There are limitations on who is allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and the rules for wrongful death cases can vary both by state and by circumstance. Under the Texas Wrongful Death Act, only certain family members have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a loved one. This includes:
- Parents of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
- Spouse of the deceased
Other family members, such as siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, generally cannot bring a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. In addition, friends and romantic partners may not file wrongful death lawsuits.
However, the law can be surprisingly complex, and it can be difficult to know for sure whether or not you can file a wrongful death case under state law. If you are unsure if you can pursue a claim under the Texas Wrongful Death Act, please reach out to us with your questions.
Determining Who is Eligible to File a Wrongful Death Claim
While the law may seem very straightforward at first, there can be some tricky issues involving who is entitled to make a claim for wrongful death. Despite the narrow categories of family members allowed to file a claim, the lines can sometimes still be a little muddy:
- Spouses. Whether you were formally married or considered married under common law, you may be eligible to file a claim. This holds in most cases even if you were separated at the time of death, divorced, or remarried after losing your spouse. Sometimes there is an argument as to who was the spouse of the deceased. Typically, a spouse will be the person to whom the decedent was legally married. But sometimes spouses may be "common law" married, and sometimes more than one person claims to have been married to the deceased person.
- Children. Typically, this includes biological children and legally adopted children—even if they are adult children. Keep in mind that, while a legally adopted child can file a suit for the loss of his or her adoptive parent, he or she is generally not able to pursue a claim for the loss of the biological parents in Texas.
- Parents. This usually includes parents who are divorced and adoptive parents, but foster parents and stepparents are excluded.
To ensure the proper parties are in a lawsuit involving another person's death, you should consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney who has handled these kinds of cases successfully in the past can explain your options, help you sort through the details, and make sure you understand your rights—even if you don’t ultimately choose to hire an attorney for your case. If you need help, please give our office a call today at 1-877-724-7800 to get answers and schedule a completely free and confidential case review.