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Wrongful Death Attorney

Suing Estates and Bar Owners for DUI Deaths
Suing Estates and Bar Owners for DUI Deaths 150 150 admin

Q: Who can be sued if the drunk driver who caused the accident also died?

While state laws– as well as the particular circumstances of an automobile accident– differ, people who are seriously hurt (or the survivors of those who are killed) by a drunk driver who was also killed in the accident still may have legal recourse.

First, if someone is killed as a result of the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or inactions of another person or entity, the closest surviving relatives of the victim can commence a wrongful death lawsuit to recover monetary damages.

Compensatory damages differ on a case-by-case basis but generally include the victim’s final medical and burial expenses as well as the survivor’s loss of financial support and loss of consortium due to the victim’s death. If the person liable for the accident was also killed in the accident, a claim may be made against the estate of the responsible party, if any.

In addition, in the event of a drunk driving accident, if a bar or tavern served the drunk driver alcohol prior to the accident, it may also be sued, again depending on state law and the particular circumstances.

Texas Dram Shop laws allow victims to sue bar and tavern establishments if they served alcohol to someone who is drunk or under age and that person thereafter causes death or injury to others in a drunk driving or alcohol-related accident.

Last year, a man leaving his wife’s grave was reportedly struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver whose toxicology tests allegedly showed a blood alcohol level over “three times the legal limit” as well as “traces of several drugs including two painkillers and at least one antidepressant”. The woman, who was reportedly traveling at 82 miles per hour in a 45-mph zone was also killed in the accident. She had reportedly consumed alcohol during lunch with her sister in an establishment.

The victim’s family has filed suit against both the woman’s estate and the establishment that allegedly served her the alcohol.

If you or a loved one has been injured, or loved one has been killed, due to someone else’s actions, the personal injury attorneys at Chandler, Mathis and Zivley can help maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Lufkin and Houston, we represent accident victims and their families throughout Texas as well as those injured while visiting the Lone Star State.

 

Pedestrians Aren’t Always Safe on Sidewalks
Pedestrians Aren’t Always Safe on Sidewalks 150 150 admin

Q: Who can sue after a hit-and-run accident?

DWI car accidents in Houston are responsible for causing serious personal injuries and fatalities. This is particularly true when the victim of the car accident is an innocent pedestrian who was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Without the protection of a car of their own, pedestrians hit by motor vehicles often die at the scene or shortly thereafter from the blunt force and trauma of their injuries. Those who survive may be entitled to sue for compensatory damages for the serious personal injury they sustained.

But if the accident is a fatal one, it’s the victim’s closest surviving family members who may be entitled to sue in what is known as a wrongful death lawsuit.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving family members must prove that their loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence or intention to do them harm. They must also prove that they are suffering financially as a result of the victim’s death. Wrongful death cases are complex and differ on a case-by-case basis as to which family members may be entitled to sue and what damages they may be entitled to recover.

Generally, the costs of the victim’s final medical and funeral expenses are recoverable along with other financial compensation which is determined by examining the survivor’s loss of support, services, prospective inheritance and more related to the victim’s death.

Recently, a San Marcos man was charged with intoxication manslaughter and other charges in connection with an alleged hit-and-run accident that killed a pedestrian. According to witnesses, the suspect’s car “jumped the curb” and hit a pedestrian before continuing to speed away. The car– absent a passenger who bailed out of it after the alleged first incident – –reportedly didn’t get far before crashing into a tree after which witnesses held the suspect until the police arrived.

In addition to intoxication manslaughter, the suspect was reportedly charged with “failing to stop and render aid, escape, possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana.”

Regardless of whether the person who caused the accident is criminally charged or not– or whether those charges are upheld– a victim or their surviving family members are entitled to commence a civil suit for money damages for physical and/or psychological suffering.

If you or a loved one has been injured or a loved one has been killed in a motor vehicle accident or any other accident due to someone else’s negligence, the personal injury experts at Chandler, Mathis & Zivley can help you maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Lufkin and Houston, we represent accident victims and their families throughout Texas as well as those injured while visiting Texas.

Liability for Flood Water Electrocution Death in Houston
Liability for Flood Water Electrocution Death in Houston 150 150 admin

Q: Who is responsible for electrocution deaths in flooded areas?

A former Eagle Scout committed to rescuing animals died doing just that when he was reportedly electrocuted while wading through knee-deep water in a Hurricane Harvey flooded neighborhood.

As he was walking on a sidewalk en route to his sister’s house he reportedly “felt a current in his ankle” and allegedly told the friend accompanying him not to come near him as he was electrocuted to death. The electric current allegedly came from a light fixture on the property beside the sidewalk. Now his surviving family has commenced a wrongful death lawsuit in Houston.

The action reportedly names multiple defendants including the electric company, the company that installed the light fixture, and the homeowners of the property with the light fixture, all of which allegedly caused or contributed to the man’s death.

The man’s parents believe the electric company was negligent in failing to cut the electricity in the area which it knew or should’ve known would be flooded. They also allege that the light fixture believed to be the source of the deadly current was installed improperly and that the negligent installation was “contributing to the cause of [his] electrocution.” The doctrine of premises liability holds a property owner responsible for injuries resulting from dangerous conditions on their property. The lawsuit alleges the homeowners “negligently failed to safely up keep and maintain their property”.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the closest surviving family members of a victim may be entitled to compensatory damages if they’re able to prove that the actions or inactions of another person or entity negligently, recklessly, or intentionally caused or contributed to the victim’s death.

If liability can be established, compensatory damages awarded may include the victim’s final medical and burial expenses as well as other financial losses suffered by the family as a result of the victim’s death. In addition, the victim’s survivors may be entitled to recover damages for “survival actions” which are claims based on the degree of consciousness, the severity of pain, apprehension of impending death, and the duration of such suffering of the victim.

Because wrongful death actions are complicated with respect to who has the standing to sue and for what kind of damages, it’s important to seek counsel from a skilled wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to maximize your chances of recovering damages.

If you or a loved one has been injured, or a loved one has been killed, as a result of the actions or inactions of somebody else, the personal injury law experts at Chandler, Mathis & Zivley can help you maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. We can’t undo the accident but may be able to help relieve the financial burden it has caused. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Lufkin and Houston, Texas, we’ve been representing victims and their loved ones throughout Texas as well as those injured while visiting Texas.

Amusement Park Accident Death Leads to Lawsuits
Amusement Park Accident Death Leads to Lawsuits 150 150 admin

Q: Who is responsible for injuries in an amusement park accident?

Amusement park accidents can be the scene of some horrific injuries– somehow more tragic because they often involve unsuspecting children who only moments before were likely laughing with delight.

The legal doctrine of premises liability, a subsection of personal injury law, holds the property owner responsible for the safety of visitors to their property. This principle applies to amusement park owners and managers and the potentially dangerous waterslides, roller coasters, and other rides they offer to the public.  

Sometimes older rides with deteriorating parts are to blame for a ride accident. Other times, a new ride may have faulty construction, defective designs, or other issues that cause an accident. And other times, negligent ride operators may be to blame for the accident.

Approximately two years ago, 10-year-old boy was decapitated on what was then reportedly touted as the “world’s tallest waterslide” in a Kansas City waterpark. Two women riding with the boy suffered facial injuries.

The accident reportedly led to personal injury lawsuits by the women and a wrongful death lawsuit by the boy’s parents which were allegedly settled. In addition, criminal charges in the boy’s death have recently been brought against the designer of the waterslide, the water park’s co-owner, and a former waterpark executive.

Prosecutors allege the designer “had no engineering credential relevant to amusement ride designer safety”. The existence or absence of criminal charges does not impact the ability to sue civilly for monetary damages related to the injuries or death from the accident.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, if a defendant is found liable for negligently, recklessly, or intentionally causing someone’s death as a result of their actions or failure to act the victim’s closest surviving family members may be entitled to compensatory damages. Generally, such damages include the victim’s final medical and burial expenses as well as other damages determined on a case-by-case basis, based on financial and other losses the family member has sustained as a result of the victim’s death.

If you or a loved one has been injured or a loved one has been killed in an accident caused by somebody else, the skilled personal injury attorneys at Chandler, Mathis & Zivley can help maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. While we can’t undo the accident, we can help reduce the financial burden that it has caused. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Lufkin and Houston, we’ve been serving Texans throughout the state as well as those injured while visiting Texas, for over 40 years.

Liability for School Shootings
Liability for School Shootings 150 150 admin

Can the parents of a school shooter be held accountable for his or her actions?

Parents send their children to school every day with the inherent belief that their child will be in a safe and supportive environment.  When a school shooting occurs, it should cause all of us to pause and consider what can be done to prevent such tragedies.  In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, we are all struggling to determine just who is to blame for the deaths of 17 innocent students and educators.  Our Houston, Texas personal injury lawyers at Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC discuss who could potentially be held accountable when violence occurs in the classroom.

Are Guns to Blame? Parents? Or Schools?

On February 14, 19-year old Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida armed with a semiautomatic rifle. He opened fire, killing 17 people before fleeing along with the stunned students.  He was apprehended shortly after the massacre and is now being held without bond on 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Following Cruz’s terrifying rampage, alarming evidence of the troubled young man’s life has emerged.  Cruz reportedly commented on YouTube last year that he wanted to be a “professional school shooter.”  He had no criminal history, but was reportedly expelled from the high school for having a knife at school.  Despite these red flags, Cruz allegedly had access to 10 firearms, including the AR-15 style rifle used in the shooting. 
Seeking justice and answers, parents and lawmakers everywhere are asking themselves who is to blame for this and other school shootings.  The families of the victims have made passionate pleas for gun control, requesting bans on some semiautomatic weapons and increasing age minimums to purchase these weapons.  President Trump has stated he will consider such measures. 
As the President and congress weigh in on gun measures, the families of those killed may consider the possibility of a civil suit.  Following some school shootings, the families of deceased accident victims have filed suit against the school system, the shooter, or the parents of the shooter.  Schools have a responsibility to take actions to keep children safe and, if negligence on the part of the school allowed the shooting to occur, this could form a basis for liability.  Parents that allow unstable children access to weapons could additionally be held accountable in some cases.    
School violence is a troubling matter that deserves the attention of the nation.  We as a country must strive to end school shootings and ensure all children are safe at school.  If your child has been injured at school, take action by seeking the help of an experienced school violence lawyer.

Behavior On Which a Wrongful Death Claim Can Be Based
Behavior On Which a Wrongful Death Claim Can Be Based 150 150 admin

Q: Can an intentional malicious act be the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit?

When people think of a Texas personal injury lawsuit, they may think it arose from one of the more common accidents like medical malpractice or a car accident.

So, when police say a man admitted to punching his girlfriend’s baby hard in the head two times “causing the child’s hands and feet to begin to twitch and shake” before “he died from blunt force injuries”, most people think of the criminal charges.

But the alleged malicious infliction of harm which causes injury can be the basis of a civil personal injury lawsuit as well—regardless whether criminal charges are pursued. And if the victim dies, it can be the basis of a Texas wrongful death lawsuit by the victim’s closest surviving family members.

When someone seriously injures another person through their negligent, careless, or malicious actions, the victim can sue for compensatory damages in a personal injury lawsuit. In addition, if the liable party acted willfully or was grossly negligent, punitive damages may be recoverable. Very often, we see physical attacks– like the one alleged here–that result in traumatic brain injury lawsuits.

Wrongful death lawsuits are complicated and differ on a case-by-case basis as to who has to stand to sue and what kind of damages they may be entitled to collect. That’s why it’s important to seek counsel from a skilled wrongful death attorney as soon as possible after the death–especially since there are relatively short time limits on commencing these lawsuits.

While wrongful death lawsuits and the awards associated with them differ, generally the victim’s final medical expenses and funeral expenses are awarded along with other compensation that’s determined based on the victim’s relationship to the surviving family member.

In some instances where an adult wage-earner has been killed, there may be damages for loss of the victim’s financial support, benefits, services, and prospective inheritance. But even in cases where the victim was a child, family members can be awarded damages for trauma and loss of their relationship with that child. Damages can also be awarded based on the victim’s degree of consciousness and duration of suffering as well as their apprehension of their impending death and severity of their pain.

If you or a loved one have been injured, or a loved one has been killed, as a result of the actions or inactions of somebody else, the legal team at Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC can help maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled to. While we cannot undo the pain, taking legal action can help relieve the financial burden associated with your loss. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Houston and Lufkin, Texas, we serve clients throughout East Texas as well as many other states.

Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death? And Who Can Be Sued?
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death? And Who Can Be Sued? 150 150 admin

Over in Galveston County a tragic family drama is playing out. A young man is suing his father for the wrongful death of his mother. The case has a lot of people asking just who can sue for wrongful death, and who can be sued?

The Case That Has Everyone Talking

Johnny Eugene Oliphant has been charged with murder for the December 2016 shooting of his wife, Gina. Johnny is accused of shooting Gina in the head during a fight that occurred after he mixed sleeping pills and alcohol. While on the line with a 911 operator after Gina was shot, Johnny reportedly said, “I guess I won that one.”

Johnny is currently out on bond and awaiting trial, but now he has another case pending against him. Johnny and Gina’s youngest son, Dylan, has sued his father for the wrongful death of his mother. Referring to his late mother as his “best friend,” the plaintiff asserts “her loss has wreaked absolute havoc in his life.” He is seeking unspecified monetary damages to compensate him for his financial losses, including an expected inheritance, along with mental anguish and emotional pain and suffering.

Who Can Sue?

This case is getting a lot of attention because it is such a shocking story, but it also has a lot of people asking us “who can sue for wrongful death?”

Texas law allows spouses, children of any age, and the parents of a deceased person to file a wrongful death lawsuits. Grandparents and siblings of a deceased person cannot file this kind of lawsuit.

All of the eligible plaintiffs may band together and sue the defendant as a group, or one family member can take the lead.

If no suit is filed within three months of the date of the death, the executor of the deceased person’s estate may file a suit instead. However, the surviving family members can ask that such a suit be dismissed.

People have been wondering how old Gina Oliphant’s son Dylan is since he is the one bringing a wrongful death suit, but that does not matter under the current law.

Who Can Be Sued?

People have also been shocked that a son is able to sue his own father.

In order to properly explain who can be sued for wrongful death, it is helpful to go over what a wrongful death lawsuit actually is.

A wrongful death suit is a personal injury lawsuit that is filed against someone whose “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default” has caused the death of another.

The key to determining who can be sued for wrongful death is to look at the above definition and see if it applies given the circumstances of someone’s death. There is nothing in the law that says family members are not allowed to sue one another for wrongful death.

However, since every case is different, it can be hard to say if someone’s death was wrongful. That’s why wrongful death cases are tried in front of a jury.  

If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, and are considering bringing a lawsuit against those you believe are responsible, please consider contacting our office. We can help you evaluate your case and answer any questions you have free of charge. We represent our personal injury and wrongful death clients on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

Supreme Court Gives The Green Light To A Texas Family’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Supreme Court Gives The Green Light To A Texas Family’s Wrongful Death Lawsuit 150 150 admin

According to court documents and news reports, on May 16, 2013, police officers in Fort Worth executed a “no-knock” search warrant at a residence on Thannisch Avenue; bursting into the house without warning in a search for drugs. 34-year-old Jermaine Darden was in the home at that time, and his family alleges that the police officers’ actions killed him.

Darden’s family alleges that he suffered a heart attack and died after officers needlessly choked, kicked, and shot him with a stun gun. They filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the officers involved at the scene and the city of Fort Worth.

Lawyers for the city contended that Darden tried to resist arrest, but witnesses said he made no attempt to flee, attack, or resist.

The Tarrant County medical examiner’s office determined that Darden, who weighed 340 pounds, died of natural causes, suggesting that his heart attack was associated with the fact that he had high blood pressure and was physically restrained.

The case went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, which determined that there was enough evidence available about what happened on the night of the raid that a jury should weigh in.

Depending on how this case turns out, it may become easier for families who have lost loved ones during an incident where police are involved to sue Texas cities for wrongful death. This would be a welcome change. Families who suffer the loss of a loved one should always have the option of seeking redress from those they believe caused their loved one’s death. These suits help families who have lost loved ones by providing them with financial compensation for their loss, and by giving everyone a sense of closure.

Family members can seek compensation for:

  • Loss of financial support (typically income),
  • Loss of services (like general homemaking, but also love, companionship, and society),
  • Loss of prospective inheritance,
  • Mental and emotional anguish, pain, and suffering,
  • Medical and funeral expenses, and
  • Interest calculated from the date of the victim’s death.

Such claims must typically be filed within two years of a loved one’s death.

At Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC we have the compassion and the conviction to fight for clients who have tragically or unexpectedly lost a loved one. We passionate about uncovering the truth, and bringing those who have acted carelessly to justice.

 

Shipping Company Settles Several Wrongful Death Lawsuits Following Tragic Maritime Disaster
Shipping Company Settles Several Wrongful Death Lawsuits Following Tragic Maritime Disaster 150 150 admin

In October 2015, as hurricane Joaquin bore down on the Gulf Coast states, Puerto Rico-based cargo shipping company Totes Services made the doomed decision to send its El Faro vessel from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico – despite high winds and unsafe conditions in the seas. Tragically, 33 seamen lost their lives that fateful day when the ship lost all electric power and eventually succumbed to the depths of the ocean. The incident, deemed by the U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board as one of the worst maritime disasters in recent U.S. history, led to not only a series of investigations by interested public and non-profit agencies, but nearly three dozen wrongful death lawsuits filed by surviving family members.

Surviving loved ones were located across the Southern United States, however many of the claims were handled by Houston-based counsel who, like us, are well-versed in the nuances of wrongful death and maritime litigation. As of April 2017, the last three of the wrongful death lawsuits settled for undisclosed amounts, and the grieving families may finally be able to accept closure in the wake of a likely avoidable tragedy.

When pursuing a claim under Texas wrongful death laws, the surviving family member must essentially prove a claim of negligence – which resulted in the death (as opposed to injury) of the victim. In essence, wrongful death laws are meant to hold defendants accountable for negligence even if the victim is no longer available to initiate the claim. Here, the defendants have not actually admitted to wrongdoing. However, parties are often prompted to settle in light of facts that may not impress a jury, such as sending a vessel on a voyage amidst a violent hurricane. By settling a case, a defendant can avoid a potentially staggering – and unpredictable – jury verdict in exchange for an agreed-upon amount.

Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today!

If you would like to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney in Houston, please contact our office today: 877-739-7744.

 

Tragic Apartment Fire Leads to Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Tragic Apartment Fire Leads to Wrongful Death Lawsuit 150 150 admin

The laws of negligence assign liability to anyone who acts unreasonably and carelessly, causing injury and harm to another person. In most cases, there is no need for the responsible party to have acted intentionally, so long as their actions represent a deviation from reasonably “prudent” (i.e., careful) conduct. In some cases, negligent conduct results in the death of the victim from the injuries sustained in the accident. Under the laws of wrongful death in Texas, lawmakers and courts set out to ensure that no responsible party would be alleviated of financial responsibility simply because the victim is deceased – and created a system whereby surviving loved ones could recover compensation on behalf of their beloved family member.

Under this system, a representative for the deceased must still prove that negligence occurred, and must present a case to the judge and jury that meets the four elements of negligence: duty, breach, causation and damages.

In one recent case, which actually occurred in nearby Magnolia, Arkansas, a Texas woman is suing an apartment complex on behalf of her deceased brother, who tragically perished in a fire at the complex in August, 2015. Named in the lawsuit are five individuals who run a “joint partnership” as owners of the buildings. Specifically, the surviving family member asserts that the defendants failed to keep the building in a safe condition, and did not regularly inspect the building to ensure it was safe for not only the occupants, but those living adjacent.

According to the allegations, none of the smoke alarms were operational in the building, so the victim was never alerted that a fire was underway. For this reason, the plaintiff alleges, the building owners should be held responsible for the death of the victim, citing the non-operational smoke detectors and the actual and proximate causes of his death. In a case such as this, the plaintiff would undoubtedly need the assistance of a forensic fire expert to determine whether the lack of operational smoke alarms would have made the difference between the victim surviving or not – which would ultimately be the pivotal issue for the jury to decide following the wrongful death trial.

Contact experienced personal injury attorneys today!

To learn more about negligence, personal injury and wrongful death in Texas, please contact Chandler Mathis & Zivley today: 877-739-7744.