Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for wrongful death in Texas is two years. But what exactly is a statute of limitations? And how might it apply to your Texas wrongful death lawsuit?
These are common questions that many people have when they begin a wrongful death action.
Being familiar with the statute of limitations for your particular case is a crucial step in the process.
Failure to file your case within the applicable statute of limitations period can be detrimental to your case moving forward.
Use our guide below to learn more about Texas’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims.
An Overview of the Texas Wrongful Death Statute
Before diving into the nuances of the statute of limitations for a Texas wrongful death claim, it is important to understand the underlying claim itself.
According to Texas law, a person is liable in a wrongful death action if their wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default causes injury to another that results in death.
Obviously, a deceased person cannot personally hold the at-fault party responsible for their actions.
Thus, Texas’s wrongful death statute allows certain individuals to bring a legal action on behalf of their deceased loved one instead.
Specifically, only the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased may bring an action to recover damages under the Texas wrongful death statute.
First Things First: What Is a Statute of Limitations?
Now that you have a general understanding of a wrongful death claim, you might be wondering what a statute of limitations is and how it might impact your wrongful death lawsuit.
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a maximum period of time in which the parties to a dispute must file a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations varies from state to state and from legal claim to legal claim. However, regardless of where your claim arises or what type of legal claim you have, it is imperative that you comply with the applicable deadline.
Failure to timely file your lawsuit within the limitations period means you will probably lose your right to pursue your legal claim.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Texas?
Understanding the ins and outs of the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Texas can be confusing. We understand you may have questions.
Here are some answers to questions we frequently receive from clients regarding the Texas wrongful death statute of limitations.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death in Texas?
According to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 16.003, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is typically two years.
Specifically, the code provides, “A person must bring suit not later than two years after the day the cause of action accrues.”
When Does the Texas Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Begin?
A common misconception in wrongful death cases is that the statute of limitations begins on the date of the underlying accident that caused the injuries that later resulted in a loved one’s death. However, this is not necessarily the case.
Texas law specifies that the cause of action for a wrongful death claim “accrues,” or begins, on the date of death of the injured individual. Thus, in most cases, you will have two full years from the date your loved one died due to their injuries.
Nevertheless, even if you have multiple years to file your lawsuit, it is important to remember that the availability of evidence to support your case will likely decrease as more time passes.
Thus, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney as soon as practicable to start your case and maximize your recovery.
Are There Exceptions to the Texas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?
There are some exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death actions in Texas.
For instance, there are certain situations in which the statute of limitations period will not accrue until a later date or may pause for a period of time after it initially begins. This is called a “tolling” of the statute of limitations.
One of the most common scenarios in which the statute of limitations may be tolled is when the person entitled to bring a wrongful death action is a minor.
In these cases, the statute of limitations will not accrue until the claimant turns 18.
For example, if a child is 15 at the time of their parent’s death, they will have two years from the date they turn 18 to file suit. This gives them three additional years beyond the standard two-year statute of limitations.
This is not the only exception that exists. Make sure to speak with a qualified wrongful death attorney to discuss the particular facts of your case and better understand your options and timeline moving forward.
Armstrong Lee & Baker: Your Trusted Wrongful Death Attorneys
Losing a loved one to the wrongful or careless actions of someone else is a pain that no person should endure.
And while nothing can undo the loss you have suffered, a wrongful death action can help you move forward on your pathway to recovery.
When facing the most challenging times, know that Armstrong Lee & Baker will be with you every step of the way.
Not only are we a team of experienced trial attorneys, but we strive every day to treat our clients with the care, compassion, and attention they deserve.