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Vehicular Homicide Laws and Unborn Children: The Laws of Criminal Liability

Posted in Car Accidents on December 16, 2015

When a person causes a car accident due to negligent behavior and someone dies, the act falls under the category of vehicular homicide. Under Texas law, there are criminal penalties for negligently causing death of another human being. The state defines human beings as any individual who’s alive, including unborn children from the point of conception. Therefore, if a drunk driver causes an accident that leads to a mother’s to miscarriage, but she survives, the state may take action against the individual to seek justice for the unborn child.

While driving intoxicated is one of the most commonly cited reasons for vehicular homicide, illegally racing, driving recklessly (including texting while driving), or driving negligently could also result in a criminal case against an individual. Vehicular homicide also includes murder cases in which the vehicle is the weapon. In many of these cases, victims will also pursue civil action against the individual who caused death.

Losing a child in utero or a child and mother can have devastating consequences on a family. It may struggle with medical expenses, funeral expenses, and emotional trauma from the incident. These individuals may file a wrongful death suit to obtain compensation to cover the costs associated with the incident and punish the person who carelessly threw someone’s life away.

Criminal and Civil Consequences for Vehicular Homicide

Depending on the circumstances of the case, an individual may face a range of legal consequences. The investigation and subsequent criminal case will explore if the defendant’s behavior was reckless or intentional. That one differentiating factor could change whether or not someone spends years in prison for causing the death of an unborn child.

Intentional and reckless actions that cause death are both considered felonies, with varying degrees. If more than one individual died as a result of the accident, the defendant may face multiple counts of homicide, including charges for the death of the unborn child, the mother, pedestrians, or other passengers involved in the accident.

Individuals convicted of negligent, reckless, or intentional vehicular homicide may face fines, time in prison, counseling, probation, and community service for their actions. In a civil filing, they could also owe the surviving family thousands of dollars in reparations. Defendants may face concurrent trials in criminal and civil court.

What to Do After an Accident

Unfortunately, many vehicular homicides occur because someone made a reckless or negligent mistake. He or she drank one too many beers at the bar that night or was texting and driving, not paying attention to the lines on the roadway. One careless, illegal activity will change the course of that person’s life forever.

If you or a loved one suffers the loss of an unborn child in a car accident, you can obtain justice. Whether someone just found out about a pregnancy or was at full term when the incident occurred, you have legal options to hold the responsible individual accountable outside of criminal proceedings.

For pregnant women involved in an accident, get medical attention as soon as possible. Keep detailed records of your condition and your child’s in the days and weeks after the accident. Sometimes, the effects of such an event on an unborn child don’t manifest until sometime after the incident. If you do lose the child as a result of the accident, you may want to consult an attorney.

Contact Us

Losing a child unnecessarily is devastating, but Texas is one of the states that recognizes life as a person early on. You can’t get your child back, but you can facilitate a criminal case and file a civil action against the person responsible. For more information, contact our team in Dallas for a free consultation.