A true tragedy occurred in Austin recently, when a Mercedes-Benz struck a Hummer on its passenger side, injuring two young children. One of the children, a nine-year-old girl, died from her injuries on April 4, while the other underwent potentially life-saving surgery. The Mercedes driver was treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries and was later arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). In addition to the major criminal charges that the driver may face given the young girl’s passing, it is possible he may be sued in civil court by the family, to try and collect damages for her wrongful death. If you have lost a loved one, especially a minor, to the negligence or recklessness of another person, you have the right to try and hold them accountable, even if they already face criminal charges.
No Replacing A Lost Loved One
If you and your family have lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, you may be able to recover monetary compensation – not to replace the lost person in your life but to hopefully help your family stay on its financial feet while you adjust to the loss of that person. You may be able to recover for both tangible (also called economic) and intangible (non-economic) damages, including (but not limited to) lost wages, funeral expenses and last medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of inheritance, and several other potential causes of action.
Generally, Texas law holds that a cause of action for wrongful death exists if someone’s passing can be directly linked to the negligence, wrongful act, carelessness, or unskillfulness of another person. For example, if someone is killed in an auto accident because their brakes failed, a mechanic who negligently failed to notice a problem might possibly be liable for that person’s death because they ought to have noticed and fixed the issue. Only a surviving spouse, parents, or children can file a wrongful death claim in Texas.
Time Limit On Filing Suit
One thing to remember about the whole legal process is that you must act fast. It can feel pointless or even insulting to your loved one’s memory to try and think about the legal process while you and yours are still in mourning. However, there is a time limit in which one is able to file a claim for wrongful death. This is referred to as the statute of limitations, and it exists because over time, both physical evidence and people’s memories tend to decay – if cases took too long to come to court, there would be far less guarantee that any of the evidence would still be accurate. In Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident in which to file – which sounds like a lot, but it passes very quickly.
This time limit can become a bit confusing if your case will also involve criminal issues. In the case of the driver of the Mercedes, the family of the little girl who passed away might conceivably think they cannot file a civil suit because he already faces criminal charges. In truth, this is not the case; civil and criminal procedures are not considered the same for Fifth Amendment purposes, so no double jeopardy attaches even if one person faces both. One suit may have to follow the other – usually, the civil proceedings will follow the criminal proceedings, because the standard of proof is higher in criminal court – but both can be mounted against the same person.
Contact A New Braunfels Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Every accident is different, but some will, unfortunately, have more tragic outcomes than others. If you have lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, it is not possible to replace them, but you can try to help your family move on. The skilled New Braunfels wrongful death attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are able to provide experienced and understanding representation for you and yours in the midst of a difficult time. Contact us today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.