Can You Bring a Wrongful Death Claim After the Loss of a Loved One?
When a loved one dies in a car crash or truck accident, your life changes forever. There’s nothing you can do to bring them back, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have real, tangible losses. They may have been your principal or sole provider. There may be significant, unreimbursed medical expenses from the injuries that caused their death. You have the right to recover compensation for the lost care, support, advice, and services they would have provided, as well as for mental and emotional pain and suffering, loss of companionship and comfort, and any lost inheritance.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in Texas?
Under Texas law, a death is considered “wrongful” if it’s caused by neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, default, or other wrongful act. Most wrongful death claims are based on negligence. To show negligence in a wrongful death case, you must prove that:
- A person acted unreasonably under the circumstances—for example, ran a red light or stop sign, was speeding, or veered over the center line;
- The person’s actions caused an accident; and
- The accident was the immediate or eventual death of your loved one.
Who Can Recover Compensation for a Wrongful Death in Texas?
The parties who may file a lawsuit for wrongful death are specifically identified in Texas statutes:
- A surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased all have legal standing to file a wrongful death claim. They each may file individually, or they may join together in one lawsuit. The right to file a wrongful death claim extends to the adult children of the decedent.
- The personal representative of the estate of the deceased has the legal right to bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the estate, but only if the surviving spouse, children, and parents fail to file a wrongful death lawsuit within three months of the date of death.
- An adopted child may recover damages in a wrongful death action for the death of the adoptive parent, but not for the death of a biological parent, provided the adoptee was fully and legally adopted at the date of death.
- Parents may seek compensation for the wrongful death of an adopted child, regardless of age, as long as the adoption has been completed at the time of death.
- Siblings have no standing in Texas to recover damages for the wrongful death of a brother or sister.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Texas offers a broad range of damages to survivors in wrongful death actions. In addition to the losses referenced above, you may also be able to seek compensation for “exemplary” damages. Those damages may be available if the defendant is found to have engaged in “gross negligence” or to have caused the death by “willful act or omission.” Exemplary damages are not based on actual losses but instead are meant as a form of punishment and a deterrent to others who might engage in similar behavior.
Contact the Proven Wrongful Death Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we know the devastating impact that the accidental death of a loved one can have on your life. We provide a free initial consultation to anyone with a potential wrongful death claim. To set up a meeting with an aggressive, results-oriented personal injury attorney, send us an e-mail or call us at 844-402-2992. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.