Every year thousands of Texans are killed or seriously injured by the negligence of drunk drivers, intoxicated drivers, and drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Many of the people who are killed by drunk and intoxicated drivers leave behind spouses, parents, children, and other loved ones that are devastated by their loss. This article is designed to provide general information regarding Texas law to families that have lost a loved one in a fatal drunk driver collision or have had a loved one permanently injured through the wrongful actions of a drunk driver. For specific information on a particular case, it is important to contact an experienced Texas lawyer familiar with fatal accidents, catastrophic injury crashes, and drunk driver collisions.
The Grieving Process: Aftermath of a Fatal Collision
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences that we can go through. This is especially true when the loss is a result of a sudden, accidental, unexpected or traumatic death. This sudden loss can shatter the world as we know it and make us realize that life is not always fair and leave us feeling shaken, unsure and vulnerable.
The grief response following sudden loss is often intensified because there is little to no opportunity to prepare for the loss, say good-bye, finish unfinished business or prepare for bereavement. Families and friends are suddenly forced to face the loss of a loved one instantaneously and without warning. This type of loss can generate intense grief responses such as shock, anger, guilt, sudden depression, despair, hopelessness, and 'complicated mourning'. Complicated mourning occurs when the loss is perceived as sudden, preventable, or the victim is young.
Along with the primary loss of the person, families and loved ones may experience concurrent crises and multiple secondary losses: lost income, loss of home, loss of social status, loss of emotional support, loss of financial support, loss of caretaker, loss of bill payer. The role the loved one held in the family is gone. It takes time for the family to reorganize. The family may be left feeling in a state of perpetual disarray with a lingering sense of unease and disorganization. Marital and other family relationships can become strained. Additionally, there are other immediate issues that can come up including dealing with funeral arrangements, probate issues, medical expenses, pending criminal charges against the drunk driver, and the loss of income. These issues can often prevent a person from seeking assistance in investigating and potentially filing a wrongful death and survival action civil lawsuit against the drunk driver.
Texas Fatal Injury Law Suits and Claims: Texas Survival Action Claims, Texas Insurance Claims, and Texas Wrongful Death Claims (Be Aware of Potential 2 Year Statutes of Limitation on some Claims)
Under Texas law, Parents, Children, and Spouses of persons killed by drunk drivers have potential wrongful death claims against the drunk driver that killed their mother, father, husband, wife, son, or daughter. Through these wrongful death lawsuits and survival actions the relatives of a person killed by a drunk driver can often recover from the drunk driver's insurance company, the drunk driver, parent that provided alcohol to minors that were driving, or the bar where the drunk was drinking.
The Wrongful Death Claim
seeks money compensation for the parents, spouse and
children of the decedent based on a variety of factors
- Loss of love, companionship, comfort, assistance, protection, affection or care
- Loss of financial support
- Lost benefits, such as insurance, from the death
- Loss of inheritance from an untimely death
It is however important to realize that there is a two year statute of limitation on these wrongful death lawsuits. Though it is often difficult to deal with the loss of a loved one immediately after losing the person, it is extremely important not to wait beyond two year to act or the cause of action may be lost.
Also under Texas law, the estate of the person that was killed has a potential claim called a "survival action". The survival action are claims for what the decedent would have recovered had the person survived the accident. These claims travel through the decedent's estate and either go to their heirs or beneficiaries depending if the person had done any estate planning. These damages include:
- Expenses associated with the death
including funeral costs
- Medical expenses prior to the death
- Pain and suffering associated with the untimely death
In addition to seeking compensation from defendants responsible for the accidental death of a loved one, insurance can often provide compensation for the loss of a loved one. Accidental Death Policies, Life Insurance Policies, Homeowners Insurance, General Commercial Insurance Policies, UM policies, and Automobile Accident Liability Policies are all types of insurance that can compensate widows and Texas families for the accidental death of a loved one in a drunk driver accident. Most insurance policies must be triggered within a certain time of the death or injury and will not be automatically triggered. A formal demand typically must be made to trigger these insurance policies.
The Grieving Process: Aftermath of a Catastrophic Injury Collision (Statutes and Insurance Notice Deadlines)
In addition to losing a loved one, a catastrophic injury caused by drunk driver collision can also shatter the world of a family as we know it. Having a loved one suffer severe brain damage, loss of use of their arms or legs, suffering severe back injuries, or suffering multiple bone fractures can create large medical expenses, the need for 24 hour in home nursing care, lost income, end of a career, loss of a care taker, and many other damages that can dramatically change a family's world.
