Recently, two people were racing their vehicles along Bluff Springs Road in southeast Austin when one struck the side of the other, sending it into a light pole and killing the driver. Initially, the second driver had fled the scene, but he returned to the scene while law enforcement was still present, and was taken into custody. He was charged with two second-degree felonies, and while there has been no indication that the deceased driver’s family seeks to file suit against him, the driver could face a wrongful death suit if they choose to do so. If you lose a loved one due to another person’s negligence, filing a wrongful death suit is usually an option for you and the other survivors.
Wrongful Death vs Homicide
The Texas Wrongful Death Act states that a person is liable for damages that stem from the death of another person if that death was caused by their (or their agent’s) “wrongful act, negligence, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.” If this turns out to be the case, your family may be able to recover compensation to help offset the loss of your loved one – it is not a replacement or a way to fix what you are going through, of course, but compensation may be able to help keep your bills paid or otherwise help the family stay afloat while you try to recover.
Keep in mind that a civil action for wrongful death is different than a criminal charge of homicide. The former is brought by the survivors of the deceased, while the latter is brought by the state; the former is punished with civil fines and other remedies while the latter carries jail time. However, one person may go through both a civil and a criminal case for the same action – they simply cannot happen concurrently. Most of the time, a criminal case will happen before a civil case, because the burden of proof is higher and if someone incriminates themselves or confesses to something during a criminal trial, that evidence is usually admissible in a civil trial as well.
If your family decides to file suit against an allegedly negligent driver, you can do so on your own behalf if you do it within 90 days of your loved one’s passing, or the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate can file at any time within two years. If you file on your own behalf, be aware that Texas law only permits parents, spouses, and children to file the suit – other relatives like siblings, aunts and uncles, unfortunately, have no legal rights in Texas to do so.
Like many other negligence actions, you must be able to show that your loved one’s passing was a direct result of the defendant failing to exercise reasonable care that was owed, and that the harm they suffered was because of the defendant’s actions, with no other superseding causes. It can be difficult to establish negligence sometimes because the main person involved is not there to provide evidence, but it can be done.
Contact a New Braunfels Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Nothing will ever bring your loved one back, but it is a good thing if your family can have some financial help while you try to get back on your feet. The dedicated New Braunfels wrongful death attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are experienced with this type of law and are happy to try and help you get through what can be an incredibly difficult time in the life of your family. Contact our offices today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.