If a road accident causes the death of a passenger, the family of the victim may be in a position to pursue a claim for wrongful death against the individual responsible for the accident. That might be the person who was driving the vehicle in which the passenger was killed, it might be the driver of a different vehicle, or it might be a separate party altogether who is still culpable for the accident to some degree.
Of course, blame cannot be properly apportioned until a full investigation has been completed by law enforcement officers. In addition to that, a lawyer acting on behalf of the victim’s family may also be inclined to conduct their own investigation independently before proceeding with a wrongful death lawsuit. This will enable them to ensure all those responsible are identified.
Typically, there is a two-year limit for the filing of wrongful death lawsuits. That means those intending to file a claim must do so within two years of the date of the incident. Such claims may be filed by family members of the deceased including husband or wife, children, and parents.
How Do I Prove Wrongful Death In A Vehicle Accident?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil rather than a criminal matter. That is because the aim is to obtain monetary compensation from the accused, rather than a criminal conviction. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. For instance, as demonstrated by the notorious O.J. Simpson case, a civil suit for wrongful death may be filed against an individual who has also undergone criminal prosecution over the same incident.
For families who are looking to pursue a claim for wrongful death, it is vital to establish the following key elements of their case:
- That the death was caused either by negligence or deliberate intent on the part of the accused
- That the family is suffering financial hardship directly resulting from the victim’s death
- That the victim’s estate has a legally-appointed executor or representative
As with claims for personal injury, it is vital to demonstrate that the accident was a direct result of another person’s behavior, regardless of intent. For example, reckless driving may be established by the fact that the driver was intoxicated or on drugs at the time of the incident. Though the driver did not necessarily have any intention of causing harm to the victim, the act of driving whilst intoxicated was negligent and therefore leaves them culpable in the eyes of the law.
If you are planning to pursue a claim but don’t know where to begin, your best bet is to arrange a consultation with an experienced and professional Houston wrongful death lawyer. Part of the lawyer’s role is to determine how the person responsible should have acted, as well as explaining how they did not do so. Another good reason to hire a lawyer is if you lack the confidence or strength to take your argument to court yourself. A lawyer will be able to represent both you and the interests of your deceased loved one.