Each state has a wrongful death statute that answers the question of who can file a lawsuit when a person dies because of someone else’s negligence. These individuals are called wrongful death beneficiaries and under Texas law they’re limited to the surviving parents, spouse, and children of the deceased person.
A surviving spouse can be from a traditional ceremonial marriage or a common law marriage. Texas has rather liberal standards for recognizing a common law marriage. Basically all that’s required is living together (cohabitation) and an oral or written representation by the couple that they’re married.
Children can be natural or adopted offspring of the deceased person. Step-children who weren’t legally adopted by the deceased person aren’t wrongful death beneficiaries.
From time to time, we have brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins call Painter Law Firm with terrible stories about things that happened to a deceased relative. Unfortunately, under Texas law, none of these relationships fall within the Texas wrongful death statute, so we can’t pursue a case on their behalf.
The damages in a wrongful death case include economic damages, like lost past and future income and support, and non-economic damages, like pain, suffering, and mental anguish. The harms and losses suffered by each wrongful death beneficiary are different and a top-rated Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney can help evaluate what may be recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit.