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5 Facts About The Texas Wrongful Death Statute

Jun 13, 2023 | Wrongful Death

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Losing a loved one is an extremely difficult experience, and if it happens due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, it can be a traumatic experience. In Texas, the law protects the survivors of the deceased through the Texas Wrongful Death Statute. While many people may be aware of the statute, there are several lesser-known facts they may not know. In this post, we’ll discuss five points about the Texas Wrongful Death Statute that are less commonly known.

1. Not Everyone Is Eligible To File A Wrongful Death Claim.

Before Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code or the “Wrongful Death Act,” surviving family members could not sue negligent parties for compensation. Now, however, negligence cases involving wrongful death are compensable. Even so, some limitations and nuances still need to be discussed with your wrongful death attorney. Under the Wrongful Death Act, you may be able to file a claim if your case meets these two essential criteria:

    • You are a statutory beneficiary of the deceased (spouse, child, or parent only)

    • The defendant’s negligent or wrongful actions caused your family member’s death.

As per statute, siblings, divorced spouses, and grandchildren are not eligible to file wrongful death claims. Likewise, children of a biological parent whose legal parental rights were terminated cannot sue for damages. Unlike stepchildren and stepparents, however, they may take legal action if the adoption process has been completed.

2. Wrongful Death Claims Are Subject to Two Statutes of Limitations

In Texas, wrongful death claims are subject to two separate statutes of limitations. The first is the limitations period on the lawsuit a deceased person could have filed, generally two years from the date of injury. The second is the limitations period for the plaintiff’s wrongful death claim, two years from their loved one’s death date.

A few rare and limited exceptions apply to this rule, but it is best to assume that a lawsuit must occur before the two-year deadline has passed. Because wrongful death lawsuits are complex, it is best to talk to an attorney as early as possible to allow time for investigation and litigation.

3. Survival Damages Could Be Compensated For

Chapter 71 allows for recovery of damages for an estate when the decedent was not alive to bring suit. These are called survival damages. An example of such damage is if a loved one dies due to someone else’s negligence. The law allows recovery for the physical pain and suffering and mental anguish that the decedent experienced before dying. For instance, if a person died slowly due to a negligent accident, the law allows recovery. This recovery may be for mental anguish and pain and suffering pre-death. Also recoverable are medical expenses incurred in trying to save the decedent or burial expenses. Both of these are debts of the decedent’s estate, not surviving family members.

4. Not All Accidental Deaths Can Be Considered “Wrongful Death”

Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 71 defines wrongful death as the death of an individual caused by another party’s wrongful act, neglectfulness, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. For example, if a pedestrian passes away due to a driver’s negligence, “wrongful death” applies.

In Texas, a “wrongful death” happens when:

    • An injury causes a person’s death or a fetus’s failure to be born alive

    • The injury is due to another person’s or entity’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” and

    • The injured person would have filed a personal injury lawsuit had they lived or been born alive.

As with personal injury claims in general, many types of events can be the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit, including:

    • intentional acts (including crimes).

Negligence is the legal standard for many cases. Negligence does not require intent; it only requires that a person act in a way that causes harm to another. For example, drivers generally don’t intend to hurt anyone while on the road. However, they can still be liable for any resulting damages caused by their negligence.

Negligence is the failure to act with reasonable care expected of someone else in similar circumstances. Negligence can rest with a road user, property owner, or medical professional.

5. Wrongful Death Claims & Survival Actions Are Not the Same

In Texas, surviving family members may be able to file both wrongful death claims and survival actions.

A Wrongful death claim under Texas’s Wrongful Death Act allows family members to sue for damages when another person kills their loved one. This lawsuit aims to recover the “full value of the life” of the deceased individual. In other words, to receive damages, plaintiffs must prove that they suffer emotional and monetary injuries due to losing their loved one. If successful, family members can directly receive compensation for medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, and loss of companionship and financial support.

A survival action is a legal proceeding that can recover economic and non-economic damages on behalf of the decedent’s estate. In some cases, punitive damages are awarded as well. These damages represent the compensation the individual may have received if the accident hadn’t resulted in their death.Unlike a wrongful death case, damages go directly to the estate for distribution.

The Texas Wrongful Death Statute

The Texas Wrongful Death Statute is in place to compensate the surviving family members due to someone else’s negligent or reckless actions. However, understanding the statute is critical in successfully navigating a wrongful death lawsuit. With the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer like Walker Texas Lawyer, you may be able to claim the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and get started with your wrongful death case.

Why Hire Personal Injury Attorney – Walker Texas Lawyer

Losing a loved one due to someone else’s reckless actions is an emotional and traumatic experience. Walker Texas Lawyer understands the devastating impact of wrongful deaths. He is committed to securing justice and compensation for the survivors of the deceased.

You can expect experienced and aggressive representation when you hire Walker Texas Lawyer. He is a Houston Personal Injury Lawyer with over 40 years of experience. He has the legal knowledge, skills, and resources to handle even the most complex cases.

We offer a free case evaluation where you can speak to us about your case and ask any questions. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not pay anything unless we win your case.

At Walker Texas Lawyer, we are dedicated to fighting for your rights and securing the compensation you deserve. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact us today to schedule your free consultation and let us help you in your wrongful death lawsuit case.

CONTACT HOUSTON’S PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER, WALKER TEXAS LAWYER FOR HELP

For more information, contact Houston’s accident law firm of Walker Texas Lawyer by calling (713) 552-1117.

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James Walker - Walker Texas Lawyer James Walker is a Personal Injury Attorney in Houston, Texas. He has over 40 years of legal experience and has helped over 25,000 clients. This means he has demonstrated his extensive knowledge of legal procedures. He knows how to handle insurance companies. If insurance companies refuse to give you a fair shake, they will take the insurance companies to court. He knows the law inside and out. He knows what he’s doing.

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