Losing a loved one is a profound and deeply personal tragedy. When that loss is the result of someone else’s negligence, the pain is compounded by a sense of injustice. In Texas, the law provides a pathway for families to seek solace through wrongful death claims. These claims can never replace your loved one but can offer a sense of justice being served. This blog helps you understand your rights and the steps involved in a Texas wrongful death case.

Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Texas

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death? 

In Texas, a wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the negligence or misconduct of another individual, company, or entity. Examples include fatal accidents on the road, at work, or due to medical malpractice.

What are the Common Causes of Wrongful Death in Texas?

Wrongful death cases result from negligence or intentional acts that cause fatalities. In Texas, some of the most prevalent causes include:

  • Vehicle Accidents: Texas roads witness many fatal accidents each year. These accidents involve cars, trucks, motorcycles, and pedestrians. Negligence, such as distracted driving, speeding, and driving under the influence (DUI), often plays a role.
  • Workplace Accidents: Certain industries like construction, manufacturing, and oil and gas are prone to workplace accidents. These accidents are often caused by heavy machinery, falls, and exposure to hazardous substances.
  • Medical Malpractice: Healthcare professionals can make errors like misdiagnosis or surgical mistakes. They may also improperly medicate. These errors can lead to patients’ deaths.
  • Product Liability: Defective or dangerous products, including automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods, can cause deadly harm.
  • Premises Liability: Deaths from unsafe conditions on someone else’s property, like slip and fall accidents fall under premises liability. Inadequate security incidents also fall under this category. 

Knowing these common causes helps people recognize possible wrongful death scenarios. and find the right legal help. Each case has unique challenges. Consult with a legal professional for guidance on wrongful death claims in Texas.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?

Texas law outlines specific family members who have the legal right to pursue a wrongful death claim. This provision ensures that those most affected by the loss have a pathway to seek justice and compensation.


The surviving spouse can file a claim for wrongful death. This claim seeks damages for loss of companionship, emotional distress, and financial support. The legal system acknowledges the profound impact of a spouse’s death on the surviving partner.


Minor and adult children can file a claim for wrongful death. This claim covers the loss of parental guidance, support, and emotional bond with the deceased. This includes all children with a legal relationship to the deceased, encompassing biological and legally adopted children. This acknowledges the broad spectrum of parental relationships.


Parents of the deceased can file a claim to recover damages for the emotional anguish and suffering caused by the loss of their child. This right applies regardless of the child’s age at the time of death, recognizing the enduring parental bond and the emotional toll of such a loss.

Special Considerations in Filing

Adoptive Relationships 

Adopted children and their adoptive parents have the same rights as biological relationships in wrongful death claims. However, adopted children lose the right to file for the wrongful death of a biological parent if another family legally adopted them.

Estate Representatives 

If the direct family members do not file a claim within three months of the death, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate has the right to file the claim, unless specifically asked not to by all eligible family members.


Texas law does not permit siblings, whether biological or adopted, and other extended family members, such as grandparents and cousins, to file a wrongful death claim. Unmarried partners are also excluded from filing under the current statutes.

What Are the Time Limits for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?

Understanding the importance of timing is extremely important when it comes to filing a wrongful death claim in Texas. The law has a specific time limit, called the statute of limitations, that determines how long you have to file a claim. In the case of wrongful death claims, this time limit in Texas is generally two years from the date of the person’s passing

This deadline serves a few purposes. It ensures that evidence is still available and that claims are resolved promptly. However, it also means that you need to act quickly. If you don’t start the legal process within these two years, it can greatly affect your ability to seek justice and compensation for your loss. It’s a crucial step that you can’t afford to overlook, because missing this deadline can permanently prevent you from making a claim, no matter how valid it may be.

The Compensation You Might Expect 

What Kind of Compensation Can Families Expect in a Wrongful Death Case in Texas?

In the event of a wrongful death, families not only deal with emotional distress but also financial insecurity. The law provides a mechanism for compensation, but what does that encompass? Financial recovery in wrongful death cases is multifaceted, aiming to address both tangible and intangible losses.

The tangible losses from losing a key family member include the deceased’s lost earning potential. This has a significant economic impact. Compensation might cover not just current earnings but the income the deceased would have reasonably been expected to earn in the future. Families can also recover medical and funeral costs, easing the financial burden of losing a loved one.

Intangible losses, while harder to quantify, are no less significant. These include lost companionship and support, recognizing the emotional and psychological void left by the deceased. The law recognizes the value of love, comfort, and guidance lost, allowing for compensation for mental anguish suffered by surviving family members.

Given the complexity of quantifying these losses, securing experienced legal representation is crucial. An experienced attorney can handle wrongful death claims effectively to reflect the family’s loss. The careful approach seeks justice through financial restitution. It also honors the deceased’s memory by recognizing the full impact of their absence.

Navigating the Process

How Do You Start the Process of Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?

Filing a wrongful death claim in Texas may feel overwhelming. The process is particularly challenging after losing a loved one. The first thing you need to do is gather important evidence that shows negligence or fault caused the death. The evidence may consist of police reports, medical records, eyewitness testimonies, and other relevant documents.

What Legal Challenges Can Arise During a Wrongful Death Claim?

Various legal challenges can arise during a wrongful death claim in Texas. Proving the defendant’s liability is a major challenge. It requires meeting the preponderance of evidence standard. This standard is less strict than in criminal cases, but it remains difficult. Understanding how damages are allocated in Texas based on comparative fault rules is another challenge. This understanding greatly impacts the outcome of your claim.

Why Is Legal Representation Critical in Wrongful Death Cases?

Having legal representation is crucial in wrongful death cases. It is important to engage the services of a skilled wrongful death attorney early on in the process. These legal professionals are experienced in this area. They can provide valuable assistance in conducting a thorough investigation and in building a strong case that accurately reflects the extent of your loss. They can also navigate the complexities of Texas’s wrongful death statute, ensuring that all procedural requirements and deadlines are met. Additionally, they can handle negotiations with insurance companies and defense attorneys on your behalf.

How Can You Ensure Your Wrongful Death Claim Is Handled With Care?

To ensure that your wrongful death claim is handled with care, it is important to choose the right legal partner. Look for a law firm that has a proven track record of compassionately handling wrongful death claims. They should not only have legal experience and skills but also provide emotional support during this difficult time. Your attorney should be there to guide you through every step of the process. They also need to be committed to seeking justice for your loved one while understanding and respecting the emotional journey you are going through.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Multiple Family Members File Separate Wrongful Death Claims in Texas?

No, Texas law requires that wrongful death claims be filed jointly by eligible family members (spouse, children, and parents of the deceased). However, if one family member files, they must notify the others, who can then choose to join the claim.

What Happens If a Loved One Dies Without a Will? Who Can File the Claim?

If the deceased did not leave a will, the right to file a wrongful death claim still resides with the spouse, children, and parents. Not having a will doesn’t affect filing eligibility. It could, however, affect how damages are distributed under Texas intestacy laws.

Are Punitive Damages Available in Texas Wrongful Death Cases?

Yes, punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages in Texas, may be awarded in wrongful death cases. These are not meant to compensate the family. These are rather meant to punish the wrongdoer for particularly reckless or egregious behavior. They are also meant to deter similar actions in the future. Their availability depends on clear and convincing evidence of gross negligence or a willful act or omission.

Can a Wrongful Death Settlement Affect the Deceased’s Debt?

Wrongful death settlements are intended to compensate the deceased’s family for their loss. They are generally not considered part of the deceased’s estate. Therefore, they are typically not subject to claims by creditors for the deceased’s debts. However, specific circumstances may vary. Consulting with a legal professional is advisable for clarification concerning your situation.

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxed in Texas?

Wrongful death compensatory damages like lost wages, medical expenses, and funeral costs are usually tax-free under federal and Texas state law. However, portions of the settlement deemed punitive damages may be taxable. It’s important to consult with a tax professional for advice on how a wrongful death settlement might affect your tax obligations.

Seek Justice with McKinnon Law

Navigating wrongful death claims in Texas demands legal experience and skills. McKinnon Law, PLLC, is equipped to handle these challenges. We provide legal representation for families affected by wrongful death. We also have wide experience in various personal injury matters. These include 18-wheeler accidents, car accidents, oilfield injuries, workplace injuries, premises liability, and negligent security.

We recognize the impact of these incidents on individuals and families. We approach each case sensitively and commit to securing justice. Our team is deeply familiar with Texas law. We will ensure that your rights are vigorously protected and your case is presented with the attention it deserves. We will guide you through every stage of the legal process, offering clarity and support. Our aim is for you to receive the compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one experienced wrongful death or negligence, McKinnon Law, PLLC, can help. Together, we can pursue the justice your loved one deserves while prioritizing your recovery and well-being. Contact us today to explore how we can assist you during this challenging time.