What Happens if an Injury Victim Dies While Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim?
Posted on August 8, 2016
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A personal injury claim can bring justice to an injured victim by holding a wrongdoer accountable. Sadly, not all accident victims live long enough to see their day in court. If someone passes away while pursuing a personal injury claim in Dallas, the claim doesn’t die with them. The victim’s surviving family members or a representative of the estate may continue the claim through a wrongful death lawsuit, a survival action or both.
What Is a Survival Action?
A survival action is the closest thing available to continuing a deceased individual’s personal injury lawsuit in Texas. Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 71.021 states that a cause of action for a personal injury does not go away because of the death of the injured person. Instead, it survives and allows the decedent’s heirs, legal representatives and estate to recover financial compensation against the liable person through a survival action. A claim also does not abate because of the death of the liable party.
A survival action permits the deceased person’s (decedent’s) surviving family members or personal representative of the estate to take over a personal injury lawsuit that was started when the decedent was still alive. The main goal of a survival action is to provide compensation for the losses suffered by the decedent prior to death. These losses may include physical pain, emotional suffering, psychological anguish, property damage and lost wages.
If a survival action in Dallas succeeds, the financial compensation gained is given to the decedent’s estate for distribution rather than going directly to surviving family members. Under the estate’s control, it may first go toward repaying any outstanding debts. Then, any remaining amount is distributed based on the terms of the decedent’s will or the rules of Texas’ intestate succession law if there is no will.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If an injury victim dies while pursuing a personal injury claim, another possibility is a wrongful death lawsuit. Although both of these types of civil cases seek financial compensation for a preventable death, they are two separate causes of action that can result in different types of financial compensation. For this reason, it is possible to file both a survival action and a wrongful death lawsuit simultaneously.
In Texas, a wrongful death action may only be brought by the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, parents or the executor of the estate. If a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, it can result in financial compensation given to beneficiaries or the estate to make up for the victim’s final medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, and the loss of the loved one’s care, love and companionship.
When to Contact an Attorney in Dallas
If one of your loved ones recently passed away in the middle of pursuing a personal injury claim for an accident such as a car crash, slip and fall injury, medical malpractice, or product liability claim, contact a wrongful death lawyer in Dallas as soon as possible. This type of attorney will have the knowledge and experience to explain the rights of the estate or heirs to pursue a survival action and/or wrongful death lawsuit. An attorney can take over complicated legal processes on your behalf while you plan a funeral and focus on grieving.
In Texas, a law known as a statute of limitations gives a deadline for the ability to continue a personal injury claim after the death of the claimant. Although this deadline can change according to the type of case, it is usually two years from the date of the victim’s death. It is important not to wait until the end of your deadline to consult with an attorney, however. Gathering evidence and filing the necessary paperwork takes time. Contact an attorney for legal assistance as soon as possible if your loved one dies while pursuing a personal injury claim.