Truck Driver Rear-Ends Minivan, Man Dies: Part 3 – Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas
This post is the third in a multipart series that examines the many facets of a personal injury and wrongful death case as a result of an accident involving a large commercial truck.
Residents of Bowie County, Texas, Sue Smith have filed a personal injury and wrongful death suit as next friend of Thomas Smith and as representative of his estate, and on behalf of herself, along with Melanie Wagstaff as co-plaintiff, against Bernard McDaniel and his employer, Dowell Transport, Inc. in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. If you or a loved one has been injured in Texarkana, Odessa, Wichita Falls, Dallas, or anywhere in Texas, please contact us for a free consultation.
18-wheeler Hits Stopped Minivan, Lawsuit Follows
On June 25, 2013 at around 3 p.m., 73 year-old Texarkana resident Thomas Smith was driving a Dodge Caravan minivan on Interstate 30. Traffic slowed and Smith followed suit. An 18-wheeler owned by Dowell Transport, Inc. and driven by Bernard McDaniel hit Smith’s minivan from behind, causing fatal injuries to Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith was pronounced dead on the scene at 3:50 p.m. The driver of the 18-wheeler, McDaniel, was not injured.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Suit?
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As tragic as it is, sometimes an unnatural death is the fault of someone other than the deceased. An unnatural death is any that does not occur naturally – that is, one that is not the direct result of external forces. A natural death is death by an illness or the natural shutdown of the body as a result of old age. Mr. Smith did not die a natural death. External forces – the 18-wheeler rear-ending his minivan – caused the injuries that resulted in his death.
However, who can hold the perpetrator of his death liable for their actions? In the legal world, in order to bring a claim a person must have standing. In order to have standing in Texas, the person bringing the claim must have a real controversy with the party or parties they are suing AND the controversy must be able to be settled by the judicial action sought. So, who has standing to bring a wrongful death suit?
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It is technically Mr. Smith who has a controversy with Dowell Transport, Inc. and the driver, Bernard McDaniel, because Mr. Smith is the one who actually died as a result of the company’s and driver’s actions. However, Mr. Smith cannot hope to be brought back to life in order to sue. But we as a society want to hold wrongdoers accountable. Therefore, we allow a “next friend” to stand in the place of the one who died. In this case, Mrs. Smith is suing for Mr. Smith. She is representing his interests for his wrongful death. In this case, she represents his estate. Any money awarded for the wrongful death will go to his estate.
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We at Loncar Lyon Jenkins believe that owners ofcommercial trucks should be held accountable for any failure to properly ensure the safety of those around them. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed as a result of an accident with a truck, pleasecontact one of our highly skilled and experienced attorneys for a free consultation.