When a family member passes away in a motor vehicle accident, it can be devastating to their loved ones left behind. If the person’s death was caused by the negligence or misconduct of other driver, the surviving family members may want to pursue a wrongful death claim to hold that driver accountable.
Wrongful death claim
In Texas, the wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date of the person’s passing. The claim must be filed by the deceased person’s spouse, child, parents or the representative of his or her estate.
Those parties may be able to recover monetary compensation for the loss of their loved one. This includes compensation for loss of financial support, loss of companionship, mental anguish, pain and suffering, medical bills and funeral costs.
Considerations for awarding damages
Even if the person who passed away was not employed, the parties may still be entitled to compensation. This may be applicable if the deceased person was a stay-at-home parent, for example. While he or she may not have provided financial support to the family, the court may consider the nurturing, support and services he or she provided in determining the award.
Also, if even if the deceased person was a child or elderly person, the parties may still be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. The amount awarded may be smaller, depending on the deceased person’s earnings and other factors.
In some situations, punitive damages may also be available. These damages are intended to punish the other driver and generally apply if the other driver caused the person’s death because of an extreme level of negligence.
It’s important to seek guidance and advice as soon as possible after the person’s death in order for the parties to preserve their right to file a claim.