An early morning crash near the intersection of Hwy 290 and RM 1826 killed one person after an SUV failed to obey posted signs and turned left into traffic. The SUV was exiting a private drive, and while only right turns are permissible from that driveway, the SUV driver turned left, cutting across several lanes. Another driver, in a silver sedan, swerved to avoid a collision with the SUV but wound up being struck again. The sedan driver was killed at the scene, and while the SUV driver was cited (a misdemeanor), it is not implausible that the family of the sedan driver might want to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, given that but for the SUV driver’s negligence, their loved one might still be alive.
Wrongful Death in Texas
Wrongful death is a cause of action under civil law (as opposed to criminal law; wrongful death is not a crime). In a wrongful death lawsuit, a deceased person’s loved ones are seeking to hold the defendant liable for their role in causing that person’s death and may receive money damages if they are successful. Texas law states that a person should be liable for damages if that person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” caused an injury that led to the death of the deceased.
Wrongful death cases are decided based on a legal theory of negligence, meaning that to prevail, a plaintiff has to show three things. They must show that the defendant breached the duty to exercise reasonable care in their actions, they must show that they suffered harm because of that failure and that there was no other cause for their injuries – that the defendant’s conduct was the sole reason for them happening. This is not always easy to establish, especially in multi-car accidents, but it is far from impossible.
Notes About Filing
One of the most important things to keep in mind in wrongful death lawsuit situations is that not every relative has the right to file suit under Texas law. Currently, only spouses, children and parents are permitted to bring suit – siblings, aunts and uncles, and other family who are not considered as ‘close’ legally may not. While this may seem unjust, the current law’s rationale is that a wrongful death suit is designed to compensate those who depended on the victim, both for companionship and for financial support.
There is also a specific time frame in which you must file your lawsuit – these are called statutes of limitations, and they exist simply because memories decay over time, and often, so does evidence. The statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years, which means that within two years of the person’s death as a result of the accident or injury, you or your loved ones must file suit. This is a hard and fast rule, with the exception of situations where the heir is a minor child – the two years will not be tolled until they reach the age of 18.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
While as of yet, no suit has been filed in the Hwy 290 crash, it is still worth understanding wrongful death suits, in case you are ever unfortunate enough to have need to file one in your family. If you have lost someone due to another person’s negligence, a dedicated New Braunfels wrongful death attorney at the Bettersworth Law Firm can assist you. Contact our offices today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.