Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Published on:

Photo: Boeing
Special Reporting:  Jesse E. Guerra Jr. Of Counsel attorney with Carabin Shaw PC

Boeing’s MAX Fixes Not Likely to Get FAA Approval Until February

Wow! Not sure where this leaves passengers wanting to feel safe boarding these planes in the future.  It seems that Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration have more work to do to help prevent future disasters  These planes continue to be grounded until a safer solution arises. Let’s hope for all concerned that comes sooner than later. Not sure if Boeing will go back to the drawing board on this design since there seems to be a goal to find a less costly solution to the alleged design failures as opposed to starting from scratch on a new model aircraft. Thus far, two recent crashes occurred with Boeing’s 737 MAX Airplane despite known warnings of this designs airworthiness and  control systems.  A huge question remains as to how much the FAA and Boeing itself knew about potential problems with this aircraft.

Published on:

When a Texas minor child engages in negligent or reckless behavior resulting in personal injury or property damage, the child’s parents may be responsible. The Texas Family Code, section 41 (the code), details parental responsibility in instances where a child causes property damage. Under the code, the parent or guardian of a Texas minor face liability if their child causes property damage to another in two instances. First, if the child’s negligent behavior was because of the negligence of the parent. This part of the code applies regardless of the child’s age, as long as they are under 18 years old. Second, if the child is between 10 and 18 years-old and willfully and maliciously caused the damage. To apply this section of the statute, the plaintiff needs to establish that the child had a purpose or intent to cause the accident. There are limits on the damages a Texas plaintiff can receive in these situations. A Texas plaintiff can receive actual damages up to $25,000 per occurrence, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.

Parents can still be liable even if their situation does not fall squarely within the Texas statute. Under Texas common law, parents can still face liability for injuries that are a result of their child’s willful, malicious, or negligent behavior. Texas injury victims can file personal injury lawsuits against the parent of a child based on parental negligence. Parental negligence claims often occur in instances where a parent knows that their child is inclined to engage in careless or reckless behavior but fails to take steps to prevent the behavior.

There are various situations where a parent or guardian may face independent liability or vicarious liability based on their child’s behavior. For example, according to a recent news report, a Texas father faced criminal charges after he allowed his 12-year-old daughter to drive his car. In this case, the father let his daughter drive his vehicle even though she was underage, and there was a toddler in the backseat. The daughter accelerated too quickly and ran over a man and his dogs in their apartment complex. Tragically, the man and his dog died instantly. Initially, the father told police officials that he was driving the car, but video footage revealed that his daughter was the driver. She admitted that her father was teaching her how to drive. In addition to criminal charges, the father may face civil liability for the deaths as well.

Published on:

Texas is mourning after the untimely deaths of NFL player Cedric Benson and his passenger, a University of Texas graduate. According to news reports the player’s motorcycle collided with a white minivan on an Austin, Texas highway. Witnesses state that good samaritans and bystanders offered assistance before Texas fire and emergency services arrived at the scene. Representatives at the Austin police department said that they would comment after reviewing witness footage of the accident.

Tragic Texas motorcycle accidents are often the result of some wrongdoing, and the victims and their families are entitled to recourse. Under the Texas Wrongful Death Statute, plaintiffs can assert a claim if the death was a result of the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness” of an individual or entity. Some common instances where a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate are in drunk or distracted driving accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and medical malpractice cases. Filing this type of claim is appropriate regardless of whether the state pursues criminal charges against the culpable party.

Texas law only permits specific individuals to commence a wrongful death statute on behalf of their loved one. Parents, spouses and children of the deceased individual may file a wrongful death claim. These parties can file the lawsuit individually or as a group. Texas considers adult and fully adopted children eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Children that are fully and legally adopted may not file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their biological parent. Unfortunately, Texas law does not permit siblings to file a wrongful death claim.

Published on:

The state’s high court recently released an opinion in a Texas wrongful death case involving the death of an employee that worked for an independent contractor that was hired by the defendant property owner. The issue in the case was whether the property owner could be held liable for the employee’s death based on a theory of negligently hiring.

According to the court’s opinion, the property owner was an energy company that had hired a drilling company as a contractor to drill a well. A drilling company employee died while working on the well. He was working on the well when a rope caught on a pulley, causing a pipe to hit the employee in the head, which eventually resulted in his death. The employee’s family sued the energy company, alleging that the energy company negligently hired, retained, and supervised the drilling company.

A property owner can be held liable for a claim that harms an independent contractor or the contractor’s employees if the property owner controlled the work and knew or should have known of the risk or danger that caused the contractor harm. Under Chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a property owner can be held liable for an injury to a contractor that is repairing, renovating, constructing, or modifying property, but only if the property owner controlled the work and “had actual knowledge of the danger or condition.”

Published on:

In May 2019, the state’s high court issued a written opinion in a Texas wrongful death case discussing whether an off-duty officer could be held individually liable after he shot and killed a suspect while attempting an arrest outside the officer’s jurisdiction. Under the state’s election-of-remedies provision of the Texas Tort Claims Act, the court determined that the officer could not be held liable in his individual capacity.

