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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX bike accident lawyerRecently, a bicyclist was struck by a car near the intersection of Ben White Boulevard and Interstate Highway 35, sustaining “critical, life-threatening injuries” that later caused his passing in a nearby hospital. While law enforcement did not disclose details of the accident, implying that no criminal charges are pending for the driver, the possibility of a wrongful death lawsuit may still be on the proverbial table. A civil wrongful death suit will not, obviously, bring back a lost loved one, but it can help provide some financial stability while you and your family try to get back on your feet if you experience this type of tragic event.

Filing Suit

Not every death is wrongful, even if it occurs in an accident. Sometimes they simply happen, unfair as it may seem. However, if you believe that your loved one’s death occurred due to someone else’s careless or negligent conduct, filing a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court can be a way to try and at least get some closure. Texas law holds that a person can be found liable for someone’s passing, and the damages incurred from it if the death happened due to that person’s (or their agent’s) “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.”

Be advised that only certain members of the decedent’s family, or the personal representative of their estate in some situations, may file a wrongful death suit in Texas. Generally, spouses, parents, and children by blood or completed adoption are the only survivors who are able to file - others like siblings or cousins are considered, rightly or wrongly, to have too remote a relationship to the deceased to be affected enough to warrant a filing.

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TX wrongful death lawyerOn the night of August 14, a man was trying to cross I-37 N between Cesar Chavez Boulevard and Florida Street when he was struck by a 2012 Kia Optima. Afterward, he was then struck by more vehicles in quick succession and later pronounced dead at the scene. While law enforcement currently do not anticipate charges being filed in the man’s death, it is still possible that his family may choose to file wrongful death charges in civil court. If you have been unfortunate enough to lose a loved one in a traffic accident, this may be an option for you and your family to try and recover some of the expenses incurred.

Establishing Negligence

Everyone passes away eventually, but if you lose a loved one suddenly, it can be devastating. Losing someone due to another person’s recklessness or negligence is something that no one should have to deal with. A wrongful death claim in Texas hinges around establishing that your loved one’s passing would not have occurred but for the negligence of the defendant, and that had they lived, they would have had cause to bring their own lawsuit against the defendant for the injuries they incurred.

For example, if one looks at the I-37 N accident, it can be argued that the man’s family could bring a wrongful death suit against the driver of the Optima because had the Optima not struck him, the man might have lived. Also, had the man survived being struck by the Optima, he would conceivably have been able to sue the driver for his injuries. This does not necessarily mean that the suit would automatically be successful - but the factors would all be present that would allow either the man or his family to sue.

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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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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX injury lawyerA serious crash on I-35 N on the night of April 28 has claimed the life of one person. An 18-year-old woman was pronounced dead at University Hospital after the Toyota Yaris she was in was struck from behind by a GMC Sierra, which then caused her car to crash into a Dodge Durango. The driver and other passenger in the Yaris remain at University Hospital in critical condition, though the occupants of the Sierra and Durango escaped injury. While the driver of the Sierra will not face charges as of this writing and did stop to render aid, it is still plausible that the family of the deceased may seek to bring a wrongful death suit against the driver of the Sierra to recover medical bills and funeral expenses.

Wrongful Death Law Is Specific in Texas

Texas’ wrongful death statute sets out very specific requirements and facts that must be met in order to be able to file a wrongful death suit. Perhaps most notably, it stipulates the family members who are permitted to file suit - spouses, parents, and children, both minor and adult. Other family, such as siblings, aunts or uncles, are deemed to have had too remote a family relationship, rightly or wrongly. It also states that certain conduct is excepted from the statute; most notably, the right of action for wrongful death does not apply to an unborn child except in the rarest circumstances.

There are two types of wrongful death suits, but only one may be brought by the family. A survival action is a type of wrongful death case, but in Texas, it refers to a cause of action that the deceased had mounted before their passing. For example, if the deceased person had been suing someone over a property dispute, that action would survive under the personal representative of that person’s estate. But only the personal representative has the authority to maintain such an action.

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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX injury lawyerAn early morning crash near the intersection of Hwy 290 and RM 1826 killed one person after an SUV failed to obey posted signs and turned left into traffic. The SUV was exiting a private drive, and while only right turns are permissible from that driveway, the SUV driver turned left, cutting across several lanes. Another driver, in a silver sedan, swerved to avoid a collision with the SUV but wound up being struck again. The sedan driver was killed at the scene, and while the SUV driver was cited (a misdemeanor), it is not implausible that the family of the sedan driver might want to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, given that but for the SUV driver’s negligence, their loved one might still be alive.

Wrongful Death in Texas

Wrongful death is a cause of action under civil law (as opposed to criminal law; wrongful death is not a crime). In a wrongful death lawsuit, a deceased person’s loved ones are seeking to hold the defendant liable for their role in causing that person’s death and may receive money damages if they are successful. Texas law states that a person should be liable for damages if that person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” caused an injury that led to the death of the deceased.

Wrongful death cases are decided based on a legal theory of negligence, meaning that to prevail, a plaintiff has to show three things. They must show that the defendant breached the duty to exercise reasonable care in their actions, they must show that they suffered harm because of that failure and that there was no other cause for their injuries - that the defendant’s conduct was the sole reason for them happening. This is not always easy to establish, especially in multi-car accidents, but it is far from impossible.

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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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