When someone is killed because of another person’s or entity’s negligence, certain surviving family members can file what is called a “wrongful death” lawsuit, a breed of personal injury claim. Essentially, the surviving family members are seeking the damages the decedent or accident victim would have been able to collect in a personal injury lawsuit had he or she survived the fatal accident.
Relatives file wrongful death claims in a variety of situations, such as car accidents, medical malpractice, surgical malpractice, amusement park accidents, assaults that turn deadly, accidents on other people’s property, dog bites and attacks, swimming pool drownings, and so on. Sometimes, there can be a separate criminal case pending against the at-fault party, but that does not bar the victim’s surviving family members from filing a separate wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Each state has its own laws regarding who can and cannot file a wrongful death claim. In Texas, the following surviving relatives can file a wrongful death claim:
- Surviving spouse
- Decedent’s children (biological and adopted)
- Decedent’s parents
If you notice, the decedent’s siblings, aunts and uncles, or even grandchildren are NOT on the list. Even if the decedent’s parents were deceased, the decedent was single, and the decedent never had any children, his or her brother or sister still would NOT be able to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
Under Texas law, the eligible family members (mentioned above) can file a wrongful death claim alone, some of them can file it as a group, or all of them can file the claim together.
If the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, or parents do not file a wrongful death claim within three months of the death, the executor or personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim, unless one of the eligible family members asks them not to.
Note: An adoptive child can file a claim on behalf of an adoptive parent, but an adoptive child cannot file a claim for a biological parent.
We hope this article answered any questions you had about siblings and wrongful death claims. To file a wrongful death claim, contact Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC!