Any car accident is an unfortunate affair. Car accidents can range from being a minor inconvenience and some low end repairs to fatal catastrophes. In the instance where someone dies in a car accident, it is important to know the legal remedy that can be taken if the death was the result of driver negligence. This is where the circumstances of the accident will need to be evaluated to see if cause for a wrongful death suit can be made. Understanding your legal options in the event that you are ever in a situation like this is important to protect the interest of the deceased and those they may have left behind.
What is wrongful death?
Many people confuse wrongful death as a criminal charge. Wrongful death is not a criminal charge and is not subject to the same burdens of proof that a criminal charge is held to. In a wrongful death suit, the first thing that has to be assessed is who is at fault in the accident. Once that is determined, these factors must be met in order to pursue a wrongful death claim (Texas Civil Code Chapter 71):
- A spouse, children, legal beneficiaries, or dependents survive the deceased and
- The death of your loved one will result in a monetary loss.
Once these factors have been met or answered, a wrongful death claim can be filed against the responsible party for the court to adjudicate.
Understanding Comparative and Contributory Negligence
Car accident fatalities can be a tricky type of case. For instance, states have different set of doctrines that determine whether a wrongful death case can be substantiates against a person. Under the contributory negligence doctrine, if the person responsible for the accident can provide any evidence that the deceased individual contributed to the circumstances that lead to their death, their surviving beneficiaries will receive nothing in a wrongful death claim. Under the comparative negligence doctrine, the amount of an award can be reduced by the deceased individual’s contribution to the cause of the fatality. For instance, if a person causes an accident, but it is determined that the decedent was texting while driving, the award to the beneficiaries can be reduced by the percentage that the court determines that the texting contributed to the person’s death.
Wrongful Death Litigation
A wrongful death claim is significantly different than a standard personal injury case. Due to the complexities surrounding the burden of proof, it is important to have an attorney that is experienced with navigating the case law that is required to successfully present a case. With a personal injury case, the soft records of the injury can be used to provide documentation of the damages, but in a wrongful death claim that type of documentation is not as easy to obtain. Having a San Antonio wrongful death attorney who can fight for the appropriate amount of compensation to assist the living beneficiaries with life after the person’s death is something that takes skill, compassion, and knowledge of the law.
If you have questions about filing a wrongful death claim, finding the right representation is essential. Our team of attorneys have vast experience in wrongful death claims and will do everything that we can to get the best possible result for the family members left behind. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn how our expertise can work for you.