Austin Wrongful Death Attorney

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On this Page:

  • Wrong Way crash reminder that wrongful death a consequence of drunk driving
  • Introduction to wrongful death case
  • Types of wrongful death
  • Who can File a wrongful death claim?
  • What compensation can come from a wrongful death suit?

Driver In Wrong Way Crash Sentenced to 40 Years In Prison

A Texas State University student has plead guilty to manslaughter after a wrong-way crash in Kyle that killed four in 2015. Wilson Molinares will serve 20 years for three counts of manslaughter and another 20 years for a fourth manslaughter charge.

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Photo by KXAN News in Austin

Wrong way, wrongful death

Four family members, including a toddler, died in the crash on I 35. Just after 1 a.m. on Feb. 18 Molinares’ car collided head-on with the family’s minivan. He was driving a Honda Civic northbound in the southbound lanes just north of Goforth Road. Six family members including three children were traveling in a Ford Winstar mini-van in the southbound lanes.

Three adults including the driver, Heinrich Martens, 31, and parents Margaretha Wall Hildebrandt, 27, Gerhard Hiebert Peters, 30, were among the four dead in the crash. 16 month old Jacob Wall Hiebert also lost his life in the crash. Hays County officials said that the family members were Mexican citizens who lived in Canada.

Two girls, 6 and 3, survived the crash and were rushed to Dell Children’s Medical Center. They were released from the hospital one day following the crash.

A third vehicle was struck in the crash. Luckily its driver, 23-year-old Luke Barone was able to be treated by medics at the scene.

Reports say that all three children were in car seats and all adults were wearing seat beltss in the minivan at the time of the crash.

Following the crash, police were not immediately able to determine if Molinares had been drinking while intoxicated, but said “probably” when asked.

Hays County District Attorney said Wednesday that though nothing can bring the victims of this horrific crash back, the sentence may be a reminder of the consequences of drunk driving and the risks of wrong way driving.

Unfortunately, car accidents caused by drunk driving happen too often in Austin, Texas. This case is one of many examples in which the driver simply should have never been on the road.

Introduction to Wrongful Death Personal Injury Cases

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 against a person or company that took everything from you, might help you get just the compensation you deserve.

Compensation 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.

Many different circumstances can cause a wrongful death claim. 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.

Most 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.

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.

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.

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 behave of the family.

Find out more about who can sue for wrongful death in Texas.

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

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