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

Asked 11 months ago - 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. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    6

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Arkansas

  2. Andrew Payne Copenhaver

    Contributor Level 8

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    1

    Answered . 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... more
  3. Jeffrey Ira Schwimmer

    Contributor Level 19

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    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . 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.

  4. Josh P Tolin

    Contributor Level 19

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . 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.

  5. James Otto Heiting

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . 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.

  6. C. Donald Briggs III

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

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

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