Articles Tagged with Wrongful Death

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Scales-300x132Guest and Gray, P.C. is the largest full service law firm in Kaufman and Rockwall counties. One of the main areas of our practice is personal injury and wrongful death. Our very own Scott Gray is a Texas SuperLawyer in personal injury and is the highest rated personal injury lawyer in Kaufman and Rockwall counties with a perfect 10.0 rating on AVVO.

Wrongful death cases are some of the most procedurally complex and emotionally difficult cases to handle. Our wrongful death attorneys know that this is a very personal and difficult time for a family who has lost a loved one in an accident. We handle each wrongful death case with a personal touch and a dedicated attorney and staff is assigned to each case. At Guest and Gray, our clients are not just another number or file and our clients know that we are truly here for them. Why? Because the case represents the loss of human life and it is our goal to provide justice in the only way that the civil law provides: monetary relief. That fact, can seem very impersonal by simply trying to obtain money for the life of a lost loved one. However, often times the person who has died is a family provider, a young person who had a long life ahead of them, or a caretaking mother and because of that, the family that remains often will suffer a financial hardship as a result of their loss. Medical bills and loss of income are some of the main causes of financial hardships and it should not be left to the family to bear the brunt of those burdens. The responsible party should be made to pay for those losses and it is the goal of Guest and Gray, P.C. to help put the family back in a place where they can continue to focus on their own recovery during this difficult time.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was not their fault, you need the help of an attorney to help secure the financial relief that you need during this very difficult time. It is often quite difficult for a family member to make insurance claims with each responsible party and then try and negotiate a settlement because, lets be honest, how do you assign a value to a loved one’s life? At Guest and Gray, we know that it is impossible. Life is priceless. However, insurance companies may try to take advantage of the fact that you are not able to push hard for your recovery and try to pay you the least amount possible. You may not be a number to Guest and Gray, but to the insurance company, this is just another claim to add onto a pile of other claims and their goal is to pay the least amount possible. Do not let them get one over on you. That is insult to injury. Literally.

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Personal-Injury-Law-300x149Between Soap Operas and the Price is Right, the other consistent day-time TV you see are personal injury attorney’s yelling at you about they will “get them the compensation they deserve” for their injuries in between scenes of car crashes and people looking strangely well groomed to be in a hospital bed after the aforementioned accident. I love those commercials. The acting is about as good as the Soap Opera episode it runs in between.

All jokes aside, the biggest hiccup that occurs between clients and attorneys is the concept of compensation. Many clients expect that since the accident was clearly not their fault, they should just get the money. Although that is quite often how it works, you have to “prove up” your damages, either during the claims process with the insurance company or by introducing admissible evidence of damages in court once a case has been filed.

Once a case has been filed, a party seeking recovery of past medical expenses must pay very close attention to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code (TCPRC) §41.0105 that says, “in addition to any other limitation under law, recovery of medical or health care expenses incurred is limited to the amount actually paid or incurred by or on behalf of the claimant.” Easy enough, right? Actually paid and incurred means expenses that have been or will be paid and excludes the difference between such amount and charges the service provider bills but has no right to be paid, e.g., amounts that have been written off. Ahmed v. Sosa, 514 S.W.3d 894, 895-896 (Tex. Ct. App.–Fort Worth, 2017).

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I find that  potential clients here in North Texas are quick to use phrases like “negligent” and “gross negligence” because they’re terms used quite often in TV shows to portray the negligent acts of another person. However, knowing how to use the word correctly in a sentence and knowing what the term means according to the law are two different things. The point of this article is to shed light on the legal meaning of the term “gross negligence”. Adding the modifier “gross” to the legal term “negligence” denotes a greater level of negligence than your standard negligence claim. When you say someone was “grossly negligent”, the hearer assumes that the other person acted absurdly under the circumstances. The hearer is right and the law would support their conclusion, as long as you can prove the behavior was absurd at the time of the accident. This is the key distinction between the common meaning of a word and its legal meaning. To the hearer, it means what it means according to its commonly understood definition. However, in this case, the legal meaning given to gross negligence shows how you go about proving the behavior was absurd. As we will see, gross negligence is defined by the Texas Practice and Remedies Code (TPRC) and provides a blue print for proving a gross negligence claim.

