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Legal Blog

Claims for Wrongful Death of a Child in Texas

Before Texas passed its wrongful death statute, parents could not recover any damages for the death of their child, even if the person who caused the death acted negligently. Now, parents can sue the person or company that caused the death of their child and claim compensation for a wide range of damages.

Nothing can prepare you for the death of your child, just as nothing can fill the gap they leave behind when they’re gone. Fortunately, child wrongful death claims can bring the responsible parties to justice and help you and your family begin to move on with your lives.

How a Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help You in These Tragic Times

It can feel impossible to move forward after the sudden loss of a loved one. However, if your loved one has been fatally injured and it was someone else’s fault, you face an unanticipated future and a number of legal questions. We can help.

The Krist Law Firm, P.C. provides services from top-notch Houston wrongful death attorneys who understand the tragedy you are facing. They listen compassionately to your story and pursue the most beneficial outcome possible. While money cannot bring back a child, it can allow survivors the time to grieve and put their lives back together without worrying about paying the bills.

The process of recovering a settlement or a jury award in a wrongful death claim can be legally complex and emotionally exhausting. That’s why our personal injury lawyers in Houston at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. are ready to be at your side, guiding your decisions. We can guide you through the process while advocating fiercely on your behalf.

Understanding the Texas Wrongful Death Act

When someone dies in Texas, only their spouse, child, or parent can bring a wrongful death claim. These claims cannot be brought by anyone else except for the personal representative of the estate of the deceased, even if you are seeking financial recovery after the wrongful death of your sibling, grandchild, or nephew.

Texas deliberately selected the narrowest category of family members who can bring a wrongful death claim for the death of a relative. In addition to establishing your relationship with the deceased, your ability to successfully sue depends on the alleged actions of the person who caused their death.

Sometimes called the Texas Wrongful Death Act, the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code §71.002 describes wrongful death as the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” resulting in the death of a person. As the plaintiff bringing the wrongful death lawsuit against the alleged defendant, you and your personal injury attorney must be able to present robust evidence that the defendant’s wrongful, negligent, or reckless actions caused your child’s death.

A wrongful act is typically willful conduct that causes a death, such as deliberately striking the victim. People can also be responsible under the Wrongful Death Act for acting with less care than a reasonable person would in similar circumstances. Actions like these are considered negligence or acting with an unreasonable disregard for the safety of others. It is also often referred to as recklessness.

Ways the Wrongful Death of a Child Can Occur

The unexpected and wrongful death of a child can occur in a wide range of scenarios. Anywhere a child can be, they could be at risk of fatal injury from negligent individuals. For example, children may suffer fatal injuries in situations such as:

  • Accidents at sporting events
  • All-terrain vehicle (ATV) accidents
  • Defective products
  • Medical malpractice
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Train, bus, or aircraft crashes
  • Truck accidents
  • Wrecks caused by speeding or drunk driving

This list is far from exhaustive. If your child has died and you have concerns that someone’s negligence or bad conduct was the cause, you should speak with an experienced Houston personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The earlier they begin working on your case, the more prepared you will be to handle the situation.

What’s the Difference Between Wrongful Death Claims and Survival Actions in Texas?

The state of Texas allows for two different legal actions after someone has passed away as a result of another person’s negligence or carelessness. In certain circumstances, a family may be eligible to file both a wrongful death claim and a survival action. However, each filing has different requirements and limitations, so working with an experienced wrongful death attorney will be critical.

Wrongful Death Claims

After the death of a child, a wrongful death action is most commonly brought by the parents. They can seek to recover an amount equal to the “full value of life” of the child, addressing the family’s emotional and financial damages. The compensation will be paid directly to the family members in the form of economic and non-economic losses, as well as any applicable punitive damages.

Parents can request reimbursement for medical bills, funeral and interment expenses, and even lost income if the child brought in financial support for the family. Again, any damages are paid to the family members directly so they can manage the damages from the loss.

Survival Actions

A survival action may serve as an extension of an existing personal injury lawsuit that was ongoing prior to the child’s death. For example, if the child was severely injured during a sports competition and passed away from their injuries after a few months, the family may already have a lawsuit in progress. After the death, the legal representative for the child’s estate may file a survival action under the same statute governing wrongful death claims.

The compensation for damages such as medical bills, therapy, and the deceased’s pain and suffering they experienced can still be awarded. In addition, the survival action can request funeral and burial expenses. However, unlike a wrongful death claim, the financial relief will go to the estate for distribution. Survival actions for children are rare but may be warranted in certain situations. Speak with your attorney to understand whether this applies to your case.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims

In Texas, wrongful death claims are a kind of personal injury lawsuit and are subject to the statute of limitations for these cases, which is two years from the date of death. This is an extremely short length of time, legally speaking, since preparation for a trial can be very time-consuming. While this time limit is often extended for minors, your attorney will need to investigate the case, gather and analyze evidence, and develop compelling arguments against the defendant, and that happens best as soon as possible after the incident.

If you wait too long to hire a reputable attorney, you will risk being unable to file your case on time. Missing the deadline means you will lose your chance to seek justice for your child through the courts. Once you have lost this opportunity, it cannot be reclaimed. This is why it’s best to secure qualified legal representation from The Krist Law Firm, P.C. as quickly as possible.

If there are extenuating circumstances that could lengthen your time to file, such as the fact that your child is a minor, your lawyer will be able to research them and advise you.

Damages Available to Families Under the Texas Wrongful Death Act

Damages in a personal injury lawsuit are meant to provide a means of compensating the plaintiff for the losses they experienced as a result of the defendant’s negligence or malicious actions. For the wrongful death of a child, a monetary settlement or award is meant to allow the child’s surviving family members to grieve and face the drastically altered future that no longer includes their loved one.

Texas law allows parents to seek damages in the following categories:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial, cremation, and interment costs
  • Loss of the deceased family member’s earning capacity, support, and care provided to the family
  • Mental anguish caused by the tragedy
  • Loss of love, comfort, and companionship
  • Punitive damages, if a person’s willful misconduct or gross negligence caused your son or daughter’s death

When the actions of the at-fault party were especially heinous, negligent, or malicious, your attorney can request punitive damages. These may also be awarded at the judge’s discretion. They are meant to punish the defendant very harshly, as well as deter anyone else from engaging in those same behaviors.

Do You Have Questions About Wrongful Death Claims? Contact Us Today.

In the vast majority of Texas wrongful death cases, damages can only be obtained after relentless settlement negotiations and / or through a hotly-contested trial. For these reasons, you should only entrust the wrongful death claim for your child to an experienced personal injury lawyer at our law firm.

If you believe you have a wrongful death claim, call The Krist Law Firm, P.C. today. Call us or reach out online to schedule a free initial evaluation of your case.