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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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TX injury lawyerIn the early morning hours of September 11, a man was struck by a vehicle in the 1000 block of Parmer Lane, later dying in a Round Rock hospital. While the man was found in the road by police upon arrival, the driver who struck him did remain on the scene and cooperated with law enforcement. Nonetheless, a wrongful death suit may be pending by the victim’s family against the driver, which is a common result after such tragic accidents.

Wrongful Death in Texas

Any death in Texas that occurs due to the “wrongful act, neglect, [or] carelessness" of another person has the potential to be classified as wrongful. Of course, to do that, one must define neglect or carelessness, which is not always straightforward. Wrongful death cases are tried under a theory of negligence law, meaning that one must establish that the defendant was negligent in their actions in order for the plaintiff to recover.

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TX accident lawyerAfter a crash involving a pedestrian on the afternoon of August 1, a driver has been apprehended on charges of failure to stop and render aid. A man died at the scene after another man’s car hit him while walking on the sidewalk near the corner of South First Street and West Ben White Boulevard. While the second man will face criminal charges, it is also likely that should the family of the deceased choose, he will also face a civil lawsuit for wrongful death.

Wrongful Death in Texas

Texas’ wrongful death statute holds that liability exists if someone’s death is caused by another person’s (or their agent’s) “wrongful act, neglect … or default.” In short, if Person A’s conduct rises to the level of negligence under the law, and that negligence causes Person B to die, Person A may be liable for wrongful death. To prove liability, one must show that (1) a duty of care existed between plaintiff and defendant; (2) that duty was breached; (3) the breach caused tangible harm to the plaintiff; and (4) that harm was done directly because of the defendant’s actions.

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