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TX crash lawyerOn August 10, an 80-year-old woman was driving through the intersection of Bradbury Lane and Dessau Road when she was struck by a Nissan Armada traveling through the same intersection. It took law enforcement roughly two weeks to identify the deceased woman, but eventually, they were successful. The crash marked Austin’s 58th traffic fatality in 2020, which is a notable rise from the previous year. There does not appear to be any indication that the deceased woman’s family intends to file suit against the other driver, but if they did, they might conceivably be able to file a claim for wrongful death under Texas law.

File Your Suit ASAP

When someone dies in a traffic accident, it can sometimes be merely a tragic mistake. However, if someone dies due to the negligence, wrongful act, or carelessness of another person, their death is considered wrongful under Texas law (if the connection between the death and the other person’s actions can be proven). A finding of wrongful death can result in financial liability for the defendant, both for tangible expenses like funeral costs and for intangible damages like mental anguish or pain and suffering.

Be advised that if you are in a situation where you believe it may be a good idea to file a wrongful death suit, you have a very short window of time to do it. Texas law allows only two years from the death of the person in which you can file suit - in other words, if you lose a loved one due to someone else’s negligent actions, you must file your wrongful death suit within two years of their passing, Any longer and witnesses become unreliable, while physical evidence will be forgotten or lost.

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TC crash lawyerRecently, a four-vehicle crash on the southeast side of San Antonio killed one woman after a man driving a stolen car struck three cars as he ran through a red light. The man ignored a red light and drove a stolen Toyota RAV4 into a Ford Focus, which triggered a chain reaction with two other cars. One of the drivers of the other cars was hospitalized after the crash, only to eventually die from her injuries. The man has been charged with murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and theft of a vehicle - but one may wonder why the man is facing criminal charges, while many who accidentally cause the death of another person face only civil liability.

Homicide vs. Wrongful Death

When someone dies due to another person’s actions, it may result in either civil liability, criminal guilt, or both. The general principle is that while homicide may fall under the umbrella of wrongful death, not every wrongful death rises to the level of homicide. Texas law defines homicide as causing the death of another individual “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence.” Conversely, wrongful death is when someone’s death is due to another person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.”

While negligence or carelessness is a standard that implies a lack of care on the part of the defendant, it is not the same as acting recklessly or with intentional malice. In short, while wrongful death and most other civil torts require a showing that the defendant did not act with sufficient care, crimes usually involve the defendant acting with no care at all. The man in the story from above cannot be said to have acted with any degree of care with regard to the safety of the other occupants of the vehicles he struck - thus his being charged with murder and other crimes.

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TX crash lawyerRecently, a 70-year-old woman died in a two-car accident near the Blanco River exit on I-35 SB. The crash involved a semi-truck and a Dodge Journey. Law enforcement stated that they believed the woman was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, which may have played a role in causing her injuries. Hays County EMS transported her to Ascension Seton Hays Hospital in Kyle for further treatment, but she eventually died of her injuries. While too many lives are lost in road accidents every day, many plaintiffs who sue for their injuries worry that they may face reduced awards because they failed to wear a seatbelt. Texas law on seatbelt use has only become settled within the last few years, and it can be difficult to understand what responsibility it may convey.

Use or Non-Use Is Relevant

Up until 2015, Texas law on seatbelt use evidence was that while the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt in a car accident might have played a role in causing their injuries, it played no role in causing the accident itself, so it was seen as inadmissible on the grounds of relevance. However, this outlook began to fall out of favor as seatbelt use climbed and the concept of responsibility evolved; while it is true that seatbelt use or lack thereof would not have caused the accident itself, eventually the case of Nabors Well Services Ltd. v Romero (2015) established that it was still relevant evidence for the purposes of determining the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Essentially, Nabors held that while it is true that seatbelt use or non-use could not have caused the crash itself, it could easily have caused some of the plaintiff’s injuries, or made injuries worse. That makes the issue relevant, and a jury should be able to factor it in when trying to apportion liability in a personal injury case. So if you are injured in a vehicle accident and you were not wearing a seatbelt, a jury is permitted to consider that factor in determining who was most responsible for the harm you suffered.

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TX accident lawyerRecently, a single-vehicle crash on A.W. Grimes Boulevard in Round Rock killed one person. The 34-year-old driver was pronounced dead at the scene, though no one else was injured, and no major property damage appeared to have occurred. Single-vehicle rollover accidents are sometimes solely the fault of the driver, but this is not always the case. If you have managed to survive a rollover accident, you may be able to seek compensation from an actor whose conduct made your accident more likely, even if they were not injured in the accident themselves.

The Most Deadly Type Of Accident

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) paint an intimidating picture of the aftermath of rollover crashes - justifiably so in most cases, given that they involve vehicles weighing thousands of pounds flipping over and expelling their contents. NHTSA statistics estimate that only around 2 percent of all traffic accidents are rollover crashes - however, they account for roughly 35 percent of traffic-related fatalities during that time.

There are several different reasons why the fatality count in rollover accidents gets so high. Speeding is very often a factor, as well as lack of restraint use (The Department of Transportation estimates that of the rollover accident facilities tallied, approximately three-fourths were not wearing seatbelts). DoT statistics also note that the majority of rollover accident drivers are male, and the majority of single-vehicle rollovers happen on two-lane roads with no medians. Obviously, accidents may happen anywhere, but some factors can raise one’s likelihood of having a crash, especially if one is not careful.

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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX injury lawyerRecently, a 17-year old driver died when his car struck a Chevy SUV turning into a business parking lot off South Hackberry Street, near East Cesar Chavez Boulevard. All four people involved in the accident - the teenager and his passenger, and the driver of the Chevy and her small child - were taken to University Hospital. The driver and her child suffered “non-critical” injuries, while the teen driver’s passenger suffered “non-life-threatening” injuries and the driver himself was pronounced deceased. Law enforcement told the press that “charges were pending,” but in addition, the Chevy driver may have a civil claim against the deceased person’s estate. In Texas, it is sometimes still possible to file a claim against a defendant’s estate even if they themselves have passed away.

Is There a Cause Of Action?

In Texas, a personal injury lawsuit can be filed when a person sustains an injury as a result of another person negligently or recklessly breaching their duty to exercise reasonable care in a certain situation. Every motorist has the duty to exercise reasonable care in their interactions with other drivers or pedestrians, and if they do something to breach that duty, they may wind up on the hook for any injuries they cause with that reckless action. The teenage driver struck the Chevy (rather than the alternative), which breaches their duty to exercise reasonable care, and as he struck the Chevy, he caused injury.

All the proverbial boxes are checked; the Chevy driver could conceivably file a lawsuit against the teenager (or his parents, given his young age - most of the time, minors cannot be sued; instead the claim would be against their parents for negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle) over any injuries suffered and any damage to their vehicle. However, since the teenager died of his injuries, he is no longer present to serve as a defendant. If you are in this situation, it can feel as though you have reached a dead-end in terms of seeking compensation for your injuries. However, you do have options.

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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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