The O’Hara Law Firm represents a family in their wrongful death claims against the driver of an 18-wheeler and his employer. A young man was driving on a highway in Eastern Texas to visit his fiancé and their young daughter when he died in a head-on collision with a semi-truck. The truck was speeding down the highway moments before the collision occurred. The daughter and parents of the deceased have wrongful death claims under Texas law.
Texas Wrongful Death Plaintiffs
The Texas Wrongful Death Statute is located in Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. The only family members who may bring a wrongful death claim for the death of a loved one are the spouse, parents, and children. Adopted children and parents have claimed as long as the adoption was completed before the date of death. Siblings do not have claims for the death of a brother or sister. The family members who have a claim must survive until the time of trial. For instance, if the parent of a deceased dies before trial, that parent’s claim is no longer valid. The common claims recoverable for family members are the following:
- Mental anguish
- Lost care, support, guidance, or counsel
- Lost love or companionship
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost inheritance (extra inheritance had the decedent reached full life expectancy)
- Lost household services
The estate of the decedent also has a claim for the decedent’s claims that he or she would have been able to bring had he or she survived. This claim is called a survival claim. The damages recoverable under a survival claim are pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical bills, and burial costs. If the decedent died instantly without awareness of his impending death, the pain and suffering claim would be very little or nothing. If the decedent suffered in the hospital for a long period of time, the pain and suffering claim could be quite large.
Texas Wrongful Death Claims
A defendant is liable for injuries that cause a person’s death if the injury was caused by the defendant’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. A defendant is also liable if its agent’s or employee’s acts cause the death. The Texas Wrongful Death Statute has specific provisions allowing claims against owners and operators of railroads, steamboats, stagecoaches, and other vehicles for transporting goods or passengers.
Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In Texas, the deadline to file a lawsuit for a wrongful death claim is generally two years. There are very few exceptions. It is important to speak with an attorney well before the two-year deadline, so the attorney has ample time to research potential defendants and file the lawsuit.
Attorney Patrick O’Hara has handled cases for clients who had family members pass away as the result of the bad acts of people or businesses. If you believe that you may have a potential wrongful death claim, contact the O’Hara Law Firm for a free consultation. The O’Hara Law Firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis, so we do not get paid unless you receive compensation.