Can A Family Member Sue For Wrongful Death After A Texas Car Accident?
In Texas, the deceased's spouse, parents, or adult children may file a wrongful death lawsuit related to a car accident. Siblings and people named in the deceased's will cannot come forth with a lawsuit. Whoever is the representative of the deceased has the power to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas.
If your loved one passed away, we understand it is a challenging time. A wrongful death lawyer will be able to help you receive proper compensation for your loss. Facing legal deadlines and complexities can be overwhelming, but they shouldn’t discourage you from getting the justice you deserve.
Thousands of people lose their lives to traffic-related deaths in the United States each year. According to TxDot, here in Texas, there were 4,433 car accident-related deaths. A portion of these statistics is related to drunk drivers and negligent road behavior. The immensity of these losses is heartbreaking, and it can be challenging to handle for the surviving family. Especially in the case of a traffic accident, assigning fault will not be black or white. Assure you are taking proper legal steps to pursue the best scenario for your family.
The wrongful death attorneys at Sneed & Mitchell LLP have extensive experience helping surviving families claim compensation for the loss of a loved one. If you lost a loved one in a Texas traffic accident, this article would present the necessary information you need to know to pursue compensation for a wrongful death accident in Texas.
How do family members divide a wrongful death settlement?
Texas allows for a distribution procedure for the wrongful death settlement should the plaintiff(s) achieve one. Distributions usually occur in the following ways;
Negotiate between family members how the funds will be allocated. The settlement award would be granted to the deceased's children and/or spouse.
Compensate family members based on their threshold of loss. Individuals who were more dependent on the deceased would receive a more significant settlement.
If the family can’t decide, the decision can be handed over to the court.
The court decides who benefits and how the money will be dispersed.
A wrongful death lawyer can help you file a lawsuit or claim in Texas and assist you through the court process towards settlement distribution.
How Does A Family Member File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you have determined that you’d like to file a wrongful death lawsuit and are an eligible family member. In that case, the next step to commencing a civil lawsuit is to discuss the details - as you understand them - with a legal professional that handles civil claims related to a loss of life. It is not advised that you file a lawsuit without the assistance of an attorney. After reviewing the specifics of your claim, the next step is that an attorney file documents to begin the civil lawsuit. The first document filed is usually a complaint or petition. This must inform the defendant of the legal ground for the case. Additionally, you must file a summons that notifies the defendant that they are being sued. Provide specifics of where the court handlings will take place.
After filing the lawsuit, all the documents must be provided to the defendants. This is called service of process, which is the official notification you provide a defendant regarding the lawsuit. Every state and county has specific requirements, so make sure to consult with an educated legal professional to help guide you through the process.
Types of Financial Awards in a Car Accident Wrongful Death Settlement
When you experience the death of a loved one, you lose the future support they would have provided you. Compensation is meant to reimburse the surviving family for the financial stability they lost. The type and amount of monetary compensation you receive will depend on the situation. Every case is different and must be carefully investigated. The age, health, financial standing, background, income, and insurance of the deceased are all influential.
Economic and Non-Economic
There are economic and non-economic damages that allow plaintiffs to seek compensation. Economic damages include funeral, medical bills, lost wages, and other financial setbacks resulting from the accident. This includes what you will miss out on economically since your loved one has passed.
The state of Texas allows plaintiffs to receive non-economic damage in some wrongful death scenarios. This includes emotional damages, trauma, and loss of relational support that the surviving family experiences. These situations can be hard to measure, so it is essential to consult a wrongful death attorney to help you receive adequate compensation.
Compensatory and Punitive
Compensatory damages are when a plaintiff seeks compensation for damages and injuries that arise from the accident. They serve as reparations for the dependents' losses, including those mentioned above. A judge orders punitive damages in cases where the defendant displayed malicious intent or negligence in committing the accident. This allows the plaintiff to receive additional compensation for the fatality of their loved one. These are also referred to as exemplary damages, seen as punishment and a public deterrent.
Although determine the average wrongful death settlement in Texas is difficult, an attorney familar with personal injury claims involving a loss of human life can aid your family is determining the monetary value of the case.
How Do Car Accidents Result In Fatalities?
Car accidents are actually one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. Every year, tens of thousands of people are killed and millions more are injured in car crashes. While there are many factors that contribute to this alarming trend, the most common causes of fatal accidents include;
Texting while driving
Driving under the influence
Inclement weather conditions
Street and highway construction
Car manufacturing defects
Although speeding is a major factor in many car accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the number one cause of traffic accident fatalities in the United States is drunk driving. In 2020, 38,680 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver, and these accidents accounted for more than 30% of all traffic fatalities that year. Drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher are considered to be legally intoxicated in every state, and it only takes a small amount of alcohol to reach this level. Distracted driving is another major cause of car accidents. Drivers who text, talk on the phone, or engage in other activities that take their attention away from the road are more likely to be involved in an accident.
A Texas Lawyer Can Help You Pursue Legal Action in Your Case
Family members can sue for wrongful death after a car accident in many cases, but state law determines exactly who can file a claim, under what circumstances, and also sets in place time requirements applicable to bringing a claim here in Texas. If you have additional questions regarding whether you or a member of your family is able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, contact our law firm today. We can help evaluate your situation in a free confidential consultation and discuss your legal rights and options. Contact our legal team today at (866) 434-0014 for more information.