Head-on collision raises potential survival claim issues

There always exists the potential for a car accident to turn fatal, especially in situations such as a head-on collision. This is precisely what happened in South Austin recently when two vehicles struck each other when a passenger car traveling northbound in an intersection apparently crossed into the southbound lane, where it ran into a sport utility vehicle.

The driver of the wrong-way car died at the scene of the accident. The SUV driver had to be taken to a local hospital with serious injuries.

Ordinarily when a multi-vehicle accident happens and it appears that one of the drivers was primarily if not entirely at fault for causing it, the other driver will have a possible cause of action for personal injury and property damage. But when the at-fault driver dies as a result of the accident that he caused, what does this do to the injured person’s potential cause of action? 

Under Texas law, Section 71.008 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code is clear on the subject: “If … the individual against whom the action may have been instituted dies before the action is begun, the executor or administrator of the estate may be made a defendant, and the action may be prosecuted as though the defendant or individual were alive.”

The effect in this case is almost like a wrongful death action in reverse: instead of a deceased plaintiff’s estate filing a lawsuit against a living defendant, the possibility exists that the injured plaintiff may commence an action against the estate of the deceased driver, who otherwise would have been a possible defendant in a personal injury action.

Source: KEYE, “Teen Killed in South Austin Crash Identified,” July 30, 2015

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