Houston Fatal Car Accident Lawyer
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To learn about your legal options for recovering compensation based on losing a loved one in a collision, contact a Houston car accident lawyer at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. at 281-326-9197. We have decades of experience helping families bring wrongful death claims in Texas and we will fight for your right to recover compensation after a car accident that can help you and your family move forward after this tragedy.
Driving is much more dangerous than we care to admit, and the hazards associated with driving lead to thousands of fatalities each year. According to the National Safety Council, more than 38,000 people were killed on U.S. roads in 2015 – a significant increase from the previous year. The fatality rate rose to 11.87 deaths per 100,000 people. Much of this is because more people are back on the road for work than during the recession and driving more miles than before.
When you lose a parent, spouse, child or other family member in a car accident, your first thought may not be about recovering compensation. However, after you lay your family member to rest, the financial ramifications of the death may hit home. It is not your duty to shoulder the financial burden of losing a loved one in a car accident when the crash was caused by another driver. It is the responsibility of the at-fault driver to make you whole in so much as financial compensation can help you move forward with your life.
When You Can Recover Compensation After a Fatal Car Accident
You cannot automatically recover damages after losing a loved one in a crash. This option is only available if you have evidence that another driver was responsible for the accident. If you have this evidence, you can demonstrate to an insurer or in court that the other driver was negligent, reckless, or intentionally dangerous, which caused the accident, resulting in your family member’s death. If there is little evidence another driver caused the crash or it appears that your loved one may have been more than half at fault, you are unlikely to be able to receive compensation.
How to Recover Compensation After Losing a Loved One
After losing a loved one in a car accident, your first option for recovery is through the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. If you work with an attorney, they can file your claim with the evidence necessary to prove the other driver’s responsibility and your injuries from that driver’s negligence. A successful insurance claim can give you compensation quickly. However, common issues arise with wrongful death insurance claims. Many drivers only have the legally required amount of liability insurance. A policy limit of $30,000 may not be enough to fully compensate you for the medical expenses, funeral arrangements, lost wages, and more.
If recovering through insurance is not possible, the next step is to file a Texas wrongful death claim. You should speak with an experienced Houston car accident attorney before moving forward with a wrongful death lawsuit to make sure you address all requirements under the law.
Filing a Wrongful Death Suit
All states have specific rules regarding when and how wrongful death suits in Texas can be filed. You can only file a wrongful death suit if you are a surviving spouse, child, or parent of the deceased individual. If you were related to the person in another way, such as if you were siblings, you will not be able to recover compensation through this type of suit. However, if none of these family members choose to file a wrongful death suit separately or together, the personal representative of your loved one’s estate can file the claim on behalf of the family.
If you are in the position to file a wrongful death suit, your attorney will ensure that you file within two years of your loved one’s death. Due to the state’s statute of limitations, a claim after the two-year mark will not be heard by the court.
Compensation Through a Wrongful Death Suit
By filing a wrongful death suit in Texas, you can seek compensation for:
- Medical costs incurred prior to your loved one’s death
- Funeral expenses
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost care, support, and services provided by your loved one
- Loss of love and companionship
- Mental anguish
- Loss of potential inheritance
There are some situations in which punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are available. A court may approve punitive damages when your loved one’s death was caused by gross negligence or a willful act. These damages are not meant to compensate you. Instead, they punish the wrongdoer.
If you are the only surviving family member of the decedent, you will gain all of the damages. However, if there are multiple surviving family members, the damages are apportioned to each individual by the court based on the damages they suffered due to this loss.
Our Fatal Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
At The Krist Law Firm, P.C., our Houston personal injury attorneys understand suddenly losing a loved one in a car accident is shocking. While you are trying to grieve and care for your family, you are forced to pay for a number of unexpected expenses while facing a financial future without your family member. The consequences for you and your family could be astounding. To help you face the future after this tragedy, we can investigate the crash, gather evidence of liability, and help you gain the maximum compensation possible.
Call us today to schedule a time to talk about your case.