All civil cases in any state are subject to a statute of limitations rule that governs when a case is acceptable in the court system. In Texas, all civil actions must be filed within two years of the incident or when the injury is recognized, including wrongful death cases.
Tolling the clock in a multiple civil action case
Many wrongful death cases are associated with a personal injury claim first and not actually available until the victim dies. Injury claims must be filed within two years after the fact or realization of injury, but the clock is “tolled” to a beginning of the window for the wrongful death claim until death occurs. Cases where the death occurs immediately are not subject to this delay as the case can be filed as soon as evidence of significant or gross negligence is found.
Tolling the limitations clock in a criminal case combination
Wrongful death cases do not always arise from accidental deaths with egregious negligence. Sometimes, they stem from a criminal situation where the defendant purposely killed the victim. With these willful wrongful death claims that have an associated criminal case, the limitations clock can also be tolled to begin after the criminal charge case has concluded.
It is also important to note that many injury cases will include evidence of gross negligence even while the victim is suffering before they eventually succumb to the injuries. Attorneys should know when the additional claim will apply well before death in many instances, which means the case can be prepared in advance of the limitation clock beginning. A wrongful death claim might seek compensation for all the medical expenses the person incurred before dying in addition to costs associated with their loss.