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A two boat collision in April caused one occupant to fall into lake. His body has not been located or recovered even after intensive underwater search for 7 months. Can he be judicially declared dead? If so, what court has jurisdiction? Is a J.P inquest required if there is no body? Can there be an inquest without any body? The State Bureau of Vital Statistics says a district court has jurisdiction, but can't cite statute for this.
Posts: 1 | Location: Post, Texas, Garza | Registered: November 10, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If there is any body part at all, fingers or toes or whatever, JP's in a non-medical examiner county (ME's in an ME county) have jurisdiction to do an inquest under CCP 49, "Inquests Upon Dead Bodies". I don't think there is jurisdiction unless there is at least some body part.

If there is more than one death or a disaster, the Death by Catastrophe death certificate law is triggered, H & S Code 193.010. Unless there is more than you said, it does not look like that one will help you. But, you might look to see if you have facts that bring it under those provisions.

How you proceed sort of depends on why you need this person declared dead. The last 'missing body' death in a civil context that I recall here, during the Fort Worth tornado several years back, resulted in the family suing the life insurance company in probate court for declaratory relief -- the insurance company wanted to pay but needed a court order to protect it against duplicate claims from potential unknown heirs and claimants. The suit was a private matter, filed by the family. At that time, we tried without success to locate a law that permitted some government functionary (M.E., health, whoever) to issue a death certificate, without luck. Hence, the Death by Catastrophe law. The reason that was not broadly written to cover single deaths in the ordinary course is that it was feared, mostly by insurance companies, that there would be too great a possibility of fraud.
Posts: 341 | Location: Tarrant County, Texas | Registered: August 24, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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