Wrongful death lawsuits occur when someone dies due to the negligence, carelessness, or deliberate and malicious actions of another person or party. They are separate from criminal charges and generally unrelated. They are a means by which the surviving family can collect compensation for the financial difficulties caused by the loss.
However, the rules for who can file such a suit, and the time limit they have during which to file the suit, differ between states, and taking the wrong actions can be costly. Learn the facts about who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, and why an experienced Texas wrongful death attorney is the key to getting damages.
WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?
As opposed to a criminal case, where the guilty party may be subject to penalties like a prison sentence, fines, probation or other sanctions, a wrongful death case is a civil suit. This means that the defendant can be held liable for the damages they have caused in a monetary sense.
There are no criminal penalties in a wrongful death suit, only financial awards. A wrongful death suit is also separate and distinct from any criminal case; in one the defendant may be found liable, while in the other they may be found innocent or guilty. The two have no bearing on one another, in a legal sense.
WHO CAN FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT?
Those who are permitted to file a wrongful death case vary state by state. In Texas, the right to do this defaults to the spouse, parents or children of the decedent. These parties have three months in which to file. After this, the executor of the will or other personal estate representatives may file a claim unless the family requests one not be filed.
In Texas, the term “children” extends to both adult children and adopted children if the child was completely, legally and fully adopted. However, an adopted child may not then claim wrongful death for their biological parent from whom they were adopted.
In a similar fashion, adoptive parents may file wrongful death claims on behalf of their adopted children.
Finally, siblings do not have the ability to file such a claim in Texas.
There are a variety of damages to which you may be entitled under a wrongful death case. These include lost financial support in terms of earning capacity of the deceased; lost emotional support, relationships, comfort and advice; mental anguish; pain and suffering; lost companionship; lost inheritance, and more.
In some cases, punitive damages may be granted, if the person who caused the death acted in a truly egregious fashion.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The statute of limitations is a time frame during which the suit must be filed to be seen as valid by the courts. In Texas, this timeframe is within two years after the date of death, unless specific exceptions are met.
If you’ve suffered such a loss and need help with more information on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas, or the timeframe you have, contact the Corpus Christi lawyers at Bandas Law Firm, P.C. for a free consult today.