Yes, it is a criminal matter. However, it can also be a civil matter, and therefore a personal injury. Criminal cases are controlled by the government (the district attorney or the county attorney), and they seek to punish the drunk driver for the drunk driver’s illegal conduct. There, the goal is to seek jail time or some other form of punishment for the drunk driver. In a criminal case, the prosecutor has to meet a higher burden of proof than is required in a civil case.
Civil lawsuits, also referred to as personal injury lawsuits, are different from criminal cases because the goal of a civil case is to compensate the victim for the losses the drunk driver caused. In your situation, the wrongful death of your wife as a result of a criminally negligent driver would mean you could file a wrongful death lawsuit (which is a type of personal injury case). In most cases, the district or county attorney will prosecute the criminal case, but you will need a personal injury lawyer to get your full compensation for your losses. The cases can go on at the same time, but sometimes, the criminal prosecutor will not release all their evidence — even to the victim – until their case is over.
It is important to note that every state does not have the same laws relating to wrongful death. Most notably, each state provides a plaintiff differing lengths of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit, in addition to differences in the type of compensation the state may permit the plaintiff to recover.
If you wish to recover compensation in Texas for the loss of a loved one, you usually have two years to file a wrongful death claim, usually starting the day of the wreck. However, because there are some circumstances where this time limit is even shorter, it’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer right away. Note: the date of the family member’s death may not be the same day they were involved in an accident. They may have died from their injuries days or months later.
In the Lone Star state, some wrongful death lawsuits allow for the recovery of “exemplary or punitive damages”. Your attorney is the best person to advise you on what you may expect should you choose to file a wrongful lawsuit, as each case is different.
Other Personal Injury FAQs:
- Are catastrophic injury cases different than personal injury lawsuits?
- Can I handle my personal injury claim without a lawyer?
- Can I still file a personal injury claim even if I was partially at fault?
- Can I wait to contact a personal injury lawyer?
- How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?
- How do you win a personal injury case in Texas?
- How does a victim of a catastrophic injury deal with insurance companies?
- How long does it take to get my case settled?
- How long does it take to get results in a catastrophic injury cases?
- I don’t have a lot of money after my accident how am I going to afford an attorney?
- I don’t have a lot of money and work at a low paying job. How can I possibly afford to hire a personal injury lawyer?
- I was in a bad car accident and sustained serious injuries. Can an attorney help me get compensation for my medical bills?
- If I file a personal injury claim, am I entitled to compensation for my injuries?
- My wife was killed by a drunk driver. Isn’t that a criminal matter? If so, why would I need a personal injury lawyer?
- Should I accept the settlement offer from the insurance company after my accident?
- Should I hire an experienced personal injury attorney after being involved in a serious accident?
- What am I supposed to do after being involved in an accident and I am badly injured?
- What are catastrophic injuries?
- What are special and general damages?
- What do comparative fault and the doctrine of proportionate responsibility mean?
- What do I do if the insurance company representative contacts me?
- What has to be proven in a personal injury case?
- What is a personal injury lawyer and how do I know if I need to hire one?
- What is a personal injury lawyer and why would I need one?
- What is a serious personal injury?
- What is the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury case in Texas?
- What kind of compensation am I eligible to receive by filing a personal injury claim?
- What kinds of accidents cause catastrophic injuries?
- What kinds of damages am I eligible for after an accident?
- What kinds of expenses could I claim after being injured in an accident?
- What types of personal injury claims are seen in Texas?
- When are injuries sustained in a car accident considered to be catastrophic?
- Why do I need a personal injury lawyer if the insurance company of the person who caused the accident I was in has offered me a settlement?
- Why would I need a personal injury lawyer for a minor accident and minor injuries?