Under the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, “gross negligence” means an act or omission (1) which when viewed objectively from the standpoint of the actor at the time of its occurrence involves an extreme degree of risk, considering the probability and magnitude of the potential harm to others; and (2) of which the actor has actual, subjective awareness of the risk involved but nevertheless proceeds with conscious indifference to the rights, safety, or welfare of others.

The first prong of the gross negligence test focuses on the objective nature of the defendant’s conduct. A plaintiff may objectively prove gross negligence by proving that under the circumstances of the accident, a reasonable person would have realized that his or her conduct has created an extreme degree of risk to the safety of others. “Extreme risk” required for a finding of gross negligence turns upon the likelihood of serious injury to the plaintiff. This extreme degree of risk threshold is significantly higher than the objective reasonable-person test for negligence. Essentially, we must show that the person had some level of understanding that their actions were risky and involved danger not only to himself but to the public at the time of the accident.

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(photo credit: inForney.com- Mathew Richards)

via inForney.com: FORNEY, Texas — A reported reckless driver fatally struck a motorcyclist head-on Monday night forcing the closure of westbound U.S. Highway 80.

The crash occurred at approximately 10:40 p.m. on westbound U.S. Highway 80 just prior to the Farm-to-Market (FM) 548 exit ramp.
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Insurance-Claim-PictureThe insurance company is not your friend. I feel like I say this to every potential client, and I get the same response “they’ve been really friendly so far.”

Then we get into the claims process and get down to brass tacks and the client quickly realizes that, had they gone into this without an attorney, what would have been considered “fair” by the insurance adjuster’s definition would have been much different and less zeros on it.

Case in point, I was speaking to a friend recently I had not seen in nearly a decade and it came up that he had been involved in an 18-wheeler accident a few years back. He told me how he had tried to go it alone for a while against the insurance company, in part because they seemed to be on his side and they accepted liability right away. He was hurt pretty bad in the accident and required shoulder surgery and weeks of rehabilitation.  However,  in his initial meeting with the insurance company’s adjuster, they offered him $1,500. He said he couldn’t believe it and as he said it, he seemed to think that I should be surprised too, but I wasn’t.

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Fatality-Crash-Rockwall-300x225Time is of the essence if you or a loved one has been involved in an 18-wheeler wreck. The trucking company and the insurance company is going to take steps to eliminate evidence of wrongdoing on their part. You need to hire an attorney and get them working on protecting the evidence related to the accident because it has a very funny way of disappearing.

For instance, there was a fatal 18-wheeler accident involving Forney resident, Latonya Child, in Fate, Texas near Rockwall off of Interstate 30 just the other day. Absolutely horrific tragedy. The driver of the truck obviously did not stop. Although this information is generally applicable to all accidents, but if I were advising this family as a lawyer, or even as a friend, I would say: hire an attorney and do it now. I have handled too many 18-wheeler wreck cases involving incapacitating injuries and deaths to say any different. That family, and any other family involved in such a tragic accident needs someone to tell them that the insurance company is not their friend and does not have their best interests at heart, no matter what the insurance company says. They need someone to protect their rights and make sure that the person who decided to be negligent on that day and take away their loved one pays for what they did. Period.

It is vitally important to the injured party’s case that an attorney take certain actions to protect evidence in the days and weeks following an 18-wheeler wreck. The three main things an attorney needs to for anyone in such a situation send spoliation letters (evidence protection letter), get an accident reconstruction specialist out to the scene of the accident, and get ahold of all the witnesses and take their statements.

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school-bus-accident--300x142According to Dallasnews.com, a Mount Pleasant High School track coach and one other person were killed when an 18-wheeler headed north on U.S. 271 swerved into southbound lanes and struck the boy’s team bus. Along with two confirmed fatalities,  at least 18 high schoolers were injured in the crash.  The 18-wheeler also struck the car behind the bus, which was driven by one of the team’s assistant coaches. The female driver died in the crash.

The driver of the 18-wheeler was also killed in the crash.

