A serious crash on I-35 N on the night of April 28 has claimed the life of one person. An 18-year-old woman was pronounced dead at University Hospital after the Toyota Yaris she was in was struck from behind by a GMC Sierra, which then caused her car to crash into a Dodge Durango. The driver and other passenger in the Yaris remain at University Hospital in critical condition, though the occupants of the Sierra and Durango escaped injury. While the driver of the Sierra will not face charges as of this writing and did stop to render aid, it is still plausible that the family of the deceased may seek to bring a wrongful death suit against the driver of the Sierra to recover medical bills and funeral expenses.
Wrongful Death Law Is Specific in Texas
Texas’ wrongful death statute sets out very specific requirements and facts that must be met in order to be able to file a wrongful death suit. Perhaps most notably, it stipulates the family members who are permitted to file suit – spouses, parents, and children, both minor and adult. Other family, such as siblings, aunts or uncles, are deemed to have had too remote a family relationship, rightly or wrongly. It also states that certain conduct is excepted from the statute; most notably, the right of action for wrongful death does not apply to an unborn child except in the rarest circumstances.
There are two types of wrongful death suits, but only one may be brought by the family. A survival action is a type of wrongful death case, but in Texas, it refers to a cause of action that the deceased had mounted before their passing. For example, if the deceased person had been suing someone over a property dispute, that action would survive under the personal representative of that person’s estate. But only the personal representative has the authority to maintain such an action.
Bringing the Suit
There are two specific time frames to keep in mind as you decide whether or not to sue for wrongful death. The family of a deceased person can bring suit within three months of the accident, but after this, a wrongful death suit must be brought by the estate’s personal representative. Texas law allows two years from the date of death for a suit to be brought. So, if the family does not move to sue within that first three-month period, the personal representative has one year and nine months to do so before the proverbial window closes.
There are multiple different types of damages one can seek in a wrongful death suit, both tangible (“economic”) and intangible (“non-economic”). Medical expenses prior to your loved one’s passing and funeral expenses are on the proverbial table, but causes of action like pain and suffering, loss of support, and loss of companionship are also possibly obtainable, depending on the specific facts of your situation. If you are able to demonstrate the loss and harm that your family has suffered, it is up to the jury to determine exactly what you may receive.
Call a New Braunfels Wrongful Death Attorney
While it remains to be seen, as of this writing, whether the family of the I-35 N victim will decide to bring a wrongful death suit against the Sierra driver, but if you are unfortunate enough to lose a loved one in a similar accident, your family will need the help of an attorney who understands Texas wrongful death law and can use it to ensure that negligent parties answer for their actions. The skilled New Braunfels wrongful death attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm is ready to work toward the fairest possible outcome for you and your family. Contact our office today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.