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Wrongful death in Arkansas but victim lived in Texas and driver lives in Indiana

Fort Wayne, IN |

In which state can I sue for wrongful death? Which state is responsible to investigate. The woman died in a car accident in which the other person fell asleep at the wheel. The state police stated that there was no criminal action from the driver. Who can we talk to for criminal prosecutions for the sleepy driver?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. You could sue in Arkansas or Texas. If you served the Defendant in Texas then the Texas procedural law would apply but the substantive law of Arkansas (the place of the tort) would apply. Bear in mind that a personal representative would need to be appointed through Probate Court in Illinois. My advice is that you contact a lawyer.

    The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.

  2. As the accident happened in Arkansas, only that state's law enforcement and prosecutorial system could pursue a criminal action against the at fault driver, which unfortunately for you, they apparently have declined to do. In reality, falling asleep at the wheel may be evidence of negligence leading to civil liability for injuries suffered by others, but is not a "criminal act" in and of itself. As for a civil action for wrongful death, Arkansas would have jurisdiction over such a claim against the sleeping driver even though he is from the State of Indiana and the victim is from another state, as the accident happened there. We all subject ourselves to the authority of the State Courts of the State we are driving in, regardless where we may actually reside. You could not sue the driver in Texas State court, because the driver does not reside there and the accident did not happen there, thus Texas does not have jurisdictional authority over the driver. You could sue the driver in the Federal Court located in Texas, as there is "diversity of citizenship" between the parties, which is a jurisdicitonal requirement. Whehter it is tactically best to do that is something that you would discuss with lawyer in Texas. Please accept my condolences for your loss.

  3. If the accident happened in Arkansas that is the proper venue. You do have diversity jurisdiction, so the case can be file in Federal Court. You should discuss with an attorney to best advise you as to which venue they suggest.

  4. Hire an experienced Arkansas personal injury lawyer and sue in Arkansas.

  5. The family should consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney convenient to them. Once all the facts and circumstances are explored they will get the answer to the question of where the lawsuit should be brought that, hopefully, will be most advantageous to them. The state where the accident happened (Arkansas) would be responsible to prosecute any criminal action.