When a person is killed as the direct result of a negligent or intentional act, surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim. The purpose of such a claim is to seek compensation for the economic and non-economic losses they have suffered as a result of the death. Because the intent of a wrongful death claim is to ease the burden the death has placed on survivors, Texas law only allows the spouse, parent, or child of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim. No other family members may file a wrongful death claim in Texas.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
When a wrongful death claim is warranted following a fatal accident, the deceased’s spouse, parents, or children may file a claim either individually or as a group. The deceased’s siblings and grandparents are barred from filing a claim. The following rules apply to children of the deceased:
- Adult children may file a wrongful death claim when a parent is killed.
- Children who were legally adopted by the deceased may also file a wrongful death claim.
- A parent may file a wrongful death claim over the death of a legally adopted child.
The purpose of wrongful death settlements is to make up for losses suffered by those who were financially and emotionally dependent upon the deceased. Generally speaking, married couples and parents and children have such interdependent relationships.
If no claim is filed by an eligible party within three months, a wrongful death claim may be filed by the executor of the deceased’s estate. This is intended to compensate dependents when no spouse, parent, or child exists. However, an eligible family may block the estate from filing such a claim.
Determining Who Will Get What
The court will determine how a wrongful death settlement will be distributed among the claimants in proportion to the damages they sustained. Usually, attorneys for the plaintiffs will demonstrate their financial and emotional losses to receive fair compensation for their clients. For example, a minor child is entirely dependent upon a parent and would receive more compensation than a financially independent parent of the deceased.
A Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help
From determining whether there is cause for a wrongful death claim to representing the plaintiff’s interests in court, an experienced wrongful death attorney will be a valuable asset when you are suffering the loss of a loved one. Call the Button Law Firm to learn more about wrongful death in Dallas, Houston and Midland.