A Fatal Motorcycle Accident
In October 2014, Joseph Berry (30 years old) was riding his motorcycle when he struck by a vehicle driven by Teodoro Estrada who was passing through the Sansom Park area on the edge of Fort Worth. Mr. Berry was rushed to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital where he was pronounced dead just hours later. Reports indicate that Mr. Estrada may be charged with making an illegal turn, driving without a license, and driving without insurance.
A Matter of Negligence
The driver may also face negligence claims in civil court. Negligence is when someone owes a duty of care to another person and fails in providing it, leading to an injury or death.
This breach of duty may be shown if the driver failed to act in a reasonable manner while driving. Since an illegal turn may have triggered this accident, the principle of “negligence per se” can be used to show that the driver is responsible for damages. Negligence per se is when a person violates a safety ordinance, and that violation leads to the death or injury of another person. Under the law of negligence per se, the violation of a safety ordinance is used to prove that a breach of duty has occurred. This is allowed because there is a presumption that we all owe a duty to obey safety ordinances.
Receiving Damages for Wrongful Death
Even though Mr. Berry died as a result of the accident, damages may still be claimed by surviving family members. Certain relatives can sue a negligent driver in a wrongful death action. In Texas, the law allows surviving relatives to sue for two categories of damages. The first category allows relatives to claim damages that the deceased victim personally suffered (this includes medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of life, and loss of any property that was damaged in the accident). The second category allows the relatives to sue for their own losses, including loss of companionship, funeral expenses, loss of the victim’s earnings, and mental anguish.
What Happens when the Defendant is Uninsured?
There is a potential problem when collecting monetary damages from an uninsured motorist. In situations like this, a victim’s relatives might be able to collect damages by leveraging a negligent driver’s income or property in order to obtain compensatory funds.
However, Section 42.001 of the Texas Property Code shields a large amount of personal property from this type of recovery. Furthermore, an uninsured driver often lacks the assets required to cover medical bills and other expenses related to a serious injury or death.
In cases when the negligent driver has no financial resources, sometimes the accident victim’s own vehicle insurance policy includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP), or Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) which will cover a portion of the expenses.
Nevertheless, even if the victim had this type of coverage when the accident occurred, surviving family members should consult an attorney who can make sure they receive all of the compensation that the insurance company owes to them.
Godsey Martin is Here to Bring You Justice
When you have lost a loved one to an auto accident and are facing medical bills, funeral costs, and other expenses, our compassionate and experienced attorneys will work to recover monetary damages to help compensate for your losses. A good attorney can help you make sense of your case, negotiate with the parties involved, develop strategies to recover damages, represent you in court, and deal with insurance companies as needed.
Call Godsey Martin today at 877-IGOTHIT, or fill out the simple form on their websiteto schedule a free case evaluation.