Can A Surviving Loved One Sue For Wrongful Death After A Car Accident In Texas?
In the state of Texas, when someone passes away due to a wrongful death after a car accident, his or her surviving family members may wish to sue the party responsible. Family members are absolutely within their right to sue under Texas law. Acquaintances, on the other hand, are not.
Those family members of a deceased loved one who are permitted to can sue in the event of a wrongful death in the state of Texas include:
- Parents (especially if the victim was a minor)
Unfortunately, while some states do allow for siblings to file wrongful death claims, Texas is not one of them. And siblings are guided by different rules as well. In the state of Texas, siblings who are made executors of their loved one’s estate must wait three months for the loved one’s beneficiaries to file suit. If no one does, then the executor may, unless s/he is explicitly told not to by a beneficiary.
Proving Wrongful Death
When you sue someone for causing a loved one’s wrongful death, this is considered a civil matter, rather than a criminal one. The reason for this is because you are suing the party responsible for financial compensation, as opposed to charging him or her with a crime. Note that, just like the cases against O.J. Simpson, a civil case for wrongful death can be filed against someone who has been charged criminally in the same case.
In order to successfully prove that your loved one was involved in an accident that resulted in his or her wrongful death, you must be able to prove the following elements of your case:
- That the party who caused the death acted either negligently or deliberately in an attempt to cause the deceased harm
- That you are suffering financially as a result of your loved one’s death
- That someone has been appointed a representative, or executor, of your loved one’s estate
Similar to a personal injury claim, you must be able to show that the accident was caused as the direct result of someone’s behavior, whether intentional or negligent. For instance, someone may be found guilty of reckless driving if s/he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. While s/he did not intentionally set out to cause the death of your loved one, choosing to drive while under the influence was reckless and negligent, and s/he can be held accountable in a court of law.
If you are unsure of where to start insofar as proving someone’s reckless or negligent behavior in order to win your case, you may want to consult with an experienced Dallas car accident lawyer. A lawyer can establish how the other driver would have acted in otherwise reasonable circumstances, and how that driver failed to do so. You may also want to hire a lawyer to represent you if you feel you may not be strong enough to argue your case before the court.
Types of Damages
When filing a wrongful death suit in the state of Texas, there are a number of actual damages that one can file for, including:
The term “pecuniary” relates to money. Therefore, pecuniary losses are any financial losses suffered as a result of the person’s death, including lost wages, lost services performed, and financial hardships. Financial hardships can include out-of-pocket medical expenses and costs related to the deceased’s funeral.
Loss of Advice and Counsel
This isn’t a common one, but if you suffer a loss of professional guidance as a result of the person’s death, you may be able to recover for the monetary value of your loss.
Expenses for Psychological Treatment
If the loss of the deceased resulted in significant emotional trauma, you may be able to recover damages for the cost of your psychological treatment.
There is a wide variety of damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death suit – you just need to know what to ask for. For instance, you may even be entitled to recoup for lost inheritance that you would have received had the deceased lived long enough for you to collect on such a policy.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit In The State Of Texas
In order to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state of Texas, you must be an immediate relative of the deceased. Friends and acquaintances are not allowed to sue at all, and siblings are only allowed to sue if they are executors of the estate – and only if no other beneficiaries have filed suit.
If you are unsure of the law and how it pertains to your case, or if you simply want advice on what steps to take first, you may want to consider contacting a Dallas car accident lawyer to help manage your case. Contact us today for more information at (214) 305-8277.