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Personal injury claim may be pursued by estate in fatal crash

Negligence principles in Texas and other states govern the rules of liability dealing with car accidents. When a driver is negligent and causes the death of a passenger, the estate of the decedent has a personal injury action for compensation against the operator. When the operator also dies in the accident and is the immediate family member of the deceased passenger, the passenger's estate can still collect damages.

Those principles may come into play in the aftermath of a tragic accident that occurred in Atascosa County at about 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 18. An 18-year-old woman was driving herself and her 11-year-old brother to school on F.M. 1333 when she lost control of the vehicle in what were reportedly slick road conditions. Witnesses report that the car veered off the road and then overcorrected itself into oncoming traffic where it collided with a pickup truck.

The Texas Department of Public Safety did not say why the operator lost control, but is continuing its investigation. Authorities have not yet determined whether the slick road conditions were a main or contributing factor in the operator's loss of control. The two were the only children of a couple that reside in College Station, making this a particularly difficult tragedy for the family, the schoolmates and friends of the children. The mystery of why the young woman veered off the road can have many possible explanations.

She may have fallen asleep or been distracted by electronic devices. There may have been impairment or even a medical problem. In any event, her actions are likely negligence under these facts. The Texas courts have abolished family immunity in a personal injury claim, so that the boy's parents can make a claim technically against their deceased daughter. In such cases, the claim is not generally going to be contentious and collecting the policy limits from the insurance company will be reasonably expected if handled timely by a seasoned attorney experienced in litigating car accident cases. 

Source: theeagle.com, "Two children of College Station natives killed in car accident near San Antonio", Jan. 19, 2017

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