After a crash involving a pedestrian on the afternoon of August 1, a driver has been apprehended on charges of failure to stop and render aid. A man died at the scene after another man’s car hit him while walking on the sidewalk near the corner of South First Street and West Ben White Boulevard. While the second man will face criminal charges, it is also likely that should the family of the deceased choose, he will also face a civil lawsuit for wrongful death.
Wrongful Death in Texas
Texas’ wrongful death statute holds that liability exists if someone’s death is caused by another person’s (or their agent’s) “wrongful act, neglect … or default.” In short, if Person A’s conduct rises to the level of negligence under the law, and that negligence causes Person B to die, Person A may be liable for wrongful death. To prove liability, one must show that (1) a duty of care existed between plaintiff and defendant; (2) that duty was breached; (3) the breach caused tangible harm to the plaintiff; and (4) that harm was done directly because of the defendant’s actions.
Texas law allows for wrongful death suits to be brought by specific members of the deceased person’s family, though in very rare circumstances others may be able to do so if they had no immediate family. Usually, it will be either the spouse, parents, or children of the deceased who will file the claim (separately or as a group) – in Texas, this includes adult children, though this is not always the case in other states. Family members like siblings are not generally permitted to file wrongful death cases.
Lawsuits and Damages
If you are able to show the tenets of a wrongful death case, then one may speak of damages. There are multiple types of actual damages that may be claimed if you are able to prove your case, for instance, lost earning capacity, a spouse’s loss of consortium (defined as “affection, solace, comfort,” and the other benefits of a marriage), pain and suffering, lost inheritance (from the deceased to their family) and many others. Damages in a wrongful death case are divided among the family members who suffered injury as a result of the person’s death, even if they did not participate in bringing suit.
Be advised that Texas law does also recognize another type of death-related action, referred to as a survival action, which is different from a standard wrongful death case. A survival action is brought by the deceased person’s estate, and it is brought for the cause of action that the deceased would have had if they had lived. For example, if the deceased was killed in an auto accident, any survival action would be brought in negligence law, seeking the damages one would receive after a car accident, such as any medical expenses or funeral expenses, lost wages, and the like.
Contact Our Experienced Attorneys
If the family of the deceased decides to bring suit against the second driver, it will likely be for wrongful death. Either way, if you experience such an incident and lose a loved one, your case may be different. Contacting our skilled New Braunfels wrongful death lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm can help show you where to go in terms of seeing your case to its conclusion. Contact our office today to set up an initial appointment.