That’s a scary statistic, one that should worry all of us. Yet, at the end of the day, it’s a number on a page. What that statistic doesn’t quite capture is that each one of the deceased individuals was somebody’s son, daughter, brother, parent or spouse. For every one of those wrongful deaths that occur with the vehicle accidents, there are family members, friends and coworkers whose lives are dramatically affected.
These crashes typically have two things in common. They are usually unintentional, meaning they are not done on purpose. They are also almost always the result of human error, meaning that they are caused by a driver’s mistake, carelessness or negligence.
In the legal field, deaths caused by negligence are referred to as wrongful death cases. A wrongful death claim is often filed by the survivors of a victim to seek compensation for the incredible losses they have suffered. At Guajardo & Marks, we have handled many of these cases, and we can tell you that while nothing will ever replace the loss suffered by family members, these claims can offer survivors some form of justice and provide significant assistance for the devastating financial and emotional burdens that so often occur in the wake of a fatal vehicle accident.
Causes of Wrongful Death Vehicle Crashes
Negligent drivers come in many forms. Sometimes, a driver is intoxicated and makes a fateful decision to get behind the wheel after a few too many drinks. In some cases, it is a simple glance at a cell phone that leads to a deadly auto accident. Here are a just a few examples of the common causes of deaths in vehicle accidents:
- Drunk driving: In the last few years, Texas has had more DUI accidents than any other state, with Dallas the No. 3 city in Texas for drunk driving deaths.
- Distracted driving: As cell phones and other electronic devices proliferate, more and more distracted driving accidents are causing serious injury and death on our Texas roads
- Reckless driving (including speeding, failure to yield at a traffic light, improper changing of lanes, etc.): As our society gets busier and more populated, people are in a rush to get where they want to go. This can cause them to drive in a reckless manner and risk other people’s lives
- Failure to adjust driving to the conditions of the road (such as heavy traffic or hazardous weather): Posted speed limits on Texas roads are intended for ideal conditions, but when the weather is bad, drivers are obligated to slow down and drive more cautiously.
- Defective vehicle parts: Sometimes a serious or fatal car accident can be caused by a defective vehicle part, such as brake failure, airbag failure, or other serious defect.
Where Fatal Crashes Happen
Some of the deadliest crashes occur on congested roads, many of which have higher speed limits. These roads include I-635, Highway 366, I-75, and I-35 E. These major roads and the many intersections, entrance ramps and exit ramps that connect to them can all be dangerous for drivers. But fatal crashes can also happen on rural roads and small city streets.
The Impact of Vehicle Fatalities on Families and Loved Ones
When a vehicle crash or collision causes a death, it can affect so many people in immeasurable ways. Family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors – everyone will feel the loss and grieve in their own unique ways. Unfortunately, in addition to the pain, suffering, depression and anxiety that come with the loss of a loved one, there are also major financial setbacks, including outstanding medical bills, property damage, loss of income, loss of support for children, funeral bills, burial costs and other end-of-life costs.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?
In Texas as in all states, only certain people are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Here, the parents, children and spouse of the deceased may file such a claim. A child is eligible to seek compensation for a parent’s death, even if he is over the age of 18.
Among the eligible family members, Texas does not mandate that a specific family member file the wrongful death action. Any of the eligible family members can file. Or, the family can file a joint legal claim. If none of these family members files the claim within 90 days of the death, an executor can file on behalf of the deceased’s estate. One exception is that any eligible family member can block the estate from filing the claim.
Compensation received in a wrongful death lawsuit is normally given to all family members affected by the passing of the deceased. The jury or judge may decide how the settlement or verdict will be divided. It is the responsibility of the family and their attorneys to show the personal and financial losses suffered by each member of the family so that the jury or judge can divide the funds fairly.
How Guajardo & Marks Can Help
After years of handling wrongful death cases, we understand that our role is more than just representing clients in a legal procedure. It is our job to find out just how deeply a loss affects friends and family members. We spend time with our clients and provide them assistance in every possible area to help them cope with their loss. The value of a human life is impossible to quantify in terms of dollars and cents. Our firm seeks to gain a deeper understanding of how a person impacted those around them and what their absence means for everyone their life has touched.
If you have lost a loved one because of a negligent driver, call Guajardo & Marks. We fight for our clients to make sure they are treated fairly and that they receive compensation that reflects the incredible losses they have suffered. We offer free consultations and earn no fee unless we win your case.