Discovering that your loved one’s death was preventable is an incredibly difficult realization to come to terms with, but learning this news months or even years later can be even more devastating.
The grief you may have thought had subsided can resurface with renewed intensity, disrupting your life all over again.
In situations like these, many people struggle with the idea of filing a wrongful death claim because they are uncertain if too much time has passed since the incident.
Some may not even consider filing a claim due to the time elapsed.
This article aims to shed light on the wrongful death statute of limitations in Texas and how it may impact your ability to pursue a claim.
What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is the maximum amount of time a person can initiate legal proceedings. They can raise a claim before this statute of limitations runs out.
The deceased’s family has a limited timeframe to file a lawsuit against those accountable for the wrongful death in question.
What is the wrongful death statute of limitations in Texas?
A wrongful death claim in Texas must be filed within two years of the incident, as per the statute of limitations. You must file a claim two years from the day your loved one passes. It is important to note that the day the statute of limitations begins is not the day of the incident but the day that your loved one passes.
This statute of limitations implies that you cannot claim after two years have passed. There are only exceptional circumstances where the statute of limitations can be tolled or paused, which we will go through next.
What are the exceptions to the statute of limitations?
Under certain circumstances, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim may be paused or tolled, meaning the two-year time limit is temporarily halted until specific conditions are met.
The plaintiff is a minor
If the plaintiff is a minor, they will have to wait until they turn 18 before filing a wrongful death claim for a parent. Although the statute of limitations starts on the minor’s 18th birthday, they may not have to wait that long to file a wrongful death claim.
Their second parent or guardian can file the claim on their behalf. It is best to consult a wrongful death lawyer who can help you understand this further.
The negligence was unknown
It is not uncommon for families to discover years after the fact that their loved one’s death was the result of negligence. This could be because the negligence was only discovered later or that it was intentionally hidden by the guilty party.
In these circumstances, the statute of limitations only begins when you discover the negligence involved in your loved one’s death.
You are incapacitated
If you are physically or mentally incapable of raising a wrongful death lawsuit after your loved one’s death, the statute of limitations will be tolled. The countdown will only begin when you are competent again. This is common when family members are in the same accident and suffer severe injuries.
Until they recover adequately, the statute of limitations will be tolled. You must consult a law firm like Reyes Browne, which has experienced personal injury lawyers and wrongful death lawyers that can help you get the settlement you deserve.
If much time has passed between the death and the claim, gathering all the evidence for your settlement will take a bit longer. There may be years’ worth of expenses to calculate. These costs are needed to determine how much you need to ask for in damages as part of your settlement.
The damages you can claim include economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages may also be applicable, depending on the case’s specifics. Our lawyers can provide a detailed explanation and guide you through the process to ensure a smooth and successful case.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In Texas, wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by a family member, such as a spouse, parent, child or sibling. Biological and adopted parents and children are also eligible to file a claim.
Yes, there are statutes of limitations on wrongful deaths in all states. However, the statute of limitations differs in different states. In all states, the minimum amount of time someone can file a claim is one year. The maximum limit ranges between one and three years. To determine the applicable statute of limitations in your state, it is essential to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
The exact circumstances that constitute wrongful death in Texas, according to Texas Statutes section 71.001, is a “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” that results in an otherwise preventable fatality.
It is hard to put a value on Texas's average wrongful death settlement because settlement values are so different. Each case has unique and specific damages and circumstances contributing to the settlement amount. When you look at the various factors that contribute to the damages you can claim, you will understand how settlements can range from a few thousand to millions of dollars. Thus, there is no average for wrongful death settlements. A lawyer can only give you an estimate after a consultation. Online calculators are rarely accurate because they do not collect all the necessary data.
Wrongful death lawsuits are often difficult because the family is grieving. It is hard to remain present enough to collect evidence. Even if you file a claim years later, it can still be challenging. The one thing you should always endeavor to have, and the first thing your lawyer will ask for, is a copy of your loved one’s medical records. This will hold the necessary evidence to prove wrongful death. In addition to this, any accident reports, eyewitness accounts, photos, medical bills and funeral costs will also help your case.
The best wrongful death lawyers in Texas
The Texas wrongful death statute of limitations is two years. This time starts from the moment your loved one passes away, or you discover that their death was due to negligence. In some cases, the statute of limitations may be tolled until a minor comes of age or an injured plaintiff recovers. No matter the situation, it is important that you contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can assist you with your case. The lawyers at Reyes Brown Reilly have over three decades of experience in this extremely challenging field, and know how to handle these cases with sensitivity and grace. They understand the importance of seeking the compensation you deserve and giving you the closure you need to honor your loved one. Get in touch with us today to discuss the next steps in your wrongful death lawsuit journey.