My Loved One Was Killed by a Drunk Driver. What Happens Now?

According to the 2019 Texas Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Facts by the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2019, there were about 73 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes involving drivers under the influence of alcohol in Houston, Texas. Losing a family member can be emotional and heartbreaking. Such a loss can have overwhelming, long-lasting consequences on your mental, financial, and emotional health. If your loved one was killed by a drunk driver, you have the right to pursue compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the party you believe to be responsible.

At Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, I'm committed to offering outstanding legal services and compassionate representation in wrongful death cases. I can offer you the comprehensive guidance, support, and assistance you need during this critical period. As an experienced Texas personal injury attorney, I can help you file a wrongful death claim and attempt to pursue rightful compensation to cover outstanding medical costs, lost income, funeral expenses, burial expenses, and loss of consortium. My law firm proudly serves clients throughout Houston, South Houston, Friendswood, Pasadena, Texas, and the surrounding areas.

Criminal Charges

A person who killed someone while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be facing criminal charges for intoxication manslaughter.

Pursuant to Texas Penal Code Section 49.08, a person commits an offense of intoxication manslaughter if the person, while intoxicated, operates a motor vehicle in a public place, and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.

Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Why File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The loss of a loved one is one of the most devastating things to deal with in life, especially when the death was avoidable. Wrongful death is a death that occurred unintentionally as a result of the actions or negligence of another party. The purpose of the wrongful death claim is to hold the responsible party liable for a preventable accident that caused a death.

Although no amount of financial compensation can bring back your loved one or fill the void left by their death, filing a wrongful death claim can provide the surviving family members with financial assistance to cover medical costs incurred before the victim's death, funeral and burial expenses, lost income, or loss of consortium. This action also allows the decedent's family to hold the responsible party accountable for a sudden, avoidable death.

The Texas Wrongful Death Act (TWDA)

The Texas Wrongful Death Act (TWDA), found in Chapter 71 of Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, explains that a civil action for damages may be filed for a person’s death if the "carelessness, wrongful act, unskillfulness, neglect, or default" of one party caused the death of another.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Texas?

Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 71.004(b), the surviving spouse, children, and parents of the deceased may bring an action to recover damages for a wrongful death. However, if none of the individuals entitled to bring an action have begun the action within three calendar months after their loved one’s death, the decedent's administrator or executor may bring and prosecute the wrongful death action.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for wrongful death suits in Texas requires the surviving family members of the decedent to file their claims within two years of the decedent's death.

Liability for Drunk Driving

When a wrongful death occurred due to the actions of a drunk driver, the following people may be held responsible:

  • The driver
  • Parents or vehicle owner ("negligent entrustment")
  • The establishment that served the drinks
  • The employer
  • The person who held the private gathering where the intoxication occurred (“social host liability”)

Potential Compensation Available

The following damages may potentially be recovered in a wrongful death claim:

  • Medical costs incurred before the victim's death
  • Funeral expenses
  • Burial expenses
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Lost care, guidance, support, or counsel
  • Loss of consortium
  • Lost love or companionship
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost household services
  • Exemplary claims or punitive damages to further punish the at-fault party

Work With an ExperiencedWrongful Death Attorney

A loved one’s death can have devastating, lifelong consequences on your financial, emotional, and mental health. You don't have to go through this ordeal alone. Hiring a knowledgeable Texas wrongful death attorney is the first step to protecting your rights and pursuing rightful compensation for your loss.

At Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, I have devoted my career to protecting the rights of wrongful death victims and their surviving loved ones. As your attorney, I will investigate the facts of your case, collect all necessary evidence, and work to establish that the defendant's wrongful actions caused your loved one’s death.

As an experienced attorney, I will fight compassionately to protect your rights and provide the aggressive representation you need in your wrongful death lawsuit. Having me on your side can improve your possibility of obtaining fair compensation for your loss.

If you have lost a parent, child, spouse, or another close relative to a drunk driver's wrongful actions, you have a right to hold the responsible party accountable. Contact me — Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law — today to schedule a free consultation. I will offer you the comprehensive legal guidance, support, and compassionate representation you need to pursue your wrongful death claims. I'm proud to represent clients throughout Houston, South Houston, Friendswood, Pasadena, Texas, and the surrounding areas.


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