Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Few events in life are more tragic and harder to face than the unexpected loss of a loved one. The sudden death of your spouse, parent, or child can be unbearable. Yet the matter is even more devastating when it was caused by someone else’s negligence and could have been prevented.
As you grieve and make plans to lay your loved one to rest, you may consider whether you want to pursue a wrongful death claim. Moving forward with this type of claim can never bring your family member back, but it can help your finances and give you the ability to move forward. It should not be on your shoulders to pay the medical bills and funeral expenses on top of losing your loved one’s income and other contributions.
While you have some time to consider your legal options, you cannot let the question of a wrongful death claim sit for too long. There are time limitations for filing this type of suit and it is beneficial for you to act when evidence is recent and available.
Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
The Texas wrongful death statute of limitations is two years from the date the cause of action arises. If you want to try and recover compensation for the loss of a loved one, you have two years to file a wrongful death claim, usually starting the day of your family member’s death.
After the statute of limitations runs out, you no longer have the right to seek compensation for your loss. In a few limited circumstances, you may be able to file a valid claim after two years from the date of your loved one’s death. However, if you bring a wrongful death claim filed too late, the defendant can seek to have it dismissed. It is essential to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to ensure you do not miss this crucial deadline.
When the Statute of Limitations Starts
A statute of limitations begins to run starting on the date your legal cause of action arises. This is the day you realize there are facts that may support a legal claim. In almost all circumstances, this date is the day of your loved one’s death, not the day that the accident that caused their death occurred. If your spouse, parent, or child died on the same day as the accident, then this is the day the clock begins to tick. However, your family member may have passed away days or weeks following the accident. The limitation will begin on the day of the death, not the day of the accident. While there may be a legal claim that arises on the day of the accident, your right to file a wrongful death suit does not come about until your loved one’s death.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death
There are circumstances when the statute of limitations does not begin to run until a later date or pauses it in the middle. This is known as tolling the statute of limitations. Whether the statute of limitations is delayed or at some point paused, the practical effect is that the time you have to file a wrongful death claim is extended beyond two years from the date of your loved one’s death.
The statute of limitations may be tolled when:
- You are a minor child. If you lost your parent as a minor child, your statute of limitations does not begin to run until you turn 18 years old. You will have two years following your 18th birth date to file a wrongful death suit. However, you are not required to wait. Another parent or guardian can pursue a wrongful death claim on your behalf while you are still a minor.
- The negligence was not obvious. If you were reasonably unaware that another person or business’s negligence was responsible for your loved one’s death, then your cause of action did not arise until you were informed. Even if you did not learn of the negligence until years later, your two-year statute of limitations does not begin to run until the date you knew.
- The negligence was fraudulently concealed. If the party that caused your loved one’s death intentionally concealed their involvement or negligence in relation to the death, then your statute of limitations does not begin to run until you find out about the fraud.
- You are incapacitated. If at the time of your loved one’s death you were mentally or physically incapacitated, then the clock does not start until you are competent once again. This is common if you were injured in the same accident that led to your family member’s death.
The Texas Statute of Repose for Wrongful Death
Depending on your situation and when you discovered someone else’s negligence led to your loved one’s death, you may not bring a wrongful death claim until more than two years later. However, there is another limitation you must be aware of. In Texas, the statute of repose for a wrongful death claim is 10 years. This is the ultimate deadline for filing your case.
Our Houston Wrongful Death Attorneys Offer Compassionate Representation
If you lost a loved one because of another person’s carelessness, recklessness, or intentional wrongful action, then you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. To learn more about your rights and legal options, call us at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at 281-283-8500 .
We have more than 27 years of experience working with families who have lost loved ones. We offer the skills and resources you need to build a strong case against the party responsible for your grief. Call us today at 281-283-8500 or use our online form to schedule a consultation with our Houston wrongful death attorneys.