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Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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city-road-landscape-landmark-158854-200x300The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion stemming from the death of a student who was shot by a University peace officer. The student’s parents filed a lawsuit against the University and the peace officer. In response, the University argued that governmental immunity protects it from being sued for injuries related to law-enforcement activities.

Sovereign immunity, otherwise known as governmental immunity, protects government officials and entities from certain civil lawsuits. However, Texas waives this immunity in specific situations. That said, plaintiffs still frequently face difficulties recovering in these cases. Texas courts have not extended this immunity to private entities, even if they perform some governmental duties. In some cases, institutions will purport to possess these protections, even though they are private institutions.

In evaluating whether the law provides governmental immunity to an institution, courts will examine whether the party acted as an arm of the state government, and if its conduct fits within the purpose of the doctrine. Generally, private universities do not act as an arm of the state. Even if a university performs law enforcement activities that may protect the public, the doctrine does not extend to these institutions. Although Texas Education Code allows private institutions to hire peace officers, the individual officer’s immunity does not extend to the private institution.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/06/Screen-Shot-2020-06-04-at-3.53.53-PM.pngSaturday, May 31, 2020, New Braunfels, TEXAS— A 22-year-old woman died after tubing along the Comal River on Saturday, the New Braunfels Police Department has confirmed. 

According to the post, the woman, identified as Devon Walton from Houston, was near the tube chute when she had gone under the water. She resurfaced but had trouble breathing and the woman’s friends alerted the police.

Officers at the scene said the woman showed signs of labored breathing but was alert and speaking. Authorities contacted the New Braunfels Fire Department and EMS, but the woman lost consciousness before the paramedics arrived. Police said officers tended to the woman until paramedics arrived on scene and began life-saving measures.

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close-up-photo-of-a-black-and-silver-cruiser-motorcycle-s-1796053-scaledRecently, a national news source reported that Allen West, a former Florida state representative who is currently running for chair of the Texas Republican Party, suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident. Mr. West was traveling behind another motorcyclist who suddenly braked after a car changed lanes in front of him. The sudden braking resulted in a chain-reaction, causing Mr. West to slam into the bike in front of him. Emergency responders airlifted him to a hospital where he received treatment for a concussion, bone fractures, and several lacerations. This incident exemplifies the serious threat Texas motorcyclists face every day they get on a bike. Individuals who suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident because of another’s negligence or recklessness may be entitled to recover damages from the at-fault party through a personal injury lawsuit.

When it comes to Texas motorcycle accidents, there are three leading causes: failure to abide by traffic laws, driver error, and dangerous road conditions. Motorcycle accidents are more likely to occur when a motorist is disobeying traffic laws, such as speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, using a cell phone or other device while driving, failing to yield, and tailgating. Additionally, accidents often occur when a driver commits an error, such as quickly changing lanes, aggressive driving, following too closely, and distracted driving. Lastly, road conditions also affect the likelihood of an accident. Driving during inclement weather such as dense fog or heavy rain, road obstructions, sharp curves, and poorly maintained roads also lead to a higher chance of an accident.

Of course, all Texas motorists should abide by traffic laws. That said, motorcyclists should take extra care when operating the bikes because they are more likely to suffer serious injuries or death in the event of an accident. While motorcyclists who are over 21-years-old do not need to wear a helmet if they complete a safety course or purchased health insurance that covers motorcycle accidents, wearing a helmet is still a good idea because it has been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of serious injuries. Notably, Texas law forbids motorcyclists from lane splitting, which is when a biker drives in between lanes to pass traffic.

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chair-color-entertainment-fun-261348-scaledSummertime is here and that means travel season.  Staying in a hotel or resort is usually a big part of the vacation experience.  Before the family gathers up the towels and heads down to the pool for some fun remember to always be cautious and aware around the water.

Every year, hundreds of vacationers enjoy swimming at their hotel pools. A beautiful breeze and the refreshing water in these swimming pools makes for a relaxing day in the sun. Despite the benefits and many pleasures swimming pools provide to its users, there are also risks involved.

Hotel pool accidents are similar to apartment pool accidents when it comes to legal matters. Just like an apartment pool complex, a hotel pool complex must be properly maintained by staff and must be in proper working condition so that injury or harm is less likely to occur for a hotel resident or visitor. Furthermore, the maintenance staff must maintain pool safety standards by restricting dangerous areas for kids and putting restrictions around the pool so that children do not have access to the dangerous areas of the hotel pool. In addition, warning signs must be posted as well in the pool area.

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With the millions of visitors that throng to water parks each year, it is a statistical inevitability that accidents are destined to occur. Fractured bones, neck and back injuries, water-borne diseases, and even death are the type of injuries and tragedies that can unfold in the twinkling of an eye at these popular amusement places.

When water park mishaps or drownings take place, the injured victim or parent or guardian of an injured loved one can pursue compensation through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. Yet the process of determining just who is to blame for such water park accidents can be challenging because of the many legal complexities surrounding these water park accidents. 

 Water Park Accident Liability – Who is Responsible?

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/05/Screen-Shot-2020-05-26-at-1.22.28-PM.pngMay 23, 2020:  San Antonio, TEXAS–The crash happened around 5:30 a.m. Friday on Interstate 10 near the Dominion on the north side of San Antonio.  Justin Antwan Jackson, 29, the driver of the 18-wheeler, involved in the incident is now charged with failure to Stop and Render Aid after his truck rear-ended a red Ford Fiesta that was stalled on US I-10.  

The driver of the car, Donna Falkenberg, 46, was killed in the crash. She was pronounced dead at the scene.  San Antonio Police said she was not wearing a seat belt.

According to an arrest affidavit, Jackson was traveling southbound in the right-most lane when it neared the stalled Ford Fiesta, which had on its hazard lights.  Jackson told police that he tried to avoid another vehicle that appeared to be crossing into the lane next to him and did not see the Ford until the crash was unavoidable.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/05/Screen-Shot-2020-05-23-at-1.26.53-PM.pngMay 21, 2020:  HOUSTON — Water safety advocates and local authorities want you to be careful around the water this Memorial Day weekend.  Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in kids ages 1-4.  The coronavirus pandemic is making it worse.

“Because of people sheltering in place at home, and kids having greater access to water with supervision changes, kids not being in school, parents and caregivers trying to work from home,” says Alissa Magrum of the Texas Drowning Prevention Alliance.

Magrum says child drownings started happening earlier this year because of stay-at-home orders, and now she worries about this holiday weekend.  “It’s so hot, and people are going to be going to the beaches, getting to the lakes, getting to any kind of water,” she says.

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bay-beach-blue-boats-296236-scaledSummer is here and many Texans celebrate the season by taking a trip down to the lake. They certainly have plenty to choose from—Lake Conroe, White Rock Lake, Lake Amistad and Canyon Lake, Lake Travis, Lake Buchanan, and Lake Texoma are all popular choices for fun in the sun and on the water.  Sadly, too many lake excursions end in tragedy.  Boating accidents on the open water happen all too often. Accidents of this type may have many parties that hold responsibility for the wrongful death.

What About Boating Accidents in Texas?  What are the Specific Legal Ramifications Involved?

Boating accidents can also result in lake drowning incidents.  Carelessly handling a boat or watercraft can cause harm not just to people outside the boat, but people inside the boat as well.  If a careless operator who has leased a boat causes a lake drowning accident due to being ignorant to the finer points of watercraft operations, both that person and the person who actually owns said watercraft, may be responsible for an accident caused by negligent handling of that boat.  The operator of the craft and the owner will be responsible for the negligence inherent in allowing someone who lacks the appropriate skills required to operate it.

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photo-of-boy-swinging-over-body-of-water-2413238-scaledEvery year, Texans enjoy the outdoors by relaxing and enjoying time at the beach, lake or rivers here in our state.  A beautiful breeze and the refreshing water in makes for a relaxing day in the sun.  Despite the benefits and many pleasures these outdoor bodies of water provide to its users, there are also risks involved.
Sadly, too many of these excursions end in tragedy.  Beaches, lakes and rivers drownings (also known as open water drownings), boating accidents, and other mishaps happen all too often. 

Many different circumstances can contribute to an open water drowning accident.  Careless play in the water, such as jokingly holding somebody under the water without intending harm, can lead to a drowning.  Somebody could be driving a watercraft and hit a swimmer, causing them to drown.  Safety gear could fail.  

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hands-people-friends-communication-45842-300x240The COVID-19 Pandemic has drastically changed many aspects of society and has had a major impact on Texas residents’ lives. One group has been hit particularly hard: Texas nursing home residents. Nursing homes’ communal living spaces, as well as their clustered groups of elderly, ill, and otherwise vulnerable patients, have made them especially susceptible to the virus. According to a recent news report, nearly half of the reported COVID-19 deaths in Texas have occurred at nursing homes or assisted living centers. Almost 200 nursing homes in the state have reported cases of COVID-19, but public health advocates believe that there may be more unreported cases

Responding to this crisis, Governor Greg Abbott announced earlier this month that the state will begin testing all nursing home residents and staff for COVID-19. Up until now, the state has mainly tested residents and staff at facilities where cases have been confirmed, or those who show symptoms. However, the virus is known to be asymptomatic in some people and can easily spread even before symptoms begin. As a result, this new mandate for testing all residents and staff members was welcomed by public health advocates across the state.

The testing will be done in partnership with nursing homes and state health agencies. Although the current pandemic is unprecedented, nursing homes are still expected to act with due diligence to take care of their patients. This includes implementing social distancing measures, having staff and caretakers practice proper hygiene, and working with state and local agencies to implement testing quickly and without delay.

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