Casket of a family member who was wrongfully killed
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There are few things worse than when you lose a loved one. This creates a hole in your family that can never really be filled. Compounding the hurt can be the fact that the death may have been the result of the wrongful act or negligence of another person. This may leave you with a lingering sense that the death could have been prevented. Fortunately, if you have lost a close relative due to the wrongful act, negligence, carelessness, unskillfulness, or other default of another person or entity, Texas gives you the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. If you fall into one of the categories of relatives empowered to bring this type of action, your experienced Texas personal injury attorney can help you file a lawsuit to hold the responsible party accountable, provided that you file it within the timing of the applicable statute of limitations.

What Is the Texas Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Actions?

In order to have standing to bring a Texas wrongful death claim, you must be the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased or the executor or administrator of such person’s estate. In general, you have two years from the date that your loved one died. This means that if he or she is involved in a serious car accident but dies afterward, the two years do not begin to run until the date of the death. This can be quite meaningful because many people who die as a result of a car accident, workplace injury, medical malpractice, or other causes may linger on for weeks or months. 

If you are planning to seek compensation for the wrongful death of your loved one, it is vital to keep this date in mind. Failure to file the lawsuit before the passing of the statute of limitations can literally be fatal to your claim. You should make this clear to the personal injury attorney whom you hire to represent you in this case.

Are There Any Exceptions to This Rule?

There are a number of different situations that act as exceptions to this two-year statute of limitations rule for wrongful death actions. Each of these can create a pause in the running of the two years, which is known as tolling. This will create a delay, giving you more time to file a lawsuit.

The first exception is for minor children. If a child loses a parent as a result of the wrongful conduct of another, he or she has two years from the date of turning 18 to file the lawsuit. While in most cases, a surviving parent or guardian may file the lawsuit on behalf of the minor, it does give them an opportunity once they reach maturity if the adult fails to file one beforehand.

Similarly, the two-year statute of limitations will be tolled for a person who is suffering from a physical or mental incapacity. In this situation, the two years do not start to run until such a person is deemed competent to file a lawsuit. This can be problematic if the incapacity is permanent.

Finally, the running of the statute of limitations will be tolled if the negligence or malpractice that was the proximate cause of death was not reasonably apparent. This is especially true when the responsible party takes steps to conceal their actions. In this case, the two-year period does not start until the plaintiff knew or should have known of the defendant’s involvement.

What Is the Statute of Repose for Wrongful Death Actions?

Even if you are covered by one of the exceptions that toll the statute of limitations, the time period to bring a wrongful death action is not unlimited. Texas has a statute of repose for wrongful death claims that requires any such action to be filed within 10 years of the death of your loved one. Therefore, if you are covered by one of the exceptions and the 10-year anniversary of your relative’s death is approaching, you should consider having your Texas personal injury attorney file a claim on your behalf. This will permit you to pursue a lawsuit against the party you believe was responsible for your loved one’s death.

If You Have Lost a Loved One as the Result of the Wrongful Conduct or Negligence of Another, Call Our Firm Today

Losing a loved one can be a very traumatic experience. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Hernandez Sunosky LLP can provide you with the representation you require in order to hold the party responsible for who caused your relative’s wrongful death.