Texas is one of the most states for pedestrians in the United States. The Insurance Council of Texas has gathered data from the Texas Department of Transportation since 2010. It reported at the end of last year that pedestrian fatalities in the state increased 36 percent between 2010 and 2015. In 2010, 357 pedestrians died in traffic accidents. This figure peaked in 2013 with 493 deaths and fell slightly to 485 fatalities in 2015. Many of these fatalities lead to wrongful death claims in which the decedent’s survivors must fight for a fair recovery.
Population and Poor Planning Increase Pedestrian Risk
The 2014 data by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows Texas is one of the four leading states for pedestrian deaths. California, New York, Florida, and Texas account for 43 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in the country. The danger facing pedestrians around Texas is disproportionately high compared to that in most other states.
There are numerous reasons for why pedestrian deaths are on the rise. Due to economic conditions, more people choose to walk to work or walk to public transportation. This means more people are using the sidewalks, streets, and crosswalks. However, it is not merely that more people are outside. Pedestrian fatalities are related to a lack of sidewalks and poor city planning for people on foot. People are safer when there are sidewalks and marked crosswalks to use. If people have to walk on the side of the road or cross in the middle of a block, there is an increased risk of an accident. Many deaths also occur in the evening or at night when drivers are less likely to be able to see pedestrians.
Texas Wrongful Death Law
Texas civil statute section 71 states a person is liable for damages arising from an injury that causes another individual’s death if that injury was caused by the person’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. The wrongful death action is available only if the individual who was injured would have been able to bring an action for the injury had he or she lived.
A parent, spouse, or child of the deceased individual can bring a claim for wrongful death against the person who allegedly caused the injury. Siblings and grandparents do not have standing in Texas to file a wrongful death claim. However, if no one brings an action within three months of the individual’s death, then the executor of the estate may start the suit.
The judge or jury will determine the amount of compensation to award the family, but if the death was caused by a willful act, omission, or gross negligence, then the family is entitled actual and exemplary damages, also known as punitive damages. These are intended to punish the wrongdoer, not merely compensate the family.
The damages are divided by the jury and awarded to the family members affected by the death.
New Braunfels Wrongful Death Attorneys
Pedestrian-vehicle accidents are serious and often lead to injuries and fatalities. If your loved one was lost due to a pedestrian accident, do not hesitate to call the experienced New Braunfels wrongful death attorneys of The Bettersworth law Firm at (888) 392-0089. You can learn your rights during an initial consultation and determine whether filing suit is the right step for you and your family.