Car accidents claim the lives of hundreds of people in Houston each year. These accidents are tragedies, and many of them are entirely preventable. At The Stano Law Firm, our car accident lawyers have seen the consequences of speeding, intoxication, and fatigue. We know the devastating families feel when they receive a call at home telling them a loved one has died. There must be a way to seek justice for your family, and compensation for your losses.
If a loved one perished in a Houston car accident, please contact our law firm today. You might have the capacity to bring a wrongful death claim against the person responsible for the death. Let our Houston fatal car accidents lawyer explain more in a consultation.
How Common are Fatal Car Accidents in Texas?
Unfortunately, fatal accidents are common in Texas. In 2022, Houston saw 308 fatal accidents, claiming the lives of 326 people. These were just a fraction of the deaths across the state from motor vehicle collisions.
The Texas Department of Transportation’s most recent annual report shows:
- 4,481 people were killed in a car accident in 2021. By comparison, 4,497 people were killed in 2021 on Texas roadways.
- The fatality rate for Texas was 1.55 deaths for each 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
- Accidents in rural areas accounted for a little more than 50% of deaths.
- More than a third of all deaths were single vehicle accidents where a car was run off the road.
- 1,030 people died in accidents happening around intersections.
The deadliest month in 2022 was September, with 427 people killed. The least deadly month was February, with 322 fatalities.
What Causes Fatal Car Accidents in Houston?
Fatal accidents are caused by many of the same factors that lead to non-fatal wrecks. The most common reasons for fatal accidents include:
- Speeding. The faster a vehicle is going, the more force it will generate when it collides with another car. A car also needs more space to stop when it is traveling fast.
- Drunk driving. An intoxicated motorist will make many errors while driving and is at risk of falling asleep. Drunk driving is linked to roughly 1 in 4 fatal accidents in Texas—a huge problem.
- Driver inattention. Distracted drivers cause many accidents because they cannot see someone in their path and therefore do not hit the brakes in time.
- Unsafe lane changes. A person might change lanes without checking their mirrors, which leads to a collision with another car or motorcycle on the road.
- Failure to yield. Many fatal accidents are caused by motorists who run a red light, refuse to stop at a stop sign, or fail to yield on the freeway.
- Defective tires. When tires lose their tread, they can no longer grip the road. They are also more likely to blow. A motorist will be unable to stop in time.
Piecing together what happened is critical in fatal accident cases. If you were involved in the crash, call the police as soon as possible to come out. You might also need to call to request an ambulance.
Wrongful Death Cases in Houston
Texas law gives some family members the right to file a wrongful death action after losing a loved one. This is a civil action for money damages after the wrongful death of a family member. Fatal car accidents qualify when a motorist was careless or reckless behind the wheel and struck your loved one. You might also sue if a defect on the car led to the fatal accident.
Family members may seek financial compensation (called damages) for:
- Loss of financial support provided by the deceased
- Loss of household services provided by the deceased
- Surviving family members’ pain and mental anguish
- Loss of companionship, society, and love
- Lost savings or inheritance
The amount you might receive will depend on many factors, including your loved one’s age and income, as well as how much they supported you financially.
The deadline for filing this lawsuit is two years, with the clock starting on the day your loved one died. If you miss the deadline, your claim will be barred. Texas gives the surviving spouse, children, and parents the initial right to file the claim in court. However, if they don’t file in three months, then the personal representative for the estate must file.
The estate might also file a survival action, seeking compensation for medical bills and the deceased’s conscious pain and suffering. Call The Stano Law Firm. We have experience with both wrongful death and survival actions and can guide your case through the court system.
The Seat Belt Defense & Comparative Negligence
Texas has a proportionate responsibility law found at Section 33.001 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. This statute says that a person cannot seek compensation if they are more than 50% responsible for the accident. Section 33.012 says that a claimant’s damages are reduced in an equal percentage to their share of responsibility. So someone who is 40% at fault can still sue—but they receive 40% less.
These rules apply to wrongful death cases. We need to look closely at what actions your loved one took before the fatal collision. Are they in any way responsible for the collision? Were they speeding? Did they run a red light?
If so, then their percentage of fault matters. You might be unable to sue if your loved one bore most of the blame for the accident. If their share of responsibility was less than 50%, then you will receive less compensation.
One question that arises is whether failing to wear a seatbelt makes someone responsible for an accident. Unfortunately, the failure to buckle up might negatively impact your case. Texas courts have begun to allow defendants to raise the seat belt defense. We will review all facts to see if we can minimize any contributory negligence from your loved one.
Compassionate Legal Representation for Fatal Car Accidents in Houston
The Stano Law Firm has negotiated many settlements for clients who lost a spouse, parent or child in a car wreck. We will gladly meet with anyone who has questions in a free consultation. Get in touch with us today by filling a form or call us at (832) 777-0390.