Motor vehicle travel remains a leading cause of injury and death across the United States. Crashes claimed the lives of roughly 10 people across the state of Texas every day, according to data from 2018. If you have recently lost a loved one in a crash caused by another driver, you may wonder what rights you have and if you can seek justice for your tragic loss.
Texas does have laws that allow people who get hurt by other people’s negligence or wrongful acts to bring legal action against the responsible parties. In fact, Texas extends those rights to surviving family members in the event that one person’s actions caused the death of someone else. Wrongful death actions or claims allow surviving dependent family members to seek financial compensation from someone who causes a fatal collision.
Who has the right to bring wrongful death claims under Texas law?
Unfortunately, you can’t just take legal action on behalf of your favorite cousin if they die, as the statutory rights in most cases fall to immediate family members. Under Texas code, it is usually either the spouse or surviving children of someone who dies that have the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
However, parents can also bring lawsuits in the event that someone has no children or is not married. In situations where there are no immediate family members to take action on behalf of the deceased, it is also possible for a representative of the estate to take action against the person responsible on behalf of the estate itself.
There is a statute of limitation that applies to wrongful death cases
Once you determine that your relationship with the deceased person is appropriate for a wrongful death claim, the next step is to take action in a timely manner. Texas limits how long people have to bring a financial claim against someone, which means that you should initiate proceedings as soon as possible.
Only in unusual or rare situations will someone have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim after two years, such as a child who was a minor until the statute passed. In most cases, people must bring the claim within two years of the date of death or forfeit their right to seek compensation under the statute.