Can a Sibling File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Can a Sibling File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Unfortunately, siblings and grandparents are the two members of the “immediate” family that fall outside of the scope of who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. What happens is that in Texas, only the deceased’s children, spouse, or parents may file a wrongful death claim. These restrictions are put into place in an effort to reduce frivolous claims, and to reduce claims made from more distant parties. For more information, speak to an experienced personal injury attorney in Texas.
Why Can’t Siblings File for Wrongful Death?
Siblings can’t file wrongful death lawsuits because there’s often someone close to the deceased who has a right to file. The issues that arise after death aren’t always meaningful or important to the immediate family. Ideally, the laws that restrict a sibling’s right to file will reduce the struggle for the family.
For example, if a spouse has decided not to file a wrongful death lawsuit because they can afford the medical expenses and funeral expenses, then that is their choice. Or, if the surviving spouse already received compensation for the damages through an insurance claim, they may see no reason in re-hashing the events that led to their lost loved one.
But, when another family member comes in and wants to file for a sense of closure or to harm the person responsible, it can cause distress on the spouse, children, or surviving parents.
Do You Have Options If There Is No One Else?
Under the Texas statute, the following can benefit from a wrongful death case: children, surviving spouse, and the deceased’s parents. However, they only have three months to begin filings before the law also allows the executor of the estate. In essence, if you were the only person left in your sibling’s life, then you, as the executor of the estate, could pursue the wrongful death charges three months after the death.
If the deceased did not have a will naming you as the executor of the estate, then the estate will need to enter probate. While the estate is in probate, the Texas probate court will name a person, usually the closest surviving family member, as the executor.
Can Siblings Still Benefit from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Usually, siblings will not benefit in any way. There are rare instances when the wrongful death claim will go through disbursement in a way that indirectly benefits siblings, but you shouldn’t count on that. What you should expect is not to get much, or only to receive compensation for elements that you may have paid for.
For example, if you paid for the funeral expenses, and then the claim provides compensation for those expenses, the claimant may forward that to you. Ultimately, it is the claimant’s choice in how to handle the disbursement of any compensation that they receive. That claimant will either be a child, parent, or surviving spouse and, in some cases, the executor of the estate. The idea is that these are the people who should have absorbed all the damages from the accident and resulting death.
If you contributed to funds to help the family get through the trying time, then maybe discuss that with the claimant when they file. Or, make it clear that you can financially loan the money for funeral expenses or medical debt until the compensation claim goes through.
Should You Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Texas for a Wrongful Death Claim?
Usually, wrongful death claims come as a result of personal injury issues. Things such as car accidents, medical malpractice, and more can all result in death. Now what happens when building a wrongful death claim is a local Texas personal injury attorney will meet with the family. They’ll decide who is in the best position to file the claim, and if on the whole, it is what the family wants.
If the family does want to file a claim, then they will move forward with a lawsuit. In some situations, the deceased’s estate will be the basis of the claim with the executor representing the family. To understand more about your wrongful death claim, contact Brent Coon.
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