When a patient dies as a result of medical malpractice in Texas, certain family members have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Each state has a wrongful death statute that defines who’s eligible to be a plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit. In Texas, wrongful death plaintiffs are limited to the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased person.
It’s not uncommon that the rather narrow Texas wrongful death statute means that no one can file a wrongful death lawsuit in certain cases. For example, let’s say an unmarried person with no children, whose parents have already passed away, dies in the hospital because of medical malpractice. Under Texas law, there’s no one eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
To settle a wrongful death lawsuit, the settling defendants will almost always demand that all eligible wrongful death beneficiaries be a party to the lawsuit and settlement. The reason for this is that they don’t want to settle with one plaintiff and then have someone else come along and file the same lawsuit.
If there are multiple wrongful death beneficiaries that are parties to the settlement, it will be up to them to decide how to split the settlement proceeds. If the case goes to trial, though, and the jury finds in favor of the plaintiffs, the jury will also decide how much each wrongful death plaintiff receives.
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Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas.