| Read Time: 3 minutes | Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death Claim vs Survival Action: What’s the Difference?

Survival actions and wrongful death claims both address legal compensation after the death of a loved one. However, there are important distinctions between the two causes of action. Depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death, you may be eligible to file for one or both legal remedies. It is important to understand the differences. Wrongful Death vs Survival Action  The primary difference between a wrongful death and survival action is the purpose of the compensation. Wrongful death claims are intended to compensate family members of the deceased. The compensation is for the injuries that the family member personally sustained as a result of their loved one’s death. These injuries could be financial or emotional losses suffered by you—the claimant. In contrast, a survival action seeks compensation to cover injuries sustained before death, by the person who actually died. Each cause of action has specific elements that must be present to build a valid case.  Wrongful Death Elements  There are five elements that must be met in order to file a case for wrongful death in Texas. All elements are necessary for the lawsuit to succeed.  The only people permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas are the decedent’s spouse, child, or parent. This rule varies by state.  The defendant in the case must be a person or a corporation.  The death was caused by a wrongful act, neglect, insufficient care, lack of skill, or default on the part of the defendant.  If they had lived, the victim would have had the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant.  The person or people filing the claim actually suffered because of the death. The suffering does not have to be physical. It can be financial, mental, or emotional.  Wrongful death is also different from criminal homicide. Wrongful death cases compensate the family financially. These are civil cases. Criminal homicide cases are filed in criminal court and can result in jail or prison time, and fines paid to the state as well as other non-financial penalties. And because the defendant’s freedom is at stake, the standard of guilt is significantly higher in criminal cases.  Wrongful death compensation exists to help ease the sting of the wrongful loss of a loved one. And although money cannot bring your loved one back, it can help to ease the pain of the loss of financial and emotional support you would have received had your loved one lived. Economic damages such as funeral expenses and other costs related to the death are available. The plaintiffs may also seek compensation for lost earnings, which is especially compelling if the deceased was the financial breadwinner of the family. Non-economic damages include loss of emotional support, mental anguish, depression, loss of consortium, and other emotional components of losing a loved one. Any recovered damages in a wrongful death case go directly to the family member plaintiffs. Survival Action Elements The Texas Survival Statute grants the heir or executor of the deceased’s estate to bring or continue a personal injury lawsuit on their behalf. There are four primary elements of a survival action in Texas.  The plaintiff filing the lawsuit must be a representative or executor of the deceased’s estate.  The deceased had a cause of action for the personal injuries they suffered prior to death. Had they lived, the deceased could have filed a valid personal injury claim for the injuries sustained.  The defendant’s actions caused the injuries that resulted in death.  A death that occurs instantaneously is often ineligible for survival action compensation because there were no injuries or suffering. If the deceased was first hospitalized for any period of time, short or prolonged, a survival action may be valid. Compensation for personal injury may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and all other claims that would have been brought had the loved one survived. Any compensation derived from a survival action goes straight to the decedent’s estate — not directly to the surviving family members. Can You File a Claim for Both Wrongful Death and Survival Action? There are some cases when the death of a loved one meets the elements of both a wrongful death and survival action claim. This occurs when an injury caused by the negligent or careless action of the defendant causes damages to the person who died (such as having to pay for an extended hospital stay), and to the family members as well. Each case is unique in the specific circumstances of the injury, action of the defendant, and suffering experienced by the deceased and the family of the deceased.  What to Know About Filing a Lawsuit for Wrongful Death vs Survival Action The Texas statute of limitations for both causes of action is two years from the injury or death. The sooner you can file your claim, the better. Over time it becomes more difficult to obtain important evidence and conduct a thorough investigation.  The Zimmerman Law Firm has been representing the needs of Texans since 1962. Our experienced attorneys understand how difficult this time can be. We are here to use our knowledge and experience to help you navigate the complex legal system and to provide you with the necessary resources to maximize your financial recovery. Contact us for your free case consultation today!

