Wrongful Death and Survival Actions in Texas
After the unexpected death of a loved one, legal definitions might be the last thing on your mind. Once some time has passed, however, you may want to explore your family’s legal options with a compassionate Austin wrongful death attorney. If your loved one died in circumstances such as a car wreck, slip and fall, workplace incident, or routine surgery, negligence may have played a role, and you might be eligible for compensation. Here’s what you should know about wrongful death claims and survival actions in Texas.
Wrongful Death and Survival Actions Are Not One and the Same
Wrongful death and survival actions are two entirely separate types of legal recourse for the negligence-related death of a loved one. A single family may have grounds to file both types of actions with the Texas courts. It is important to understand the difference between these two actions so that you and your family know what to expect during proceedings. Here are the basics:
- Wrongful death claim. Texas makes wrongful death lawsuits open to the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased person. The purpose of this type of suit is to recover damages the surviving relatives suffered as a result of the death. Damages can include medical bills up to the date of death, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of the individual’s love, companionship, guidance, and financial support. The plaintiffs receive these damages directly.
- Survival action. The goal of a survival action is to compensate the estate of the deceased person for the losses the individual suffered prior to death. This may include pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and property damage costs. The damages in a survival action are similar to the damages the individual may have received had the accident not resulted in his or her death. Damages go to the estate of the deceased for distribution, not directly to surviving family members.
A family can pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim, a survival action, or both types of action. Your family may have grounds to file both types of action if someone else caused your loved one’s death, your loved one suffered damages, and your family sustained losses as well. A skilled Austin personal injury lawyer experienced in wrongful death claims will be able to help you differentiate between the two actions and file paperwork for either or both types.
About Texas Wrongful Death Laws
A main law that will come into play during a survival action is the Texas Survival Statute. This statute gives those who survive the death of a person the right to file a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of the person who passed away. Another important law is the Texas Wrongful Death Act. Under this act, surviving relatives of the deceased can pursue compensation through legal action. Unfortunately, the current law does not allow damages to go to a deceased spouse, child, or parent.
There are strict deadlines for pursuing legal actions after the death of a loved one. You have two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. There are exceptions to this rule, so talk to an attorney before assuming you’ve missed the statute of limitations. The best way to maximize your odds of compensation after the sudden death of a family member is to speak with an attorney who specializes in wrongful death and survival actions.