The Texas Wrongful Death statutes fail to compensate many legitimate injuries while preserving the right to make a claim of many who have no damages. One example is the case of Syleta Harkins. In July of 2013 Syleta Harkins, an autistic, nonverbal, disabled adult, was left in a group home van and died. Harkins had never married and had no children. Her parents predeceased her. Under Texas law only parents, spouses and children may bring a wrongful death claim. Harkins’ siblings loved and cared for her but siblings have no wrongful death rights under Texas law. Texas law fails to recognized the traumatic effect of the loss of a sibling.
Texas law likewise fails to protect partners in long term, family-like relationships. The couple who lives together for decades and raises a family together has absolutely no wrongful death rights if one of the partners is killed by the negligence of a drunk truck driver.
Another equally unjust situation arises when a child who is being raised by grandparents is killed in an auto accident. The grandparents, who have a close, parent-like, familial relationship with their grandchild and will suffer until their dying breathes, have absolutely no wrongful death rights while the biological father, who oftentimes may never have laid eyes on the child and is nothing more than a sperm donor, has a right under Texas law to wrongful death damages.
Texas wrongful death laws are based on societal notions and institutions that predate the last century. It’s time that Texas wrongful death laws be reviewed and brought forward a few hundred years.
For more information contact www.earldrottlaw.com.