A statute of limitations is a law which sets a maximum amount of time parties have to initiate legal proceedings from the date the offense occurred. In personal injury law, this essentially is a time limit you have to file your personal injury claim.
While you may think you have a longtime to file a claim that deals with a tragedy as great as a wrongful death, the statute of limitations for filing such a claim is actually based on the precipitating event and not on the damages that occurred (i.e. the death of a loved one). That is why it is so important to contact an attorney as soon as an accident resulting in death occurs.
How Long Do I Have to File My Claim?
As mentioned, the statute of limitations is actually based on the event that caused the death and not the damages. In a car accident, for example, the statute of limitations would be two-years, regardless whether or not the accident resulted in death.
This two-year limit is typical for personal injury accidents that result in death in Texas, and the statute of limitations applies to both lawsuits filed on behalf of the deceased (a survival action) and lawsuits filed on behalf of the loved ones of the decedent (a wrongful death claim).
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
In Texas, a wrongful death claim can only be filed by spouses, children, and parents of the deceased. When a wrongful death claim is filed, the spouse, child, or parent is seeking damages caused by the loss of their loved one.
Damages often cited in a wrongful death claim include:
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of love and emotional support
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of society
Following a fatal accident, family members may also be able to pursue a survival claim. The name can be confusing at first as the claim is actually filed for a person who has passed away, but understanding the purpose of the claim also helps to explain its title.
When a survival claim is filed on behalf of a deceased person, the victim’s family is essentially asserting that:
- The person died because of the defendant’s negligence.
- This negligence caused pain and suffering to the person before they died.
- Had the person survived, he or she would have been able to pursue legal action against the defendant to recover compensation for pain and suffering.
- The defendant should not be able to avoid liability for pain and suffering just because the person died.
- The pain and suffering damages should be paid to the deceased person’s estate.
In addition, a survival claim can also seek damages for medical costs associated with hospital stays and medical procedures procured prior to the victim’s death as well as funeral and burial expenses.
Under Texas law, a deceased person’s legal heir or estate representative can bring a survival action. In instances where there is no legal beneficiary to file a claim, relatives may pursue the action jointly.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of an individual, company, or other entity, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced wrongful death attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends to talk with you and your family about your potential case. At Thomas J. Henry, we offer a free case review, and you don’t owe a thing unless we win your case. Our results speak loudly of our success in obtaining successful verdicts, settlements, and judgments for our clients. Let us help you and your family recover the compensation you deserve.