The sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one is always tragic. When the death involves your spouse, parent, or child, the pain can be unbearable. Texas law recognizes this pain and allows residents to sue for wrongful death caused by negligence or reckless behavior.
While there is little a lawsuit can do for your pain and grieving, a wrongful death claim can help you with the financial challenges that followed the death of a parent, child, or spouse. These include lost wages, funeral expenses, and bills for counseling.
However, there is a time limit in which a wrongful death claim can be filed. This is called a statute of limitations. Once expired, you will be unable to seek compensation for your loved one’s death.
Here is what you need to know about the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Texas.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Texas statute 16.003 states that a person must bring suit no later than two years after the incident that resulted in their loved one’s death. This means if you lost a spouse, parent, or child to an accident, you have only two years to file a wrongful death claim.
Once that two-year limit runs out, you lose the right to seek compensation for damages caused by your loved one’s death.
This is why it is so important that you seek out a qualified wrongful death attorney as quickly as possible.
Overcoming the Reluctance to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
People are always reluctant to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is especially true for family members who have lost loved ones to an accident or injury. This reluctance is also completely understandable.
The months following the death of a child, parent, or spouse are a time of absolute emotional turmoil. Family members feel grief, pain, and even guilt as they adjust to life without their loved one. They may feel that seeking compensation for their loved one’s death may be disrespectful or that placing a dollar amount on the death of their loved one is unthinkable.
Families may want to avoid wrongful death lawsuits as they feel it will delay the closure they are seeking or that forgiving the negligent party may help them move on.
All of these are valid experiences.
One thing we try to remind clients of is that when you file a wrongful death claim, you are actually filing the lawsuit on behalf of yourself on your surviving family members. You are seeking damages you and your family suffered as a result of your loved one’s death, not for the death itself.
As such, you are demonstrating the value and impact your loved one had on your life. Value that is now gone in their absence.
From the income your loved one may have provided to the love, companionship, and emotional support they certainly gave you, your loved one’s contributions to your life had value. Value you and your family deserve compenstino for. And while money will not replace the contributions of your loved one, it can remove financial challenges and stress so you can focus on healing.
Are There Exceptions to the Texas 2-Year Limit on Wrongful Death Claims?
Just like other personal injury statutes, there are circumstances where the wrongful death statute of limitations is delayed or extended. This is known as “tolling the statute of limitations.”
Some instances in which the Texas statute of limitations for wrongful death can be tolled include:
- The plaintiff is a minor. If you lost a parent as a minor, the statute of limitations does not begin to run out until you turn 18 years old. As such, you will have two years after your 18th birthday to file a wrongful death claim. However, there is no requirement that you wait. Another parent or guardian can file a wrongful death claim on your behalf while you are still a minor.
- The negligence was not obvious. In instances where you can demonstrate you were reasonably unaware that another person or entity was responsible for your loved one’s death, the statute of limitations can be tolled to the time in which you became aware of their responsibility.
- You were incapacitated. If you were mentally or physically incapacitated at the time of your loved one’s death, your statute of limitations does not begin until you are once again legally competent. This is a common occurrence in instances where the plaintiff was injured in the same accident that claimed their loved one’s life.
- The negligence was concealed. If the person or party that caused your loved one’s death intentionally concealed their involvement, the statute of limitations can be tolled. Your statute of limitations will begin on the date you found out about the fraud.
Filing Sooner is Always Better
While two years may seem like a lot of time, it is in the best interest of you and your family that you file your wrongful death claim as soon as possible.
Beyond the statute of limitations, you also have to consider evidence and the legal process. Some evidence can deteriorate over time. The site of the accident where your loved one died will not stay untouched. Evidence can be lost and destroyed, even unintentionally. Witnesses’ ability to recall important details of the accident the took your loved one will lessen.
The defense will use all of these to dismantle your claim’s value or to dismiss your case completely.
When you call a wrongful death attorney, they have legal remedies that can help preserve evidence and witness accounts. An attorney can issue temporary restraining orders for physical items related to your case. They can record interviews with witnesses. They can even have experts investigate the scene of the accident.
Immediate action puts you and your family in the best position to recover maximum compensation.
Call a Texas Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Thomas J. Henry Law has helped clients across Texas win their wrongful death lawsuits. Whether your claim is against an individual or a large business or corporation, we have the experience and resources to ensure your case is handled aggressively and effectively.
Our attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to take your call. Also, because we work on a contingency fee basis, you pay us nothing unless and until we win your case. Call Thomas J. Henry Law now for your FREE CONSULTATION with a Texas wrongful death attorney.