Who may bring a wrongful death claim?
Wrongful death claims are governed by the Texas Wrongful Death and Survival statute. The statute only allows recovery for a specific group of people: the surviving spouse, any surviving children, any surviving parents, and the deceased’s estate.
While these categories may seem simple, there are several issues associated for each. For example, a surviving spouse includes not only a spouse by formal marriage, but also a spouse by common law marriage. For children, a suit can be brought by natural and adopted children, but not by step-children. For parents, suit can be brought by natural and adoptive parents, but not by step-parents, foster parents, or others who raised the child without going through the formal adoptive process.
You may notice some significant omissions. Sadly, a sibling may not bring a wrongful death claim even though the loss of a sibling can be devastating. Similarly, grandparents are not listed in the statute and cannot bring wrongful death claims.