• By: Graham Sutliff
  • Published: December 2021

Every year, there are thousands of fatal accidents across the U.S. Fatal car crashes are devastating and not only affect the victim but their families that are left behind. Losing a loved one to a car crash can be an extremely emotional and stressful experience, making it challenging to take the steps needed to pursue justice. If you have lost a loved one to a car accident, it’s important to work with a skilled personal injury lawyer.

While there is no monetary amount that can make up for your loss, an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit to ensure you receive some compensation for your tragic loss. Here is some important information to know about pursuing legal action after a loved one dies in a car accident.

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Can I Pursue Criminal Charges Against the At-Fault Driver?

There are a wide variety of factors that cause fatal car accidents, ranging from poor weather conditions to intoxicated driving. Whether or not the at-fault driver can face criminal charges will depend on the circumstances surrounding the accident. After a fatal crash, law enforcement officials will conduct an investigation at the scene of the crash. The resulting police report will help to provide context to the cause of the crash and person(s) at fault. Most commonly, car accidents—including fatal crashes—do not result in criminal charges. However, there are certain scenarios in which a driver can face criminal charges including:

  • Intoxicated driving. In Texas, it is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If it is found that the at-fault driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, they may face criminal charges.
  • Reckless driving. By law, reckless driving is defined as any situation in which a driver has “ willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others or personal property.” If the at-fault driver was driving in a reckless manner, they may face criminal charges.

These are some scenarios in which the at-fault driver may face criminal charges. If the District Attorney decides to file a criminal suit, they will reach out to the family. However, how the case progresses is largely out of the family’s control. In general, the best way a family can pursue justice is by filing a civil lawsuit.

What to Know About Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The immediate family of the victim can pursue civil justice by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This action allows the family members left behind to receive compensation for the losses they have experienced as a result of their loved one’s death. In Texas, some of the damages you can pursue compensation for in a wrongful death suit include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of financial support
  • Punitive damages
  • Mental and emotional suffering
  • Funeral and burial costs

It is important to note that in Texas, only immediate family members of the victim have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. Immediate family members include the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the victim. In accordance with the Texas statute of limitations, a family must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the accident date.

Contact the Wrongful Death Personal Injury Lawyers at Sutliff & Stout

No person should have to lose a loved one in a car crash due to another driver’s negligent actions. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident near Houston, it’s essential to contact a skilled wrongful death lawyer. At Sutliff & Stout, we understand the stress and devastation accompanied by fatal car accidents and are dedicated to taking a personalized approach to every case. Our firm has been recognized as one of the top 3 personal injury law firms in Houston, and our team has helped thousands of individuals with their car accident claims.

If you are looking to discuss your car accident case with a personal injury lawyer, the team at Sutliff & Stout is here to help. Call us today at (713) 405-1263 or contact us online to discuss your injury or car accident claim.

About the Author

Graham Sutliff is a founding partner at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Among other awards and certifications, he is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and has been recognized by Thomson Reuters as a Super Lawyer for the past decade. In 2019 alone, Graham recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients who were injured by others. To learn more about Graham, click here.

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