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Texas Personal Injury News

Monday, December 18, 2017

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?

A wrongful death claim arises when a loved one is killed due to the fault of another person or entity. If the victim would have a personal injury claim if he or she would have survived, then a loved one will likely have a wrongful death claim.

Loved ones can recover damages for the loss of a family member, including:

  • Pain and suffering that occurred before death
  • Lost future earnings
  • Funeral and/or burial expenses
  • Loss of companionship
  • Other family-related losses
  • Loss of inheritance

Only certain family members can assert wrongful death claims, however. You must meet specific qualifications to submit a claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Only the parents, children, or the spouse of a deceased individual can file a wrongful death claim. Children can assert a wrongful death claim regardless of whether they are over the age of majority (18 years of age). There is no particular order in which family members must file. That is, no hierarchy applies; a child could file even though there is a surviving spouse, for example. Family members can choose to assert a claim alone or jointly.

Adoptive children can also file claims if their adoptive parent passes away. Adopted parents also have similar rights. However, adopted children cannot file a wrongful death claim after their biological parent passes away.

Siblings, aunts and uncles, and grandparents cannot file wrongful death claims in Texas. This is true even when the victim leaves no surviving children, parents, or a spouse.

When Does the Estate File a Wrongful Death Claim?

If none of the above family members assert a claim within three months of the loved one’s death, then an executor of the decedent can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate. If that type of situation occurs, then any compensation obtained goes into the estate and will be distributed according to the victim’s will or the intestate laws of Texas. This type of claim is actually referred to as a “survival claim,” and it is slightly different from a wrongful death claim under Texas law.

Who Receives Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim?

In most situations, any compensation that is recovered in a wrongful death claim will go to all of the surviving family members. A judge will often become involved to determine how the monetary benefits should be distributed. The division is also usually based on which family members who are the most affected by the loved one’s death.

For example, if the spouse depended a great deal on the family member for income, but parents did not, then the spouse is likely to take a larger portion of any compensation awarded. Your attorney will present the financial and personal losses suffered to show how much you need the compensation compared to other family members.

How Can I Get Help with a Wrongful Death Claim?

Deciding whether to assert a wrongful death claim either for yourself or on behalf of a loved one can be a difficult decision. You can get sound advice to make this tough choice from the attorneys at CMZLaw. Contact our team to request a consultation today.


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Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC has offices located in Houston and Lufkin Texas and serves clients throughout East Texas as well as many other states.
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