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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Not everyone who suffered a loss can file a wrongful death suit. Texas law limits those eligible to bring this type of case. Discuss your legal options with a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. 

More than 200,000 people die each year in the United States due to unintentional injuries. Many of these tragic fatalities happen due to the conduct of others. Just like accident victims who survive can seek compensation for their injuries and losses.  Family members of lost victims can also seek compensation for their losses. 

Eligible Parties to File a Wrongful Death Suit

When your best friend suddenly dies because of someone else’s actions, you might feel like you suffered an immeasurable loss. However, the law does not allow just anyone to hold parties liable for wrongful death. Being close friends or having a special relationship is not enough to give you the right to compensation. 

Under Texas law, the following parties are qualified to file a wrongful death claim:

  • The Surviving spouse
  • Surviving children, including adopted children
  • Surviving parents, including adopted parents

Legal Immediate Family Relationship to File a Wrongful Death Claim

There must be a legal immediate family relationship to file a wrongful death claim. For example, an adopted child cannot recover for the wrongful death of a biological parent who no longer has parental rights. On the other hand, the biological parent cannot recover for the death of a child adopted by others.

Also, spouses must be legally married to qualify. A couple might be engaged and only a few days away from a wedding when tragedy strikes, but if they do not legally marry, the surviving partner cannot file a claim. The one exception is when a couple is a common law married. Which is recognized and called “informal marriage” in Texas. If a couple met the requirements for common law marriage prior to the death, the surviving common-law spouse has the right to file a wrongful death claim. 

If three months pass from the wrongful death, and none of the eligible family members file a claim. The personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a claim. This is true as long as the family members specifically request that no claim is filed. The personal representative is either:

  • Designated for the role in the deceased person’s will
  • If there is no will, designated by the probate court

Once you know you are an eligible party, you must make sure that you can prove the elements of wrongful death. This involves presenting evidence that another party was negligent to cause the death. 

Speak with a Spring, TX Wrongful Death Attorney

The best way to know your options after losing a close family member is to have a lawyer review your circumstances and provide advice. For a risk-free assessment of your situation and whether you can file a claim for wrongful death, schedule a consultation with the Holladay Law Firm now. We are committed to helping families like yours seek justice and find closure after a tragic loss.

 

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