Not only does the family have to deal with the loss of their world, they also need to focus on preparing and rebuilding their lives. In these situations, it can also be difficult to find the time and energy to find a good Texas lawyer that can assist the family in investigating and potentially filing a catastrophic injury lawsuit.
Texas Catastrophic Injury Law Suits and Claims: Texas Minors' Claims, Texas Parents' Claims, and Texas Insurance Claims
There are also several different types of compensation that may be available under Texas law and insurance coverage to people injured in a vehicle collision. One of the most misunderstood claims in that of minors. When a minor is severely injured in a collision both the minor and the minor's parents or guardians may have claims under Texas law for different types of damages. While the minor's claims typically exist until two years after the minor's 18th birthday, the parent's claims for the medical expenses typically only are viable for two years after the statute of limitations. It is important to discuss these potential claims and any other potential claims that may exist under Texas law or insurance policies with an experienced Texas lawyer that understands catastrophic injury cases.
Avoiding Opportunists and Vultures
Unfortunately, after a fatal or catastrophic injury crash, numerous unethical people will often contact families to take advantage of the situation. From case runners working for chiropractors and unethical lawyers to insurance adjusters looking to avoid liability, families of those killed or severely injured are too often the target of opportunists that will start contacting a family after collision. Most troubling are those that show up or call after a collision.
In dealing with these opportunists, it is important not to sign away any rights or give a recorded statement until you have had the opportunity to speak with an experienced catastrophic injury or fatal collision lawyer.
Boating and Driving Under the Influence is against Texas Law
Driving on our roads is a necessary risk we all have to take, but driving becomes increasingly dangerous with drunk drivers are carelessly and recklessly driving on our roads. In Texas, there are laws against drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but too many drivers do not respect these laws and recklessly drive causing many automobile collisions.
Under Texas law, a driver is considered drunk or under the influence if they do not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body or if they have a blood alcohol concentration of over .08. And it is against Texas law for drunk drivers to operate motor vehicles, water craft, and air craft. If the drunk driver causes an automobile accident or boating accident that causes serious injuries or death, they can be charged under Texas law with intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter both serious felonies.
Texas Employer, Homeowner, Fraternity, Bar & Night Club Law Suits
Drunk Driver Automobile collisions can also be caused by businesses, homeowners, employers, and fraternities that knowingly serve patrons too much alcohol. This is especially true if they are aware of the drunk driver driving under the influence in the past and are supplying the drunk driver with alcohol and/or a vehicle. There are also many bars, night clubs, party hosts, and restaurants that promote excessive drinking and serve customers that have already drunk too much alcohol. Under Texas law a bar, night club, or restaurant that serves a drunk person alcohol can be held liable if they let that intoxicated person drive and the intoxicated person causes a serious or fatal automobile accident. For more information on Texas Dram Shop lawsuits, go to our page on Texas Dram Shop Claims.
Texas Drunk Driver Lawsuits and Working with District Attorneys to Investigate Drunk Driver Collisions for Criminal and Civil Actions
Texas DWI Accident Lawyer Jason Coomer works with district attorneys to make sure that drunk drivers that cause serious accidents are prosecuted as well as seeks compensation for the families that have lost loved ones due to drunk drivers.
He has also worked hard to prevent future fatal accidents and make sure that fatal accidents do not occur in the same manner. Through his efforts, policies and safety regulations throughout North America have been changed to make work places safer. He has also worked hard to obtain compensation for those left behind including reimbursement for medical bills, funeral costs, lost future earnings, pain & suffering, and other damages suffered.
Whether a person is accidentally killed by a hazardous defect or the carelessness of another, individuals often need assistance in dealing with and seeking just compensation from insurance companies and large corporations. Corporations that carelessly kill a person will all too often spend a lot of money fighting the claim instead of compensating the family for the loss and fixing the problem. Unfortunately, insurance companies are often the same way. Having an experienced wrongful death attorney on your side can force large corporations and insurance companies to do the right thing and value life and safety above profits.
If you have lost a loved one and that loved one was killed through the negligence of a drunk driver, Jason Coomer is available to review and investigate your potential wrongful death claim. Please feel free to e-mail Texas Drunk Driver Collision Lawyer Jason Coomer with your name & contact information, the name of the person that was killed, the date the person was killed or injured, how the person was killed or injured, and who you think was responsible for the wrongful death or collision.