The Texas wrongful death statute allows families who lost a loved one due to a preventable accident to pursue a claim for compensation against the responsible party. However, like all personal injury cases, families must bring a wrongful death claim within a certain amount of time. This is referred to as the statute of limitations.
The Texas personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. have extensive experience helping families pursue justice following a tragic accident. We effectively prepare our clients’ cases in a timely manner to avoid any potential issues regarding the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Texas.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Cases?
The Texas wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date that a family’s claim arises. However, determining when a claim arises is not always straightforward.
Certainly, in most wrongful death cases, a claim arises on the date of the victim’s death. Notably, this is not the same as the date of the accident, as a loved one may not necessarily pass away on the day of the accident.
However, there are situations where a claim does not arise until a later date.
Accidents Involving Parents of Minor Children
For children who lost a parent in a tragic accident, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child turns 18 years old. Thus, minor children who lose a parent have until they turn 20 to file a claim against the responsible party.
Of course, the law does not require a minor to wait until they turn 18 to file a case. For example, another surviving parent or the guardian of a minor can file a claim on a minor child’s behalf before they turn 18.
Claims Brought by Incapacitated Individuals
The wrongful death statute of limitations in Texas treats incapacitated individuals similarly to how it treats minor children. Thus, if you lost a loved one while you were either physically or mentally incapacitated, you have two years from the date you regain competency to file a wrongful death case.
This situation most often comes up when the person bringing the case was injured in the accident that claimed their loved one’s life. However, a disability that occurs after a claim arises will not toll the statute of limitations.
Cases Involving Concealed Negligence
Although rare, the person responsible for an accident might intentionally conceal facts that would put the victim’s surviving loved ones on notice that they may have a claim.
For example, this may come up in a medical malpractice wrongful death claim where the treating physician hides evidence of their own negligence. In this case, surviving loved ones have two years from the date they found out about the fraudulent concealment to file a case.
Situations Where Surviving Loved Ones Were Unaware of Negligence
The statute of limitations in a Texas wrongful death case begins when the person bringing the claim either knew or should have known that they potentially had a case against the at-fault party.
Thus, if a surviving loved one is unaware of the at-fault party’s negligence, the statute of limitations will not begin until they learn of the facts that give rise to a potential claim.
How to Initiate a Texas Wrongful Death Case
For families who lost a loved one in a tragic accident, it is important to act quickly. To initiate a Texas wrongful death claim, you must file a complaint within the applicable amount of time. Additionally, only certain parties can file a wrongful death case in Texas.
Under Texas law, the victim’s surviving spouse, children, or parents can bring a claim. However, if they do not file within three months, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file—unless all surviving family members request that they refrain from doing so.
An experienced Texas wrongful death attorney can help grieving families understand their rights and effectively pursue justice on their loved one’s behalf.
Have You Lost a Loved One in a Texas Accident?
If you recently lost a family member in a preventable accident, the attorneys at Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. can help.
Since 1984, the dedicated wrongful death lawyers at FCHC have provided compassionate yet aggressive representation to families across Texas. We take pride in every case we handle, and we work to ensure that our client’s cases are handled professionally at every step of the process.
We offer free consultations to all prospective clients, during which we can explain the recovery process, provide you with an honest assessment of your claim, and answer any questions you have.