Under the election-of-remedies provision of the Texas Tort Claims Act, government employees cannot be held individually liable for injuries they cause to others under certain circumstances. Specifically, an injured victim cannot hold a government employee personally liable when:  1.) the employee’s actions were conducted within the scope of their employment, and 2.) the case could have been brought against the government.

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiffs’ son was shot and killed by an off-duty officer (the defendant) during an attempted arrest that occurred outside the defendant’s jurisdiction. The plaintiffs filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer in his individual capacity.

Published on:

The Texas Supreme Court recently issued an opinion in a Texas personal injury case involving the death of a 19-year-old pregnant woman who fell into a dam near Fort Worth. According to the court’s opinion, the woman tried to walk across the dam when she slipped and fell into the river and drowned. She was five months pregnant at the time. The woman’s parents sued the local water district, which built and maintained the dam, alleging that it was at fault for their daughter’s death. The water district, which is considered a governmental entity, claimed that it was immune from suit for that reason. The plaintiffs claimed that the district was not immune from suit because the claim fell under a specified waiver of immunity.

Governmental immunity generally protects political subdivisions of the state, including cities and counties. However, there are exceptions to the general rule of immunity. For example, the state is not immune for claims involving “use of publicly owned automobiles, premises defects, and injuries arising out of conditions or use of property.” Under section 101.056 of the Texas Tort Claims Act, there is an exception to waivers of immunity if the claim is based on:

(1) the failure of a governmental unit to perform an act that the unit is not required by law to perform; or

Published on:

Unfortunately, Texas personal injury cases can take years to resolve, in some instances, and plaintiffs may not live to see the final disposition of their case. This can implicate a number of procedural rules and requirements in order to ensure that the right type of case is being brought and the proper damages are being sought. In a recent case before the Texas Supreme Court, the court explained why an award for future medical expenses should stand, although the plaintiff had died by the time the case reached the court.The plaintiff was 37 weeks pregnant and receiving prenatal care from an ob/gyn when she came to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. She had seen her ob/gyn that morning for a routine visit and everything appeared normal. When she went to the hospital, the doctors discovered that the fetus had died due to placental abruption, and that the woman had developed disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a blood-clotting disorder.

The doctors ordered a blood-product replacement plan to counter her DIC. They decided that vaginal delivery was necessary and hoped that the DIC would correct itself after delivery.

Continue reading →

Published on:

A recent Texas wrongful death decision arose when a college freshman was shot and killed on a university campus. He was on his way to class when he was shot and killed. On the prior evening, another shooting happened in the parking lot of the same dorm. His mother sued the university for negligence and gross negligence.

She claimed that the university’s employees, representatives, and agents failed to use reasonable care in warning parents and students about the risk of harm on campus and in providing adequate security and taking steps to stop criminal activity.

The university filed a plea to the jurisdiction and a motion to dismiss the mother’s claims on the basis of governmental immunity. The mother argued that immunity was waived by the Texas Tort Claims Act, since the death was caused by a condition or use of real property or personal property. The trial court denied the motion and allowed the plaintiff a month to amend her complaint. The university filed an interlocutory appeal, arguing that her petition affirmatively negated jurisdiction.

Continue reading →

Published on:

In a recent Texas appellate decision, a woman challenged the lower court’s judgment in a lawsuit for negligence and wrongful death. Among other things, she claimed the lower court had made a mistake in admitting a video recording of an experiment that had happened outside of court.

The case arose when the plaintiffs claimed that a minivan had crashed into a sedan driven by the defendant at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal. The minivan passenger was the mother of the plaintiffs, and she suffered fatal injuries, dying after the accident. The plaintiffs claimed the defendant had not used ordinary care in going into the intersection without paying attention to the red traffic light, not controlling her car’s speed, and not looking out carefully or applying her brakes on time. They claimed her failure to use ordinary care was the legal cause of their mother’s death and asked for loss of companionship and mental anguish as their damages, in addition to more concrete damages.

The defendant denied the claim and said the accident was caused by the driver of the car in which the decedent was riding. The defendant lived on that street and was familiar with the signal at issue. She claimed the light was green as she headed toward the intersection, and there were no other cars on the road in front of her, although there were stopped cars on the intersecting street. There was some discrepancy in her claims about stopped cars.

Continue reading →

Published on:

A recent Texas wrongful death decision arose after a car salesman shot and killed his sales manager. One autumn, there was a confrontational sales meeting, and the salesman went into his manager’s office, took out a gun, and shot him. The sales manager died a few days later, and the salesman pled guilty to first-degree murder and went to prison on a life sentence. The manager’s family sued the salesman, as well as dealership-related entities and an employment screening company.

Back when the salesman applied at the dealership where he worked, the dealership used the services of a pre-employment background screening company to screen prospective employees. The company would interview a job applicant, perform a drug test and a criminal records check, and provide the results of the screening to the dealership. In this case, the screening company reported that there were no criminal records, and the drug test was negative. It also stated there was an inconsistency about why he left his earlier job.

The salesman was hired, and then he left on good terms and moved elsewhere. He worked at other car dealerships and then came back to Texas and applied for a sales job. He went through another screening and was hired, but he quit. He again applied with the dealership for a sales job and went through another screening.

Continue reading →