Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) May 13, 2020 – Recently, an Alleyton woman died after she was hit by a Freightliner tractor-trailer near Columbus. The 75-year-old walked into the westbound lanes of I-10 at approximately 4:25 a.m. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
Questions about liability often arise in pedestrian-car wrecks. In most situations, pedestrians have the right of way when crossing at an intersection, whether they are in a marked crosswalk or not. As a result, it is always incumbent on a motorist to be on the lookout for pedestrians. In this case, the wreck appears to have happened on a highway and not at an intersection. Additionally, since it involves a tractor-trailer there is a good chance that even if the driver did try to stop, the weight of the vehicle would have propelled it forward – a physical law that the 47-year-old driver would have had no control over. The effect of the weight on stopping distance of big rigs does not provide an excuse to truck drivers; the effect makes it even more important that tractor-trailer drivers keep an eye out for pedestrians.
In 2018, over 6,227 pedestrians were killed across the nation, a jump of 250 from 2017. Currently, pedestrian deaths account for 16 percent of all traffic deaths. “Why are the number of pedestrian accidents on the rise?” asked Austin trucking accident and wrongful death attorney Brooks Schuelke. “The reason behind the ever-increasing number of traffic accidents, involving vehicles, motorcyclists, big rigs and pedestrians, is the higher number of distracted drivers on the road.”
While the whole story in this situation is not known, the evidence gathered may result in the deceased’s family being able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. “I often get asked if there is a difference between a wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal charge,” said Schuelke. These systems are two separate types of actions that may result from the same event. In a criminal case, the prosecutors bring criminal charges against the at fault person for violations of criminal statutes. The end goal of these prosecutions is the imposition of criminal penalties, such as fines or imprisonment.
“Wrongful death lawsuits are different from criminal cases as there are no criminal penalties involved and the civil wrongful death claims are typically brought or prosecuted by the families of the victim,” Schuelke explained. The purpose of civil cases is to award financial compensation to the plaintiff(s) to cover for damages they suffered due to the negligent actions that caused a death.
There are cases where both criminal and civil actions are both involved from the same event. In Texas, the state would bring criminal charges, and a personal injury lawyer would help surviving family members bring a civil lawsuit for compensation. A common example of these types of dual claims are injuries caused by drunk drivers. Criminal charges may be brought because the driver was under the influence, and civil charges may be brought by anyone injured by the drunk driver.
Family members in a wrongful death case may be eligible to seek compensation for the following:
* Loss of support
* Lost income
* Mental pain and suffering
* Funeral/medical expenses
* Lost services
* Loss of companionship
* Lost counsel/advice
* Lost inheritance/maintenance
“If you have lost a loved family member, I am here to help you and let you know what your legal rights are. Your first consultation is free,” added Schuelke.
Schuelke Law PLLC
3011 N. Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78705
Call (512) 476-4944
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