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Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas?

Losing a loved one unexpectedly in The Woodlands to an accident caused by the careless or negligent actions (or inactions) of another can be devastating. If you and your family are currently having to deal with such a loss, then you may justly be considering a wrongful death lawsuit. The potential compensation that can come from such an action may end up helping to fill the emotional and financial void that your family member left behind. Yet not just anyone can initiate such action, which begs the question of who is allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit? 

Many states only allow the executor or personal representative of a decedent's estate to bring an action for wrongful death. While such action is typically done at the request of the decedent's loved ones, only the executor can formally handle any matters related to the case. In Texas, the law allows for almost the exact opposite. Per Section 71.004 of the state's Civil Practice and Remedies Code, any of the following relations of a decedent can sue for wrongful death: 

  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Parents 

If you shared one of these relationships with the decedent, you can choose to initiate action on your own or as a group effort between you and other qualified parties. If you are not the spouse, child or parent of the decedent, but are instead the executor of his or her estate, you can initiate a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate if neither of the aforementioned parties has within three calendar months of his or her death. 

Regardless of who initiates action, awards granted in a wrongful death lawsuit are distributed amongst the decedent's surviving family members. Who gets what is determined by the court. 

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