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TX accident lawyerA true tragedy occurred in Austin recently, when a Mercedes-Benz struck a Hummer on its passenger side, injuring two young children. One of the children, a nine-year-old girl, died from her injuries on April 4, while the other underwent potentially life-saving surgery. The Mercedes driver was treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries and was later arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI). In addition to the major criminal charges that the driver may face given the young girl’s passing, it is possible he may be sued in civil court by the family, to try and collect damages for her wrongful death. If you have lost a loved one, especially a minor, to the negligence or recklessness of another person, you have the right to try and hold them accountable, even if they already face criminal charges.

No Replacing A Lost Loved One

If you and your family have lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, you may be able to recover monetary compensation - not to replace the lost person in your life but to hopefully help your family stay on its financial feet while you adjust to the loss of that person. You may be able to recover for both tangible (also called economic) and intangible (non-economic) damages, including (but not limited to) lost wages, funeral expenses and last medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of inheritance, and several other potential causes of action.

Generally, Texas law holds that a cause of action for wrongful death exists if someone’s passing can be directly linked to the negligence, wrongful act, carelessness, or unskillfulness of another person. For example, if someone is killed in an auto accident because their brakes failed, a mechanic who negligently failed to notice a problem might possibly be liable for that person’s death because they ought to have noticed and fixed the issue. Only a surviving spouse, parents, or children can file a wrongful death claim in Texas.

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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX accident lawyerRecently, a Travis County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) deputy was killed in a traffic accident while on duty. An Infiniti traveling westbound on FM 2244 veered into his eastbound lane, causing him to roll off the road and land on its roof. The deputy was pinned inside, expiring from his injuries at the scene. The other driver was hospitalized with “serious but not life-threatening” injuries. While the accident is still being investigated, it appears that the deputy lost his life due to the wrongful action of the Infiniti driver, which would open them up to potential liability for wrongful death. If you have lost a loved one in a similar situation, understand that you do have options if you choose to seek compensation for your loved one’s passing.

Texas Wrongful Death Law

Wrongful death is a death that should not have occurred but for the “wrongful act, negligence, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” of another person. Texas law states that if that person’s conduct can be proven, and that it can be shown that no other intervening cause played a role, then that person is liable for damages. Only specific family members can file a wrongful death suit in Texas; usually, a surviving spouse, parents, or children.

There are two types of wrongful death lawsuits in Texas. One is a standard wrongful death claim, where family members of the deceased person file a lawsuit against the person whose wrongful conduct allegedly caused the decedent’s passing, seeking damages for causes of action like lost wages, lost companionship, and mental pain and suffering. The other type is called a survival action, which is brought by heirs or the estate, to try and recover for claims that the deceased person would have been able to bring themselves, had they survived the incident in question.

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TX injury lawyerRecently, two people were racing their vehicles along Bluff Springs Road in southeast Austin when one struck the side of the other, sending it into a light pole and killing the driver. Initially, the second driver had fled the scene, but he returned to the scene while law enforcement was still present, and was taken into custody. He was charged with two second-degree felonies, and while there has been no indication that the deceased driver’s family seeks to file suit against him, the driver could face a wrongful death suit if they choose to do so. If you lose a loved one due to another person’s negligence, filing a wrongful death suit is usually an option for you and the other survivors.

Wrongful Death vs Homicide

The Texas Wrongful Death Act states that a person is liable for damages that stem from the death of another person if that death was caused by their (or their agent’s) “wrongful act, negligence, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.” If this turns out to be the case, your family may be able to recover compensation to help offset the loss of your loved one - it is not a replacement or a way to fix what you are going through, of course, but compensation may be able to help keep your bills paid or otherwise help the family stay afloat while you try to recover.

Keep in mind that a civil action for wrongful death is different than a criminal charge of homicide. The former is brought by the survivors of the deceased, while the latter is brought by the state; the former is punished with civil fines and other remedies while the latter carries jail time. However, one person may go through both a civil and a criminal case for the same action - they simply cannot happen concurrently. Most of the time, a criminal case will happen before a civil case, because the burden of proof is higher and if someone incriminates themselves or confesses to something during a criminal trial, that evidence is usually admissible in a civil trial as well.

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TX injury lawyerOn the morning of Independence Day, a rollover crash on Loop 1604 claimed the life of one person, when the sedan he was riding in flipped over, ejecting all four occupants. A man in his 20s was killed, and the other three passengers in the car sustained serious injuries, though as of this writing their conditions are not known. Rollover accidents are some of the most dangerous one can experience, and if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a rollover that is the result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation.

Higher Percentage of Fatalities

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that rollover accidents are very serious. In the relevant data, rollovers comprised approximately 1.5 percent of all crashes but were responsible for roughly eight percent of the fatalities. There are many different reasons for this, not least of all because of the sheer weight of a vehicle flipping around can cause serious damage to a human body.

Other reasons that rollovers have a higher fatality percentage have to do with the factors that so often are present in this type of crash - for example, NHTSA statistics show that nearly half of all rollover crashes involve alcohol or another substance, which obviously impairs one’s ability to drive. Another common factor is location; rural roads are often less well maintained, which can make it easy to get distracted or to not notice another vehicle on the road nearby.

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TX crash lawyerThe day before her 28th birthday, Leslie Valderrama was killed when the driver of the car she was in rear-ended an SUV on Ben White Boulevard, near Montopolis Drive. She was airlifted to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, but was pronounced deceased at approximately 3.30 AM on the morning of July 7. In this particular type of case, it can be difficult to determine who should be responsible for the family’s loss and suffering, but it is very possible that if the family of Ms. Valderrama brought suit for wrongful death, they would have a case that might prevail in court.

What Is Wrongful Death in Texas?

Texas law holds that someone can be found liable for wrongful death if the deceased’s passing was caused by their, or their agent’s, “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.” While no amount of money can obviously eliminate the pain and loss you have suffered from your loved one’s passing, seeking monetary compensation can cushion the blow of losing their income and dealing with medical bills and funeral expenses. Prevailing at trial is difficult, but very far from impossible.

Some people may confuse wrongful death with murder, but there are important distinctions between the two. Murder is a criminal act, and a person must have had the deliberate intent to kill the person before they can be charged with their murder. Wrongful death is a civil tort, meaning that it is tried in civil court, with defendants who lose their cases usually being required to pay money damages, rather than in the criminal court, where jail time is the chosen punishment. If you have lost someone due to someone’s recklessness, a wrongful death suit may be appropriate; if you know that someone deliberately tried to kill your loved one, the police will likely charge them with murder.

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The sooner you call, the sooner we can build your case, secure evidence and get maximum compensation for your injuries.

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