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What Happens When Someone Dies In a Car Accident?

When a loved one dies in an automobile accident, it is devastating to everyone who knew that person. You have to process the grief associated with the loss and arrange funeral and burial arrangements. The medical bills may also cause financial stress that compounds your sadness and frustration. 

You may have to discover ways to pay for these burial fees and medical bills. Your ordinary bills may also still affect your finances and your ability to feel financially secure. 

These experiences are extraordinarily painful. You need someone to help you get through this difficult period in your life. An attorney can guide you through the complex legal procedures associated with wrongful death claims. An automobile accident attorney can help you process and understand the claims you need to file and how the courts will resolve the legal issues involved. 

Consequences For The Driver

A driver who is responsible for the death of your family member or loved one might face criminal charges for the accident if the driver operated the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The driver may also face criminal charges if they drove in a reckless manner or committed road rage. 

If the driver is charged with criminal violations and is indicted, your personal injury lawyer can begin settlement negotiations with the driver’s insurance company or file civil claims against the driver for wrongful death. Criminal proceedings are carried out by the state and are separate from any civil lawsuit you may file to recover monetary compensation. 

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In some states, you can only file a wrongful death lawsuit if the decedent could have filed a lawsuit for the injuries had they survived. Only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file the lawsuit. This personal representative files the lawsuit for the decedent’s estate, and the damages awarded by the judge or jury benefit the decedent’s heirs at law, and these include the surviving spouse and children. 

The amount recovered will go directly to the heirs at law through trial or settlement. 

At-Fault Driver Liability

The at-fault driver may not be criminally liable. If the driver suffered from a medical emergency or the vehicle malfunctioned, then the driver or the insurance company will be liable, but other parties may also be liable. These are some of the parties who may be liable: 

  • A vehicle that lost control and caused another vehicle to hit your loved one may give rise to a scenario in which the second vehicle caused the death. The first driver’s actions may have led to the accident, and that driver may be liable in a court of law. 
  • The owner of the vehicle and the driver may be the same person. A person may let a friend or relative use a vehicle for the benefit of or as the owner’s agent.
  • If the leasing agent knew or should have known about a problem with the leased vehicle, then the agent or company may share in the liability. 
  • If the driver was acting within the scope of his employment and performing job responsibilities at the time of the automobile accident, then the employer may be liable.

Retaining an automobile accident attorney means the attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, and that investigation may reveal new information about parties who may be potentially liable. 

If the death of your loved one was caused by an automobile accident involving a commercial vehicle, then more parties could also be liable in a court of law. The owner of the commercial enterprise, as well as the owner of the commercial vehicle, may be liable. The company that leased the vehicle may also be liable. Your attorney may also investigate maintenance and repair crews who may be potentially liable for the accident that caused your loved one’s death. 


Injuries Capable of Causing a Wrongful Death

Wrongful death arises when a car accident victim dies as a consequence of another driver’s negligence. A car accident victim may die at the scene of the car accident or in a hospital room months after the automobile accident. Severe injuries can create complicated bodily reactions that do not respond to medical treatment or the efforts of healthcare employees. 

Injuries to the spinal cord can occur during violent automobile accidents, and these injuries are some of the most serious that can occur. Spinal cord injuries can cause permanent disability and paralysis. Extreme spinal cord injuries can place someone in a coma and even kill someone at the moment of impact. 

Another violent injury that often occurs as a result of an automobile accident is a traumatic brain injury. A victim suffering from a traumatic brain injury can die at the time the accident occurs. The victim may also die at a later date due to complications caused by the traumatic brain injury. Other victims may linger in a vegetative state after suffering from a traumatic brain injury. 

Wrongful death is one of the most difficult legal areas to contend with as a grieving parent or family member. Filing a lawsuit is one of the last things anyone wants to do after losing a parent, child, or spouse. Our experienced accident attorneys will help you deal with the insurance companies and litigation without pressuring you to contribute all of your time dealing with legal matters. 

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

A wrongful death lawsuit is not the same as a regular car accident lawsuit. The individual involved in the accident has passed away, and the person is therefore not able to file the lawsuit themselves. If your loved one has died in an automobile accident, and you want to file a legal claim on their behalf, you will have to determine if you are eligible to file the legal claims. 

Wrongful death litigation can be filed by a spouse, domestic partner, or a child of the loved one who died in a car accident. Courts and lawyers refer to this deceased person as the decedent. If the car accident victim was a minor, then the case may be filed by a guardian or parent of the child. 

If you determine that you are eligible to file the lawsuit, then you need to speak to a wrongful death lawyer. It is important to find a trustworthy and experienced attorney who can recover the financial compensation that your family deserves. 

Before a trial date is set, the case will go through a period called “discovery.” Discovery permits both sides to investigate the case, and opposing counsel will depose individuals with information related to the car accident that caused your loved one’s death. This period of discovery will feature written and oral discovery. 

If the wrongful death case doesn’t settle, it will likely go to trial, and a judge or jury will decide who was liable for causing the accident, and this will determine the outcome of the lawsuit. You need to make sure that you have experienced litigators who will be able to defend your legal rights and recover the monetary compensation you deserve. 

Call Us Today to Speak with an Austin Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you have lost someone you love because of someone else’s wrongful act, you may be able to recover compensation under Texas law. At The Patel Firm, we are dedicated to helping survivors obtain the compensation to which they are entitled and understand how important it is to obtain justice. Call our office today at (361) 400-2036 to schedule your free case evaluation.

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