Lawyer for Fatal Car Accidents in Texas
If you lost a loved one in a car accident in Texas, don’t hesitate to contact The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert, P.C. We can help you explore any potential opportunities for a wrongful death lawsuit in pursuit of damages for your family. Sometimes the human body cannot withstand the extreme forces a vehicle collision exerts. Catastrophic brain injuries, fractures, spine injuries, or internal injuries can turn fatal for crash victims. In 2016, Texas saw no deathless days. Car accidents killed 3,773 people– equivalent to one death every two hours and 20 minutes.
Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents
In Texas, fatal car accidents killed 2,534 motorists, 496 motorcyclists, 678 pedestrians, and 65 pedalcyclists in 2016. The most frequent factors police cited in fatal car accidents were alcohol use (26%), distracted driving (12%), and speeding (8%). Rural roads accounted for a slightly higher percentage of fatal accidents (51.47%) than urban roads. Intersection crashes killed 814 Texans, while head-on collisions took the lives of 638. Understanding the following most common causes of fatal car accidents and wrongful death claims can help you learn where you stand in a Texas court of law.
- Driver error. Unsafe lane changes, cell phone use or other distractions, breaking roadway rules, speeding, driving while intoxicated, driving drowsy, disregarding right-of-way at intersections, and failing to properly maintain a safe vehicle are all examples of driver errors that could cause fatal car accidents. Texas is a fault insurance state, permitting parties to bring lawsuits against at-fault drivers in pursuit of damage recovery.
- Vehicle failure. Brake failures, broken windshield wipers, steering problems, defective parts, unhitched trailers, and failed lights can all cause traffic collisions. Vehicle failures could be the fault of the owner of the vehicle for poor maintenance or the part manufacturer for releasing a defective or dangerous vehicle component.
- Dangerous roadway defect. In other cases, fatal collisions occur because of the negligence of roadway maintenance crews or property owners. If a defect such as a pothole, uneven shoulder, debris, loose gravel, or a fallen tree causes a fatal crash, surviving loved ones may be able to hold the city government or private property owner accountable for failing to maintain safe premises.
It’s important to speak to a Texas car accident attorney as soon as you can after losing a loved one in a fatal car accident. Gathering evidence from the scene and in the days following is an imperative step in building your case against another driver, part manufacturer, or another party. It’s also crucial that you don’t miss Texas’ two-year deadline to file your claim – or the much shorter six-month deadline to file a claim against the government. Call our firm right away to maximize your odds of a successful wrongful death claim.
Do You Have Grounds for a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
Texas’ wrongful death statute determines who can file a wrongful death claim, as well as how and when one can bring the claim. In Texas, a surviving spouse, child, or parent of the deceased may file a wrongful death claim after a fatal car crash. Otherwise, the personal representative of the estate can file a claim on the estate’s behalf. Plaintiffs may file wrongful death and/or survival actions after a fatal accident in pursuit of damages to both the decedent and the family.
To substantiate and validate a wrongful death claim, you or your lawyer must be able to prove that the death was a direct consequence of the other driver’s negligence or wrongful act. With clear and convincing evidence that the death was a direct result of negligence, Texas law states that you could recover punitive damages in addition to a variety of other damages awarded.
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Mental or emotional pain or anguish
- Pecuniary losses, or compensation for surviving family members for the loss of income or care from the deceased
A Wrongful Death Claim Vs. Survival Claim
Texas attorneys will know the difference between a wrongful death claim and a survival claim. Some people will try to use these terms interchangeably, but they are not the same. A wrongful death claim is the most common, which occurs when the victim passes away, is intended to benefit surviving family members as a result of their loss. A survival claim arises during the deceased person’s life, and is intended to benefit the descendants after the victim’s expected demise. This means that if a person is hospitalized after a crash and passes away weeks later, the case would be considered a survival claim, because the case exceeds the person’s life.
Similarly, restrictions are in place on who can file a survival claim. By Texas law, it can be an heir or legal representative of the estate. The claim must also be filed within two years from the date the person was injured. Survival claim damages differ in that they incur from the time the person was injured to the time of their death. After that, the damages are totaled, sent to the estate, and then divided among their heirs. Survival claims are also eligible for a variety of compensation.
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical limitations
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
It is important to contact an attorney swiftly after an accident to begin legal action on the proper claim for your case.
Who Is Liable for a Fatal Car Accident?
After the death of a loved one, you may be wondering if someone else’s negligence was the cause. If this is the case, you may consider a wrongful death suit. Many parties may be responsible for your loved one’s death after a fatal car crash. For example, the negligence may have been on the part of the driver failing to take reasonable precautions in his or her driving.
If the vehicle was a company car or a fleet-owned truck, the company may be at fault if it didn’t perform necessary maintenance. Poorly maintained tires or brakes are frequently a cause of accidents. If the company failed to properly maintain the vehicle so that it was not safe to operate, its negligence may make it liable.
The negligence could also have been on the part of the manufacturer of the vehicle or its parts. If a defect in the design or manufacture of a car part contributed to the accident, you may be able to seek compensation for your loved one’s death.
Who Is Eligible to Seek Compensation?
According to Texas law, close surviving family members of the deceased, including the spouse, parents, and children of the deceased may seek damages for the death of their loved one. They may seek compensation separately or as a group.
If a family member does not pursue a lawsuit within three months of the victim’s death, the personal representative or executor of the estate may begin the process of filing a lawsuit instead.
What Compensation Can the Family Seek?
Your loved one may have continued working and bringing in wages for years to come had it not been for the carelessness of the one(s) who caused the accident. The victim would have supported, counseled, and provided companionship to his or her family members as well.
According to Section 71.004(a), as long as the immediate family members, including the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased, are seeking compensation, then several damages may be rewarded. Family members does not include romantic partners, grandparents, siblings, or cousins.
You have the right to seek compensation for:
- Your mental and emotional suffering from the loss of your family member.
- The loss of wages your loved one would have provided.
- The loss of maintenance, services, and support he or she would have provided.
- Your loss of companionship, love, and comfort.
- The lost inheritance the victim would have left after a normal lifespan.
In addition to this compensation, you may seek exemplary damages as punishment for the negligent party’s willful omission or gross negligence. The amount of exemplary damages that you may seek varies from case to case.
Punitive damages are also a possibility in wrongful death cases, which are meant to punish the wrongdoer. However, by Texas law they are only awarded under certain circumstances. Speak with your lawyer first about punitive damages.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation For Your Texas Wrongful Death Case
After a fatal car accident, you might not know where to turn for legal counsel. Aaron A. Herbert and his team can help families pick up the pieces after an unexpected death due to another driver’s negligence. Talk to our experienced Texas wrongful death lawyers for an in-depth overview of your specific case and rights as a grieving family member. We offer free case evaluations at our convenient Dallas office so you can explore your options at no charge.