Wrongful Death Suits; Texting and Driving

 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  driving while talking or texting on the cell phone claimed the lives of 3,477 people in 2015 alone. A study conducted in 2012 found that 660,000 American drivers use their cell phones while driving. Thirty-eight of the fifty states and the District of Columbia have anti-texting laws. Many states are moving towards bringing criminal charges against drivers convicted of causing fatalities while texting and driving, including motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Texting and Wrongful Death Lawsuits.

Texting while driving is not only distracting, it’s negligent. It has been said to be the equivalent of driving while intoxicated. In some states, if texting was a contributing factor in a fatal car accident, the victim’s family can file a wrongful death action.

Many wrongful death actions arise out of car accidents. Wrongful death actions are civil law litigations that allow a decedent’s representative to get money damages (for the estate) caused by the tort committed by the defendant – in this case, texting while driving.

And when it comes to texting and driving wrongful death actions, the damages awarded can be astronomical. Consider this case:

  • A Florida jury awarded $8.8 million to the family of a woman who was killed by a young male driver who was speeding and texting his girlfriend.

Even where the victim does not die, but is injured, the damage awards can be significant, as in these cases:

  • A jury awarded a 15-year-old car accident victim in Georgia, $1.5 million for injuries she received when a texting driver hit her mother’s car.
  • In Florida, a woman who suffered traumatic brain injury and was left permanently disabled due to a distracted driver accident, was awarded $4.3 million.

No amount of money will ever compensate these victims or their families for their loss, of course. Nevertheless, it is clear that juries do not hesitate to award hefty damages in texting and driving cases not only where death ensues but where people are injured as well.

Limitations on Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action.

A wrongful death claimant may be able to recover for  the loss of financial, household support he or she would have gotten had their loved one lived, as well as for the loss of love, companionship, moral support, affection, and consortium. However, not just anyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit. These actions are governed by statute. And each state has its own wrongful death statute. The only way to be certain whether you may be entitled to recover for the wrongful death of a loved one who was killed in a car accident due to texting and driving is to consult with competent counsel.

Don’t Text and Drive.

If you or someone you love has been killed or injured by a driver where texting and driving was or may have been a contributing factor to the accident, get in touch with us. We have offices in Salem, Medford, Bend, Portland, Eugene Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. You can call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

Wrongful Death Explained

Some of the saddest situations we encounter concern wrongful death lawsuits.

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When someone dies or is killed as the result of the negligence or actions of another—  including murder —the surviving members of the victim’s family can bring a civil lawsuit for “wrongful death.” Because wrongful death is a civil tort, and not Penal Code violation, the legal standard for proving that the defendant wrongfully caused the death of the victim is far less than that required in criminal cases. As a result, it makes it easier to prove, especially where the civil case is based on the criminal case, as in a murder situation.

On the other hand, even if the surviving members of the victim’s family prove their case against the defendant, the defendant will not go to jail. Instead, he will be required to pay the family damages (i.e., money). That is not to say that the person who commits murder or commits other crimes associated with the victim’s death cannot or will not be prosecuted criminally, either before or after the civil case. The point is only that in a civil lawsuit, the remedy is money damages. In a criminal case, it is incarceration and restitution.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit can only be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This type of lawsuit is the governed by statute. Each State has its own statutes governing wrongful death actions.

Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death.

Many wrongful death actions arise out of car accidents, fights, medical malpractice, job injuries, or criminal activity. Wrongful death actions allow the decedent’s representative to get money damages (for the estate) caused by the tort. In addition, decedent’s representative can recover for the pain and suffering that the victim endured before death. This is because the personal injury action survives the death of the person who suffered the injury. “Survival actions” as they are called, can be brought to get compensation for the pain and suffering the victim endured.

Personal Injury Attorneys.

If you or someone you love has been injured or died because of another’s negligence or willful misconduct, call us. We can help. We have offices in Washington and throughout Oregon. To set up your free consultation, give us a call or send us an email .