The death of a loved one due to someone else’s negligent act is almost always emotionally and financially draining to those left behind.
As you struggle to pick up the pieces, you may wonder how to pay for medical bills, funeral expenses, and other expenses.
No money can ever replace the loss of a loved one. However, recovering damages in a wrongful death or survival action may help families move forward with their recovery after such a devastating loss.
When someone dies, there are two available causes of action to pursue.
What Is the Difference Between a Wrongful Death vs Survival Action?
One files a wrongful death action for the harm they suffered due to their loved one’s death.
By contrast, a survival action is a lawsuit brought to recover damages for the harm suffered by someone before they died of their injuries.
What Is a Survival Action in Texas?
The Texas Survival Statute permits an estate, heirs, or legal representative to bring a survival action.
Under the statute, a personal injury lawsuit “survives” the death of a person and is pursued in the same manner as an ordinary personal injury lawsuit if the injured person survived their injuries.
A survival action may relate to the cause of the person’s death, or it may be unrelated.
For example, if your loved one survived a car accident a year ago but died of an unrelated heart attack before filing a claim, the estate could seek compensation for the car accident using a survival claim.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Survival Action?
The limitations period for a survival action in Texas is the same as for a personal injury action. The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Texas begins running for two years from the date of the accident.
However, the limitations period tolls for up to one year after the date of death. “Tolling” pauses the statute of limitations from continuing to run.
What Can I Recover in a Survival Action?
The recoverable damages in a survival action are similar to those in a personal injury lawsuit. Survival damages accrue from the time of a decedent’s injuries until their death. These damages may also include funeral or burial expenses.
Survival damages help alleviate the financial burden or medical expenses and other costs incurred before the death of a loved one.
How Is a Wrongful Death Action Different?
A wrongful death action is a lawsuit available to a surviving spouse, children, and parents of a deceased person.
The Texas Wrongful Death Act permits beneficiaries to recover personally for damages they incurred due to the loss of their loved ones.
Wrongful death actions do not allow recovery of injuries sustained to the deceased before their passing. This law strictly limits the recovery of damages to the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Action?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death actions is generally two years after the victim’s death. However, there are exceptions to this general rule.
For example, if a death occurred due to a defective product, the statute of limitations may extend depending on the situation.
Additionally, if a minor child lost their parent, the statute of limitations tolls until the child reaches the age of adulthood.
What Can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Action?
Wrongful death damages seek to compensate the deceased’s spouse, children, or parents for their losses.
Wrongful death damages include the following:
- Lost earning capacity;
- Lost care, maintenance, services, and support from the deceased;
- Emotional distress experienced by surviving family;
- Lost love, companionship, and comfort; and
- Lost inheritance.
Punitive damages may be available in some Texas wrongful death cases; however, one must prove that the death resulted from the willful act or omission or gross negligence of another.
Punitive damages seek to punish and deter future similar conduct.
A family may pursue a wrongful death claim and survival action in Texas. It’s vital to speak to a qualified personal injury attorney about the grounds for both causes of action.
At Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP, we believe that the relationship between our Firm and our clients represents a sacred trust. Our clients are never just a number or another case.
We work tirelessly to help our clients move forward—often from the most difficult and painful moments in their lives.
Wrongful death and survival actions are confusing, expensive, and stressful. We help ease this mental and financial burden and fight for the justice you deserve.
Contact our office today for a free consultation, and find out how we can help you.