Austin Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a loved one can be devastating, but when their death is caused by the negligence or deliberate actions of another, it can be completely demoralizing. Nothing, and no amount of money can return a loved one to you. Filing a wrongful death claim can never return a loved one, but it might help a family return to some normalcy.
There can be financial burdens on a family if the deceased was the primary wage earner for the family. There can also be medical bills leading up to the death and funeral expenses. Unfortunately, we have had many experiences with wrongful death, and we know how difficult it can be on the survivors. Fortunately, we can help ease some of the painfulness of these terrible events by getting the family the justice they are entitled to under the law.
A claim for wrongful death arises when a person or persons act negligently, recklessly, or with disregard for the safety of another, or with the intent to kill or harm, resulting in the death of another person.
Wrongful Death Cases
Common Causes of Wrongful Death:
- Car and motorcycle accidents
- Airplane Accidents
- Medical Malpractice
- Product Liability
- Workplace Accidents
- Animals Attacks
- Abuse or Neglect
- Murder or Manslaughter
Car Accidents: Statistically there is a car accident every 14 seconds in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2012, there were more than 6 million car accidents with an estimated 2.3 million people suffering injured. In people ages 5-34, car accidents are the leading cause of death (Center for Disease Control). The majority of motor vehicles accidents result in soft tissue injuries.
Airplane Accidents: When something goes wrong in an airplane, major injury, or death are the most common results. These can be due to mechanical failure, or pilot error. Skydiving and paragliding would also fall under this category when there is an equipment failure.
Product Liability: Many products are recalled every year when they are found to be defective or dangerous in some way. Unfortunately, these recalls are the result, not the prevention, of injuries or death. Consumers are all too often the guinea pigs for new products. When the problems with the products have been demonstrated in homes all across America, then they are subject to recall.
Workplace Accidents: According to the US Department of Labor, nationally the most common causes of death in construction, called the “Fatal Four,” are falls, electrocutions, being struck by an object, and being caught in or between something. OSHA estimates that these four hazards cause nearly 60% of construction worker fatalities. Falls alone accounted for 35% for construction death in 2011.
Animal Attacks: According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there are 4.5 million people bitten by dogs in America every year. Of those, one-half are children between the ages of 5 to 9. One in five dog bites is serious enough to require medical care. In 2012, 27,000 people needed reconstructive surgery to repair damage caused by dog bites. About 20 people die annually from dog attacks.
Abuse or Neglect: This generally relates to the elderly in nursing homes or assisted living, or in childcare facilities. The weakest, which have no power to make known the suffering they endure at the hands of others who are charged with caring for them, need to be protected.
Murder or Manslaughter: Even if a person was found guilty of murder or manslaughter in a criminal court, does not mean they cannot be sued in a civil case for wrongful death. Criminal courts establish guilt under laws written to protect the citizens from the actions of lawbreakers. Civil court hears cases between private parties when an injury has occurred.
Medical Malpractice: Medical error is the most common cause of death associated with medical malpractice. It is estimated that 98,000 deaths a year involve some type of medical malpractice.
Q&A: What is Pain and Suffering in a Personal Injury Case?
Q&A: Who can sue for wrongful death in Texas?
Q&A: What compensation can come from a wrongful death claim?
Wrongful Death Under Texas Law
The Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code,
Section 71.001 DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
(1) “Corporation” means a municipal, private, public, or quasi-public corporation other than a county or a common or independent school district.
(2) “Person” means an individual, association of individuals, joint-stock company, or corporation or a trustee or receiver of an individual, association of individuals, joint-stock company, or corporation.
(3) “Death” includes, for an individual who is an unborn child, the failure to be born alive.
(4) “Individual” includes an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.
Section. 71.002. CAUSE OF ACTION.
(a) An action for actual damages arising from an injury that causes an individual’s death may be brought if liability exists under this section.
(b) A person is liable for damages arising from an injury that causes an individual’s death if the injury was caused by the person’s or his agent’s or servant’s wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.
Who Can Initiate a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under Texas law, people who have the ability for bring a wrongful death claim are limited to parents, children, and spouses. If there are not close living relatives or anyone able to initiate a wrongful death claim, the administrator or executor of the deceased estate has standing to sue on behalf of the family.
What Compensation Can Come From a Wrongful Death Case?
In wrongful death cases, the family of the deceased or their estate can receive compensation in for medical and funeral expenses. Other damages such as, lost earning and financial support for the surviving spouse and children can be recovered.
There can also be compensation for emotional distress, especially if the survivor witnessed the accident or negligent that caused to the death of the deceased. Other issues to bring before the court would be Loss of Consortium and comfort. Due to the significant compensation paid to the families of wrongful death cases, the litigation can be complex. We will begin an immediate investigation into your case to ensure that necessary evidence is preserved. Our attorneys will work with experts including accident reconstructionists who can assess the pain and suffering caused to the victim, and forensic accountants who can make an immediate and long-term evaluation of your economic losses. When your family suffers, you need attorneys who can provide the aggressive and effective advocacy you need to get results.
Free consultations • We will come to visit you at your home or in the hospital • Contact us 24/7 at (512) 474-0222 or use our contact form
Wrongful death case settles for $20M
Some are saying that a Kansas $20M wrongful death settlement shows the value the law places on human life.
The family of a 10-year-old boy filed a lawsuit against four parties following the tragic loss of Caleb Schwab. The boy rode a 17-story water slide with two women who suffered severe facial injuries. He became unstrapped from the raft and went airborne, crashing into the netting system placed above the slide.
After Caleb’s death, others shared their accounts of dangerous experiences on rafts. Since his death, none have taken a ride on the slide and it is expected to be torn down pending investigations from the Attorney General.
Among the almost $20 million settlement included the following breakdown:
- $14 million settlement with SVV 1 and KC Water park
- $5 million from Henry & Sons Construction, the general contractor for the Verückt water slide
- $500,000 from Zebec of North America which manufactured the raft that carried riders of the Verückt
- $232,125 by National Aquatics Safety Co. and its founder, John
- Total: $19,732,125
The value of the recovery was a shock to some, as Kansas is known for having some of the most restrictive laws in the country when it comes to damages that can be recovered in wrongful death cases. Through something that’s called “choice of law” the attorneys working on behalf of Caleb Schwab and his family may have argued that the Texas law be applied because that is where Schlitterbahn is based.
Texas wrongful death laws are less restrictive than those in Kansas.