Losing a loved one is never easy. Even if that loss is the result of a protracted illness that allowed your family time to prepare and seek closure with your family member, it still takes months or years to process the grief that results from the death of someone you love. When that death is abrupt, potentially leaving many things unsaid and undone, it can be even harder to adjust to the loss.
When someone else causes an accident that fatally injures someone you love, it's only natural to experience shock, denial, anger and sorrow. Grieving and trying to plan a memorial service can often overwhelm someone in the first days following such an unexpected loss. It's important to take time to familiarize yourself with Texas laws about wrongful death and learn your options in the wake of a traffic-related loss.
What is wrongful death?
Under Texas law, wrongful death is any death that results from a wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness or default. In terms of traffic accidents or collisions, failing to check before turning or merging, driving while fatigued or intoxicated or focusing on a distraction, like a cellphone, could all be grounds for a wrongful death claim.
Texas law allows the spouse, child or parent of a person who dies to bring legal action against the responsible party. You can seek compensation for any direct losses as the result of the crash, as well as punitive damages in cases that involve a willful act, omission or gross negligence. Intoxicated driving, texting while operating a motor vehicle or similar situations could all potentially qualify for punitive damages in addition to actual losses associated with a crash.
Your family deserves compensation after a serious loss
While money may be the furthest thing from your mind in the aftermath of a collision, there are many negative, practical consequences from a motor vehicle crash that claims a life. Your family will lose the wages brought home by the deceased. If the person who dies was the primary wage earner for your family, that could be a very real hardship.
You will likely also incur expenses related to emergency medical and trauma care performed in an attempt to save your loved one. Those costs don't just disappear if the medical care is not successful at saving a life. There will also be expenses related to a funeral, memorial service or burial. While it's hard to put a number on these factors, you can also claim damages related to pain and mental anguish and loss of companionship due to the death.
It's true that no amount of compensation can replace what your family lost. However, receiving a judgement against the responsible party could provide your family with a source of closure and a sense of justice in the wake of a tragic loss.