Fatal car accidents can result in sudden trauma across multiple generations of people. Friends and family members of the deceased can suffer emotionally as well as financially. When these accidents happen, a wrongful death lawyer could help pursue justice through a civil suit.
Negligence is frequently a factor in fatal traffic accidents. In order to hold the negligent party accountable, it is important to avoid any delay. A successful wrongful death case takes time to prepare. Let a Dallas fatal car accident lawyer from Domingo Garcia advise you on how best to proceed during this difficult time. Founded 35 years ago, with settlements and verdicts reaching over $7 million, our firm has the experience you need to see justice done.
Fatal Accidents and Wrongful Death Lawsuits
When an act of negligence results in a fatal vehicle collision, civil lawsuits are common. The impact on the surviving family—both in emotional and financial terms—can be severe. Wrongful death lawsuits are an avenue that allows surviving relatives to seek justice through civil action. If successful, these lawsuits provide financial compensation to surviving relatives.
Not all relatives have the right to pursue a wrongful death action following a fatal car accident. The right to pursue a wrongful death action rests with the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, and parents. One of these individuals could file the case, or a group of them could file it together.
In instances where months go by without any of the immediate family filing a wrongful death action, the estate of the decedent also has the power to pursue this type of lawsuit. If successful, the last will and testament determines how to distribute the proceeds from a wrongful death suit. If no will is in place, state law determines how to distribute the proceeds among the heirs.
Types of Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
There are different categories of monetary damages available in these cases. These damages—which are the losses sustained by the surviving relatives—could be emotional or financial in nature. These include:
The emotional pain and anguish suffered by the surviving relatives could serve as the basis for compensation. The sudden death of a loved one left a lasting impact on the surviving relatives and that trauma deserves compensation.
Lost Earning Capacity
The sudden and unexpected passing of a family member can also have serious financial consequences for those who depended on them. A civil suit could seek compensation for the lost earning capacity of the deceased that the family members would have relied on.
The death of a loved one means more than lost financial support. It also involves the loss of advice and counsel that person provided. In addition, there are also the lost services and household maintenance that the decedent performed during their lifetime.
The death of a loved one can also impact the inheritance surviving relatives receive. Had the decedent lived longer, that inheritance could be substantially larger. That lost inheritance could serve as the basis for financial compensation in a wrongful death case.
The Deadline to File a Fatal Accident Lawsuit
Like with any lawsuit, there is a time limit that applies to a wrongful death case resulting from a fatal car accident. The deadline in these cases—known as the statute of limitations—is one of the major pitfalls that come with pursuing any type of legal action. If you delay your case for too long and file after the deadline expires, you could miss your chance to seek justice entirely.
In Dallas, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 16.003 governs the statute of limitations on a fatal car accident case. According to the statute, it is necessary to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of your loved one’s passing. It is important to note that this does not always mean within two years of the date the fatal accident occurred, given that some people do not pass away immediately.
The consequences of failing to comply with the statute of limitations are significant. Unless a rare exception is available, the court will likely dismiss your case with prejudice. This type of dismissal bars you from ever seeking compensation for the loss of your loved one again.
Common Factors in Fatal Car Accidents
Fatal car accidents are unfortunately common in Dallas and throughout the state. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 4,489 traffic fatalities in 2021 alone. This represented a 15 percent increase in traffic deaths from the year prior.
There are a number of reasons why these fatal accidents occur. No two accidents are the same, but certain factors are frequently present in motor vehicle collisions with fatal injuries. Some of those factors include:
A large number of fatal vehicle accidents involve human error. These errors could be something relatively minor, like taking a turn too fast or failing to use a turn signal. Reckless driving behavior is also a frequent factor in these fatal accidents.
Fatal motor vehicle crashes frequently involve impaired drivers. Impairment from drugs or alcohol can have a major impact on a person’s ability to drive safely due to reduced decision-making abilities and slowed reaction times.
While the choices and actions of drivers are frequently responsible for vehicle accidents, that is not the case every time. Some fatal accidents occur due to dangerous defects in the vehicle itself. Defective vehicles or vehicle parts have the potential to cause devastating accidents.
Talk to an Attorney About a Fatal Car Accident
You deserve compassionate legal counsel that will aggressively help you in your pursuit of justice. The unexpected death of a loved one in a fatal accident is always traumatic, but that is especially the case when negligence played a part. The right legal team could manage the complex legal case related to your loved one’s death while you focus on your family.
Do not attempt to pursue justice alone. A Dallas fatal car accident lawyer could provide you with strong legal counsel and guide you through this difficult process. Reach out to the Domingo Garcia Law Office right away for a free consultation.