was caused by the carelessness, neglect, wrongful act, unskillfulness or default of another person or corporation. That means that a wrongful claim may exist due to hospital malpractice, a distracted driving accident or a wide array of other incidents resulting from negligence. It is also critical to remember that Texas only allows certain parties to file a wrongful death claim.
Those eligible to file a claim must be members of the decedent’s family. However, not all family members are legally allowed to file. Eligible family members include the surviving spouse, children and parents of the decedent. In some cases, an adoptive child will be able to file, just as adoptive parents may file a wrongful death claim for their adopted child.
Siblings of the decedent are ineligible to file a wrongful death claim in the state of Texas. Instead, one of the aforementioned surviving family members must bring forth the claim to incite legal action.
Types of damages awarded in these claims exist to compensate surviving family members. Depending on how the claimant is related to the decedent, these types of recoverable damages will often vary. The most common damages include mental anguish and lost inheritance, household services, care, support, guidance, counsel, love or companionship. In some cases of gross negligence, the family may recover punitive damages to punish the defendant and to send a message that will hopefully prevent a similar act from occurring again in the future.
Survival damages can also be an essential part of a wrongful death claim. Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code allows recovery of damages for the decedent’s estate in addition to familial compensation. These survival damages represent damages the decedent would have been able to recover in a lawsuit had they survived the incident. This can include damages like the physical or mental pain the decedent experienced before their death. Any medical expenses incurred while trying to save the decedent may also be included in the category.
The Statute of Limitations in Texas requires that all wrongful death cases be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. While there are a few exceptions to this rule, it is best to file the lawsuit within this two-year period to maintain eligibility. However, for medical malpractice or healthcare liability the statute of limitations may be two years from the date of negligence that caused the injury or illness that resulted in death.
As with other legal matters, these types of cases can vary significantly based upon individual circumstances and events. It is prudent to meet with an attorney before filing to discuss your specific situation and concerns. The legal team at Reynolds & Reynolds would love to work with you to bring forth justice for your lost loved one. For more information about our services, or to set up a consultation, visit us online at https://rrlfirm.com/ or give us a call today (972) 684-5011.
Reynolds & Reynolds Law Firm | Wrongful Death TX | (972) 684-5011