Not all fatal auto accidents in Texas will result in a wrongful death claim. Many motor vehicle accidents that result in a fatality are actually just accidents that happen due to driver error but not rising to the level of gross negligence that is typically present when an accident death is considered malicious. Some fatalities are merely accidental. There must be specific evidence of egregious activity by a negligent driver for wrongful death damages to be awarded by a jury. While many settlements are reached in certain types of cases, such as truck accidents with multiple defendants, most cases requesting punitive damages must be awarded by a jury following a full trial.
Evidence of drunk driving
The first scenario where an auto accident can also result in a wrongful death claim is when a negligent driver registers a blood-alcohol content level beyond .08. And even then, merely being above the minimum level does not necessarily indicate the negligent driver was showing reckless disregard for life. Cases where the driver registers in aggravated DUI charge levels could indeed justify a wrongful death legal action.
Excessive speed and wanton endangerment
Horrific auto accidents that result in a fatality also commonly include evidence of willful wanton endangerment or excessive speeding. This can assuredly be grounds for vehicular homicide charges that are often part of an overall investigation into the incident. Of course, these are criminal charges that are separate from the civil actions for financial compensation, and they can sometimes be fruitless when the state intervenes first with a long incarceration term.
It is important to remember that a wrongful death case is similar to a personal injury claim in that it is the most serious type. However, the damages sought are primarily focused on financial recovery for the immediate family.