The unfortunate reality is that fatal car accidents occur every day. Losing someone in a car accident can be one of the most traumatic experiences imaginable, but a wrongful death claim may allow you a way to pursue a financial settlement.
If you have lost a loved one in Texas in a fatal car accident, you might be wondering what you can do. Know that you are not alone. The attorneys at Grossman Law Offices have the experience necessary to help you through your wrongful death case and this difficult time.
Is There an “Average” Car Accident Wrongful Settlement in Texas?
In short, no. There is no “average” amount you can expect to get in a car accident wrongful death settlement in Texas. However, it is important to understand the basics of a wrongful death action and the key factors involved. This can help determine what your settlement might be worth.
An experienced attorney can assess your case and help determine your potential recovery under your specific facts and circumstances. Read on to learn more about wrongful death cases in Texas and what might impact your settlement.
What Types of Car Collisions Commonly Result in Fatalities?
Car collisions are unfortunately all too common, and many do result in fatalities. Some of the most common types of car accidents that result in fatalities include the following:
- Truck accidents;
- Drunk driving accidents;
- Texting and distracted driving incidents;
- Driver fatigue cases; and
- Vehicle product and manufacturing defects.
If any of the above types of car accidents have resulted in the death of a family member, you may be entitled to damages. A wrongful death action might provide you with an avenue for recovery.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action?
It is also important to take note of who can file a wrongful death claim. There are a limited number of parties that can benefit from bringing an action. Under Section 71.004 of the Texas Wrongful Death Statute, only the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased are able to bring a wrongful death suit. Family members who are specifically excluded from filing a claim under the statute include siblings, grandparents, and other extended family members.
However, if none of these individuals who are entitled to bring an action have done so within three months after the death of the individual, an executor or administrator of the estate may do so instead.
Who Can Be Liable in a Car Accident Wrongful Death Claim?
Technically, any person who meets the statutory requirements can be liable in a car accident wrongful death claim. Section 71.002 of the Texas Wrongful Death Statute defines when a person is liable for wrongful death in Texas.
Under the statute, a person can be liable for wrongful death if: (1) they caused injury to another that resulted in that person’s death; and (2) the injury was “caused by the person’s or his agent’s or servant’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.”
Essentially, if a person’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default causes the death of another, they can be liable in a wrongful death action.
What Factors Must Exist for a Fatal Car Accident to be a “Wrongful” Death?
To prove liability for a wrongful death case, certain factors must exist. Primarily, to show that the death was “wrongful,” the claimant must prove that a person’s death was caused by the neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default. Legally, this means that the person that caused the death must have been negligent in some way.
To prove a negligence claim, you must prove the following:
- Duty. A legal duty must exist. For example, all drivers on the road owe other drivers a duty of care to safely operate their vehicles at all times.
- Breach. The party must breach their duty of care for a death to be considered “wrongful.” This could look like texting while driving or driving while intoxicated. By committing one of these acts, a driver would breach their duty of care by putting the lives of other drivers in danger.
- Causation. The party bringing a claim must be able to prove that the liable party’s breach of the duty of care was the cause of the accident and the death of their loved one.
- Damages. Lastly, damages, such as medical and funeral expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering must exist. Also, specifically with respect to a wrongful death action, it is not enough that a party sustained injuries. They must have died as a result of their injuries to constitute a wrongful death.
If all of the above factors exist, you may have a valid claim for wrongful death. But the key point to remember is that the person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” caused the death of another party. If someone was driving under circumstances a reasonably responsible person would not have been, and their actions caused the death of another, the death may be considered “wrongful.”
What Factors Will Most Impact the Amount of a Car Accident Wrongful Death Settlement?
Every case is different, but there are certain factors that will frequently impact the amount of a car accident wrongful death settlement. Generally, the amount of your settlement will depend on the amount of damages involved.
The two main categories of legal damages are economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are typically those that compensate a party or parties for specific monetary amounts that they incur as a result of their loved one’s passing. Examples of economic damages include the following:
- Medical expenses,
- Funeral expenses, and
- Loss of the deceased’s wages.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, typically compensate family members for their emotional injuries. Non-economic damages often include the following:
- Pain and suffering,
- Loss of companionship, and
- Emotional distress.
The more damages a wrongful death claimant suffers, the more likely they will receive a larger settlement. It is also important to note that although economic damages are generally easier to calculate, courts will often award greater amounts to compensate for non-economic injuries. As such, wrongful death settlements will likely be larger where emotional, non-economic damages are greater.
What Are Some Examples of Car Accident Wrongful Death Settlements that Grossman Law Offices has Achieved?
Do I Need Any Attorney to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
An attorney may not be necessary in every case. However, wrongful death claims often require the assistance of an attorney to help you through a difficult time while navigating such a complicated legal process.
If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful actions of another party, we want to help. Contact the attorneys at Grossman Law Offices today to talk through your claim and discuss your options and potential recovery.