The team was returning from a track meet in Paris, Texas, according to Mt. Pleasant Independent School District Superintendent Judd Marshall. In all, 18 of 32 students on board the bus were injured, with one coach and one student transported to nearby Tyler hospitals by helicopter and described as being in “severe” condition.

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TxDOT_Color_LOGO-300x190According to recently released crash data from TXDot, both Rockwall and Kaufman counties are experiencing significant increases in commercial traffic accidents. The data just released is from 2015, so 2016 statistics are not known. However, the number of commercial vehicle accidents increased by 34.5% year-over-year from 2014 to 2015 for Rockwall and Kaufman county increased by 20.3% over the same time period.

We know that Rockwall and Kaufman counties are experiencing extreme growth, with cities like Rockwall, Royse City, McClendon-Chisholm, and Heath as well as parts of Dallas, Garland, and Rowlett located in Rockwall county, it is no wonder that Rockwall county has experienced large year-over-year growth in commercial vehicle accidents. But over 34%? That is a crazy statistic.

In Kaufman county, what is really the most surprising is that it had more commercial vehicle accidents that Rockwall county in 2014 (113 in Kaufman county and 107 in Rockwall county). What may be surprising to hear is that Kaufman county has a larger population that Rockwall county, thanks to large growth in cities like Forney, Terrell, and Kaufman. That may partly explain the higher number of accidents, but Rockwall county is smaller in geographic size and is more densely populated, so the statistic is still a little surprising. Forney’s population alone grew by over 25% from the 2010 census to the last released data in July 2015, and Kaufman county’s growth over that same period is at exactly 11.0%.

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Scales-300x132So often we hear legal terms such as “negligence” and “wrongful death” used by attorney’s and non-attorney’s alike. It is almost common place for people to use the word when describing an accident or a person’s behavior. If you listen to some of the local radio stations here in Dallas-Fort Worth you will probably hear a few commercials for attorneys asking the question “have you been injured because of someone else’s negligence?” The word is thrown around almost nonchalant. But, under the law, negligence has a very deep and complex meaning. Using the word as a broad stroke “that was negligent” does not afford the word its due, and under the law, may not actually be so, as you will see below.

For attorney’s and legal professionals, these terms have significant meaning beyond the common understanding of the words. In law, these are called “legal terms of art”. For the practitioner of law, terms of art such as negligence, wrongful death, and the thousands of other legal terms of art have a meaning beyond just a Webster’s Dictionary definition. So, in this article we ask “just what does the word ‘negligence’ mean?”

Terms of art can have different meanings in different jurisdictions. For the most part, the term “negligence” has the same legal definition in all 50 states. However, what may be different is how it is applied in certain situations. For instance in Texas, up until 2015, evidence of a plaintiff’s own negligence by failing to wear a seat belt was not admissible to show that the plaintiff was partly or wholly the cause of their own injuries. However, that all changed with the Supreme Court of Texas’ decision on Nabors Well Services, Ltd v. Romero.  Now, it is admissible, so you have yet another reason, other than the obvious, to wear your seat belt. The Supreme Court now says that if you fail to wear a seat belt it can be used against you to limit your recovery in a personal injury lawsuit. Many other states allow such evidence to be used to establish a plaintiff’s own negligence, but there are others states who still do not allow this type of evidence to prove plaintiff’s negligence.

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Heartland-image-300x200According to inForney.com’s Mathew Richards, FM 741 is expected to remain closed for several hours as police investigate the crash. The crash was reported at approximately 9:30 p.m. on FM 741 in between Heartland and Crandall just north of FM 2757. As of 11 p.m., FM 741 remains closed.

DPS spokesperson Kyle Bradford confirmed with Mathew Richards that two people are deceased on scene, one child was flown by CareFlite helicopter to a Dallas-area hospital in unknown condition, and a second child was transported by ground ambulance also in unknown condition.

The Texas Department of Public Safety released the names of the deceased on Wednesday morning identifying the male driver of the Chevy as 29-year-old Leyva Cerda of Heartland and the female driver of the Ford as 36-year-old Kelly Jones of Crandall.