Who is allowed to bring a wrongful death claim in Texas?

While many people may suffer when someone dies prematurely, only a few individuals are permitted to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. Unlike most other civil lawsuits, in a wrongful death claim the injured individual isn’t the plaintiff. The only individuals who are permitted to sue are those who have legal standing, meaning that they have been directly harmed as a result of the wrongful death. Some of the ways a plaintiff may be harmed include loss of the deceased’s financial support, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of companionship. While there’s no way to make up for the loss of a loved one, a wrongful death claim can compensate those left behind for their losses. Liability is accounted for only in the form of monetary damages.

Legal Standing

The Texas wrongful death statutes allow certain individuals to bring suit for the damages they have sustained. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Title 4, Chapter 71 establishes that only the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, or parents have standing to file a wrongful death claim. An adoptive child may file a wrongful death claim for the death of his adoptive parent, but not for the death of his biological parent. Adoptive parents are permitted to file a claim if their adopted child dies, as well. Unadopted stepchildren, siblings, girlfriends, boyfriends, and grandparents do not have standing to sue, regardless of how close they may have been to the deceased.

Each of the qualified individuals may file his or her own separate claim, or they can file the claim together as a group. If no wrongful death claim has been filed within three months of the date of death, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file the claim instead. However, surviving family members do have the right to request that the wrongful death claim not be filed.

You Need an Attorney

If you have legal standing in a wrongful death claim, you need professional representation. To learn more about protecting your rights, contact the Cain Law Firm by using the form on this page.