When someone is killed in an accident, because of another’s negligence, or even because of a wrongful act that was intentional, certain relatives of the decedent can file a “wrongful death” claim on their deceased loved one’s behalf. So, the next question is, “Who can file a wrongful death claim in Texas?” Meaning, which family members?
Under Texas law, the following surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim on their loved one’s behalf:
- The decedent’s surviving spouse
- The decedent’s surviving children, including adult and adopted children
- The decedent’s surviving parents
Note: An adopted child cannot file a wrongful death claim for a biological parent.
Anyone of the above individuals can file a wrongful death claim by themselves, or a group of them can decide to file a wrongful death claim altogether. “Can a surviving sibling file a wrongful death claim in Texas?” No, they cannot.
If the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, or parents fail to file a wrongful death claim within three months of the day the decedent died, the executor or personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death claim instead. However, if one of the above family members specifically asks the executor or personal representative NOT to file a wrongful death claim, the filing can be prevented.
When There is a Criminal Case
“What if there is a pending criminal case?” is a question that comes up often, especially in the case of a DWI accident or homicide that occurred on a commercial property or at a private residence. A wrongful death claim can still be filed, even if the state has filed criminal charges in connection with the victim’s death. So, a criminal case does not bar the surviving family members from filing a separate wrongful death lawsuit.
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can compensate the family for lost earning capacity on the decedent’s behalf, loss support, lost love, mental anguish, lost inheritance, etc. In Texas, a wrongful death lawsuit has to be filed within two years of the decedent’s death, with limited exceptions. To learn more, contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC.