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Wrongful Death Attorney

General Motors Prevails in Ignition Switch ‘Bellwether’ Trials
General Motors Prevails in Ignition Switch ‘Bellwether’ Trials 150 150 admin

By now, you have undoubtedly heard of the ignition switch problems plaguing General Motors – which have lead to hundreds of injury and property damage claims across the United States. As a refresher, millions of General Motors models were implanted with a defective ignition switch which could actually cause the vehicles to turn off while in motion. Of course, the sudden loss of power can cause serious accidents, particularly for vehicles traveling at high rates of speed on highways and interstates. So far, the defect is implicated in 124 deaths and 275 injuries.

As a result of the widespread harm, victims of the defective switches filed lawsuits against the company for damages. As is common in complex product liability lawsuits, General Motors hand-picked three cases – seemingly representative of the types of claims overall – to engage in what is known as a Bellwether trial. A Bellwether trial is somewhat of a “preview” trial to gauge a jury’s likely response to the evidence presented. While Bellwether trials are actual trials, the results can often sway parties one way or another.

Fortunately for General Motors, the jury saw things their way following three Bellwether trials in the Houston area earlier this month. The jury took about one hour to determine that General Motors was not liable in the serious brain injury of the 24-year old driver, whose car careened out of control and killed the driver of an oncoming vehicle.

Other Bellwether trials are set to begin over the next several months, and the results of a Bellwether trial are not necessarily indicative of whether General Motors will offer a settlement to victims and their families. In other words, success in Houston does not necessarily mean the company is off the hook for the deaths and injuries of hundreds of other victims.

Contact a personal injury attorney today!

If you would like to discuss your options following a recent personal injury, please contact our office today! 

Grieving Mother Receives $50 million Payout on Behalf of Son Pushed in Front of DART Bus
Grieving Mother Receives $50 million Payout on Behalf of Son Pushed in Front of DART Bus 150 150 admin

Following a truly heinous chain of events, a grieving Dallas-area woman was awarded $50 million in a wrongful death lawsuit seeking redress on behalf of her child who was fatally pushed in front of a DART bus in 2011. Though she only originally sought $20 million on behalf of her son, the woman ultimately received more than double that amount after a jury heard testimony describing the horrific attack the child endured immediately prior to his demise. All in all, the court concluded that the perpetrators were grossly negligent and acted with conscious disregard of human life – resulting in the historic eight-figure judgment.

On November 22, 2011, while standing on the DART platform awaiting his transportation, the 19-year old victim was beaten, spat upon and attacked by four 12- to 14-year old individuals looking to rob the victim of his cell phone. Following the attack on the platform, the perpetrators pushed the victim onto the tracks where he became “hooked” to a moving DART vehicle, which dragged him over 30 feet before coming to a stop. The victim died from blunt force trauma inflicted both by the impact of the train and the savage beating inflicted by the robbers. 

In 2013, DART settled with the family for an undisclosed amount. The boys responsible for the death of the victim remain behind bars, making the $50 million judgment unfortunately a symbolic one – as it is unlikely the victim’s mother will ever receive that amount. According to reports, the settlement with DART occurred following the mother’s detailed accusations that the transit line did nothing to prevent or stop the deadly assault on her child – particularly considering the fact DART authorities were aware that the teenagers were robbing travelers and had attempted a similar robbery earlier that day. 

In a statement by the victim’s mother: “[u]nfortunately, this is about four families, and mine making five, that have been robbed by this terrible tragedy. Our kids have been taken away and it doesn’t matter if they’re 6 feet under or 600 miles away. Our kids are gone behind senselessness that could have been avoided.”

Contact a personal injury attorney today!

To learn more about the personal injury or wrongful death process, please contact Chandler Mathis & Zivley in Lufkin (1-800-657-2230) or Houston (1-877-739-7744) today. 

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleges Major Asbestos Exposure
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleges Major Asbestos Exposure 150 150 admin

For nearly a century, asbestos has been linked with deadly respiratory cancer and disease, causing many manufacturers and industrial companies to shell out millions in injury claims and settlements. Now, decades later, injury victims are continuing to come forward with allegations of unbeknownst exposure, and demanding employers compensate for the personal and financial toll.

On October 5th of this year, a representative of the estate of a recently deceased Jefferson County man filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging exposure to asbestos – which the family believes ultimately killed the man. More specifically, the lawsuit alleges the man was exposure to the toxic chemical during his work on the coastal oilfields, which were maintained by Atlantic Richfield, BP, Bridgestone, Chevron Phillips, Citgo, Entergy, ExxonMobil, Firestone, Goodrich, Huntsman, Total and Texaco – all of which have been named in the suit.

A lifelong worker on the oil rigs, the deceased man began his tenure as an employee back in the 1960’s. It wasn’t until much later that he was diagnosed with a deadly lung cancer, which ultimately took his life in 2015. In general, the plaintiff is alleging that the oil companies negligently maintained and sold asbestos-laden products – all while knowing that asbestos exposure can be deadly.

While the case is just in its infancy, it brings about an important reminder that employers are under a duty to maintain a reasonably safe work environment for employees, which includes the duty to notify employees and customers of known dangers on the premises. Moreover, commercial entities are responsible for placing reasonably safe goods in the marketplace, and can face major legal backlash for knowingly exposing consumers to harm.

Contact a Texas personal injury lawyer today!

If you are looking for a personal injury attorney you can trust, contact Chandler Mathis & Zivley in Houston today: 1-877-739-7744.

Texas Woman Files $15 million Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Healthcare Providers
Texas Woman Files $15 million Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Healthcare Providers 150 150 admin

The death of a loved one can come as a major shock and surprise, particularly to close family members. When the death occurs at the hands of a hospital or nursing home – which are meant to help heal and protect – the loss can be even more devastating. Thankfully, if neglect is suspected, grieving loved ones have the opportunity to file a wrongful death action against the alleged responsible party.

Earlier this year, a woman from Texas filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her mother, who was residing in an assisted living facility out-of-state in the central Tennessee area. According to the complaint, her mother passed away after gaining 30 pounds in just over two weeks. The problems began when the woman was admitted to the hospital for a four-day stay in August 2015 due to a host of problems related to gastritis and COPD. Upon discharge, she weighed 158 pounds. A few days later, she was readmitted with similar symptoms, including low iron levels and shortness of breath. In her first week back in the hospital, she is alleged to have gained 15 pounds despite having virtually no appetite. After determining the weight gain to be the result of severe fluid retention, she was prescribed 20mg of a diuretic every other day. However, she was only ever provided two doses during her entire stay. After gaining another 15 pounds of fluid within several days, the patient was transferred to another facility due to increasing respiratory distress caused by the weight of the fluid retention. Ultimately, her lungs could not bear the pressure, and she succumbed to her condition a few days later.

In the lawsuit, the victim’s daughter alleges that egregious mix-ups with the woman’s medication regimen resulted in her avoidable death. Further, the lawsuit advances the argument that had the doctors and nurses exercised reasonable care and caution in the treatment of the victim, she would not have passed away due to the effects of fluid retention.

For help, call Chandler Mathis & Zivley today!

If your loved one recently passed away and you believe the cause of death may be related to negligence or misconduct, we encourage you to speak with one of our attorneys right away.

To schedule a consultation, please call us today: 1-800-657-2230.

Circuit Court Makes Final Decision in $32 Million Domino’s Pizza Injury Case
Circuit Court Makes Final Decision in $32 Million Domino’s Pizza Injury Case 150 150 admin

Under the laws of personal injury and negligence, an employer can be liable for the misdeeds of its employee if (i) the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment duties, and (ii) the facts surrounding the injury were reasonably foreseeable. Keeping this in mind, consider the recent final decision issued by the Texas Supreme Court reversing a $32 million judgment against Domino’s Pizza, as the Court ultimately held that the pizza chain cannot be held liable for such an unforeseeable, random event as that detailed below.

In 2013, a Jefferson County jury awarded $32 million to the estates of a married couple killed in a head-on collision caused by a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver. According to the facts presented at trial, the driver inexplicably crossed over the center line of a two-land roadway, killing the oncoming driver and passenger. After tying the driver’s misconduct to his employer, the jury concluded that Domino’s was ultimately responsible for the wrongful deaths, and the eight-figure judgment ensued.

On appeal, the Texas Ninth Court of Appeals opted to completely reverse the judgment, holding that “the evidence is legally insufficient to support the jury’s finding that Domino’s controlled or had the right to control the details of the injury-producing acts or omissions of [the franchisee] and its employees.” More specifically, evidence revealed that the driver’s vehicle was in poor condition, and that the weather conditions on the night in question were slick and treacherous. After an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied in October, 2016, the reversal is considered final – meaning Domino’s cannot be found liable or responsible for the unfortunate fatalities.

As personal injury practitioners, we know the importance of arguing all relevant facts – particularly in the event of a jury trial. Even if a case seems improbable and the likelihood of success slim, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away following an accident or injury.

Call Chandler Mathis & Zivley today!

For help with your personal injury issue, please contact our office right away:

Texas Supreme Court Considers Controversial Wrongful Death Case
Texas Supreme Court Considers Controversial Wrongful Death Case 150 150 admin

 Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a hotly-contested wrongful death case involving the tragic death of a student at the University of Incarnate Word. When it came down to the central issues in the case, however, the court recognized the scant precedent on the matter – and heavily questioned counsel for both the University and the estate of the decedent.

According to the facts as presented at the trial level, the deceased student was shot and killed by a Corporal for the University’s on-campus security team. The incident occurred following a “physical altercation” between the victim and the officer outside the victim’s apartment. The facts further detail that the officer was on-duty, but several blocks outside of the university when he initially pulled the victim over under the suspicion of a DUI. Following the victim’s combative position against the officer, he was fatally shot five times at close range.

The officer was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in 2015. However, the surviving family of the victim initiated a civil wrongful death action against the University of the Incarnate Word, alleging that the University was negligent in its training and hiring of the officer.

In a case of nearly first impression, the University claimed sovereign immunity under the Eighth Amendment, which insulates government actors from civil liability (excluding intentional or grossly negligent conduct). The University swiftly filed a motion to dismiss, citing its protection from such lawsuits. Using a process known as an “interlocutory appeal,” the parties highlighted the singular issue for the high court to consider, which will then give great bearing as to whether the deceased’s family will be able to successfully continue their wrongful death action. In a statement by counsel for the family, “[g]overnmental immunity by a private agency induces a lot of delay to a lawsuit. Having a clear definition makes it a lot easier for everybody.”

Contact an experienced personal injury attorney today!

To learn more about your rights following a tragic injury or fatality, please contact Chandler Mathis & Zivley today: 877-739-7744.

Death by Personal Injury: What Are the Chances?
Death by Personal Injury: What Are the Chances? 150 150 admin

Though we all know that death will eventually come to us and that, no matter how proactive we are about our health and safety, it may come suddenly and unexpectedly, we have no choice but to go living our lives. At times, we all experience anxiety about the risks inherent in the process. In a world where terrorist attacks have become all too common, we cannot help but worry about being attacked in the midst of any average day: in the mall, the airport, at school, at the movies, in the nightclub. Things that we do less frequently — like taking trips, going on daring adventures, undergoing surgery, living through extreme weather events — only raise our level of anxiety.

According to the National Safety Council, many of our worries are disproportionate to the risks involved.

Their annual list of Americans’ “Odds of Dying” gives us the statistical averages of our lifetime odds of dying from various causes. This list was compiled by using fatality data for the entire U.S. population. The reason for releasing this information, as stated by Deborah A.P.Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, is that “knowing the real odds of dying can empower people to make better choices and result in longer lives.”

Of course, not all personal injuries lead to death, but they may lead to painful or even disabling injuries. If you live in the Greater Houston Area and have suffered a serious personal injury due to the fault of another, you should be sure to contact a competent attorney promptly.

Odds of Dying

While most Americans worry more about dying during a commercial airplane crash than during a car excursion, they are actually 865 times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident than in a plane crash.

Other statistics, some of which are surprising, include that:

  • We are much more likely to overdose on an opioid prescription painkiller (1/234) than to be electrocuted (1/12,200)
  • Falling is much more likely to take our lives (1/144) than a catastrophic storm (1/6,780)
  • The odds are much higher that we will die as passengers in a car(1/470) than that we will perish in a lightning strike (1/164,968)
  • We are in much greater danger walking down or crossing the street (1/704) than of being stung by a wasp, bee, or hornet (1/55,764)
  • Our chances of dying in an earthquake are far lower (1/179,965) than our chances of dying due to medical or surgical care or mistreatment (1/532)
  • We are far more likely to die unintentionally (1/31),by accidental poisoning for example, than we are to die from a deliberate assault with a firearm (1/358)

Of course statistics don’t have too much meaning except when they personally include you or a loved one. While hopefully we all take reasonable precautions in our daily lives, being injured is also unavoidable. If you have suffered a serious or even disabling personal injury during a vehicular accident, at the workplace or anywhere else due to the negligence of malice of another, you should contact a skilled and well-reputed personal injury attorney in your area. Having an expert attorney at your side can make all the difference in terms of your receiving the compensation you’re entitled to for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Top Causes of Truck Accidents
Top Causes of Truck Accidents 150 150 admin

Can I file a lawsuit if am injured in an accident with a tractor-trailer?

Sharing the road with semi-trucks and tractor trailers in unavoidable, so it makes sense to proceed with caution if you are driving along aside or passing a large truck. Because of their weight and length, trucks can be hard to navigate. Moreover, a tractor-trailer, even traveling at a normal speed, can take a long time to stop. That being said, truckers are required to exercise reasonable care when operating a rig not to injure other drivers.

Truck Accidents at a Glance

There are state and federal laws in place that require trucks to be adequately maintained and inspected regularly. In addition, truckers must have special licenses and comply with hourly driving limits. Even with all these rules and regulations in place, semi-trucks are frequently involved in accidents for the following reasons.

Improper Maintenance

One of the main reasons for semi-truck accidents is that vehicle parts and components, including braking systems, engines, tires and trailers, are improperly maintained. A trucking company that fails to abide by federal laws regarding vehicle maintenance can be found legally responsible if an accident occurs.

Driver Fatigue

Because they are often paid based on miles and have strict delivery deadlines, truck drivers who work long hours and cover vast distances can easily become fatigued. Driver fatigue is serious problem in the trucking industry, even though federal regulations impose hourly driving limits on truckers and require drivers to take breaks.

Distracted Driving

While distracted driving is serious issue for all vehicle drivers, truckers are more prone to becoming distracted because of their long work schedules and the rigors of driving. While truckers are prohibited from using cell phones, the most common cause of distracted driving, truck drivers can also become distracted by tuning the radio, checking the GPS system, eating or drinking.

 

Inadequate Training

Trucking companies routinely pay drivers to complete trucking courses and are notorious for quickly putting them on the road. These drivers are typically paid less per mile than seasoned truckers, and  many new drivers lack the experience needed to safely maneuver these large vehicles.

Improper Loading
State and federal law regulate the weight of cargo on trucks, but may accidents are caused due to improper loading. If the weight is not properly distributed, a semi-truck can become difficult to maneuver or even jack-knife, leading to a deadly accident.

In spite of state and federal laws regulating the trucking industry, truck accidents frequently occur causing property damage, serious injuries and death. If you were involved in a truck accident that was due to the negligence of the trucker or trucking company, you should speak with a personal injury attorney who can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.

Snapchat Responsible for Car Accidents and Personal Injury Lawsuits
Snapchat Responsible for Car Accidents and Personal Injury Lawsuits 150 150 admin

How does Snapchat contribute to danger on the road?

Across the country, personal injury attorneys are beginning to ask their clients if the car accidents in which they were injured may have involved Snapchat. Press releases and blogs are increasingly pointing out the dangers of the app’s speed filter feature which tracks how fast an individual is traveling while taking a selfie. What makes Snapchat photos even more dangerous than other electronic images is that Snapchat photos and videos disappear immediately after viewing, so they demand immediate and complete concentration.

If you are driving and view a Snapchat picture, you are momentarily completely distracted, and, we all know (or should know) it takes only a moment for a serious accident to occur, one in which drivers or pedestrians suffer severe injuries or wrongful death.

Only a few weeks ago, a Georgia resident sued Snapchat and the young driver viewing the device for a car crash that left him with serious brain injuries. Apparently, the driver of the car responsible for the crash, a young woman, eager to use the speed filter feature, was using Snapchat while she was speeding at over 100 mph. During her “momentary” distraction, her car crashed into the victim’s Mitsubishi, resulting in his brain trauma.

To make a tragic situation even worse, the driver at fault in this accident seems to have had only minimal car insurances ($25,000.), hardly enough to cover the medical costs of the injured party. This is part of the reason for the lawsuit against Snapchat, a firm that clearly has deeper pockets than the woman responsible for the crash.

Although Snapchat is not making any comment directly concerning the lawsuit, it has issued the following comment: “No Snap is more important than someone’s safety. We actively discourage our community from using the speed filter while driving, including by displaying a ‘Do NOT Snap and Drive’ warning message in the app itself.”

If you have been injured in a vehicular accident caused by distracted driving, or if you have suffered any injury as a result of the negligence or malice of another person, your first priority should, of course, be receiving medical attention. As soon as possible after that, you should consult with a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney to determine your best options moving forward.