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Filing a Wrongful Death Action in Texas: Who Can Collect Damages?

A wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of another person's or entity's neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness or the nonperformance of a duty. In Texas, wrongful death can also include the death of an unborn child. The injury must be the proximate cause of death to the victim. 

The parties allowed to file a wrongful death action and collect damages are the survivors of the deceased victim such as a spouse, a child or a parent. A claim for wrongful death will be allowed to proceed if the deceased would have been entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit had they lived or, in the case of a fetus, been born alive. 

In a successful wrongful death lawsuit, the court may award damages to the surviving family members for their losses. The following are some examples of wrongful death damages:

  • Lost financial support  Lost income includes the amount of money earned over the life expectancy of the victim that would have gone to maintaining and supporting the family had the victim not died.
  • Loss of consortium  A claim for loss of consortium includes monetary damages for loss of sexual relations and loss of companionship.
  • Funeral and burial expenses  The costs of funeral services for the victim may also be claimed by the survivors.

According to Texas law, if the surviving spouse, children or parents of the victim do not file a wrongful death claim within three months after the death, the decedent’s executor or personal representative may bring the lawsuit unless all of the surviving family members specifically request that it not be filed.

Another type of lawsuit that can be filed after an untimely death is a survival action. Under a Texas statute, the heirs, legal representatives or estate of the victim can bring an action in behalf of the deceased. In other words, any personal injury claim that the decedent could have brought against the negligent party “survives” their death and can move forward.

Survival action damages include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. Any awarded damages go directly to the decedent’s estate and are distributed according to the decedent’s will or according to the laws of intestacy.

Lawsuits seeking damages for a person’s death can be complex, and an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.

If you have lost a loved one in Texas due to the negligence or intentional act of another, contact the Leland Reinhard Law Firm in Cleburne today to schedule a free consultation by calling 817-645-5400 or by using the online contact form.