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Car Accidents

Texas Diminished Value Claims

A Texas car accident can result in severe personal injuries. In many cases, a car accident will also result in significant property damage to the vehicles involved.  In the aftermath of a car accident in Texas, you may elect to have your vehicle repaired. However, even if the vehicle is restored to the condition it was in prior to the accident, the overall value of the vehicle may still be diminished. This is often due solely to the fact that the vehicle sustained damages in an accident.  As a result, you may have to bear that resulting loss in value due to no fault of your own. Fortunately, however, there are ways to seek compensation to cover this loss of market value.  Have questions about how to recover in the aftermath of your Texas auto accident? Contact the car accident lawyers at The Zimmerman Law Firm today.   Diminished Value Claims in Texas: An Overview Before moving forward, it’s important to have a basic understanding of diminished value claims in Texas. So, what exactly is a Texas diminished value claim?  Essentially, a diminished value claim is one that you may bring with your own insurer or against another party’s insurer to cover any diminution in value of your vehicle as a result of an accident. How Do I Qualify for a Texas Diminished Value Claim?  Importantly, not all people qualify to file a diminished value claim in Texas simply because their vehicle sustained damage and a resulting loss in value. Generally, the following must also be true:  The person that caused the accident was underinsured or did not carry sufficient coverage to cover all costs and diminished value of the vehicle;  You carry uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage; and You were not at fault in causing the accident.  If you have questions about whether you qualify for a Texas diminished value claim, give our team a call today to discuss the facts of your case in more detail. Diminished Value Appraisals After filing your claim, the next step is determining an appropriate diminished value. To obtain this valuation, insurers will typically send an adjuster to value the vehicle. Common factors to consider in a diminished value appraisal include:  Make and model of the vehicle;  Prior accident history;  Age of the vehicle; and  Vehicle mileage.  It’s important to note, however, that you do not have to blindly accept the value obtained during the diminished value appraisal. Instead, consider obtaining a competing value from an independent appraiser to help further negotiations moving forward.  Need Help Assessing a Texas Diminished Value Claim?  Between personal injuries, vehicle damage, and emotional trauma, dealing with the aftermath of a car accident in Texas can be complicated and overwhelming. However, you do not have to navigate this process alone.  At The Zimmerman Law Firm, our dedicated and award-winning trial attorneys are ready to help you fight for your rights. Whether you need assistance pursuing a Texas diminished value claim or need an attorney to take your case all the way to trial, we will always pursue justice for our clients. Contact our team today for a free case review to discuss your case and see what we can do for you. 

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Articles

What are Texas Dram Shop Laws?

If a drunk driver causes an accident that injures you, you can sue the driver for personal injury. If you die in the accident, your surviving relatives can file a wrongful death lawsuit. The problem that frequently arises is that the minimum accident insurance coverage in Texas is only $30,000 per victim—and this presumes that the driver is even insured, which all too often is not the case. Moreover, personal injury and wrongful death claim frequently exceed the minimum coverage amounts. The purpose of dram shop laws is to hold a third party (typically a bar or nightclub) liable for a personal injury or wrongful death claim. Texas dram shop laws help ensure that the victim receives full compensation. The idea behind dram shop liability is that the third-party defendant contributed to the accident by serving alcohol to the intoxicated driver. More than 40 states have enacted dram shop laws.   What is a “Dram Shop”? A “dram shop” is a bar, a club, a tavern, or any other commercial establishment that sells alcohol and allows customers to consume alcohol on the premises. A liquor store is not a dram shop because it does not serve alcohol to be consumed on-premises.  Texas Dram Shop Laws Not all dram shop laws are the same, and Texas dram shop laws carry certain distinctive features. To win a dram shop claim in Texas, you must prove that: The defendant is licensed or permitted to serve alcohol or actually sells alcohol; The defendant sold, provided, or served an alcoholic beverage to a customer at a dram shop; The customer was already obviously intoxicated at the time the dram shop served them alcohol;  The customer proceeded to cause a vehicle accident; and The accident resulted in damages (injury, death, or property damage). The basis for liability is the assumption that the accident would not have occurred if the dram shop had refused to serve alcohol to the customer.   Social Host Liability in Texas Suppose you throw a party at your home. You provide alcohol, and one of your guests causes an accident on their way home. Can the victim of the accident sue you? Well, the dram shop laws of some states do allow victims to assert liability against social hosts. This is not the case in Texas, however. A victim cannot sue you for providing alcohol as a social host, except if the alcohol was given to a minor. Social Host Liability Exception for Minors The victim can sue a social host for providing alcohol to a minor if: The minor was under the age of 18 (even though 21 is the legal drinking age in Texas), The provider was at least 21 years old, The alcohol provider was not the minor’s parent or custodian, and The provider knowingly served the minor or knowingly allowed someone else to serve the minor. Except for the case of serving alcohol to a minor, a social host is not liable under the Texas dram shop law—even for providing alcohol to an obviously intoxicated guest.  Take Decisive Action The best time to begin preparing your claim is as soon as possible. Doing the groundwork for your claim promptly prevents it from growing stale with time. The Zimmerman Law Firm P.C. has been fighting for the rights of central Texans since 1962, and our attorneys enjoy the benefit of over 85 years of combined experience. Allow us to put our knowledge of Texas dram shop laws to work for you. Contact us 24/7 by calling 254-333-8869 or by contacting us online.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Injuries

Common Types of Personal Injury Cases

Were you or your loved one injured as a result of someone else’s carelessness? Maybe you’re dealing with medical bills or you lost time from work because of your injuries.  Common types of personal injury cases include car or truck accidents, workplace incidents, and product defects. Types of injuries in personal injury cases include neck and back trauma, burns, amputations, fractures, and any serious injury stemming from someone else’s negligence.  The key qualification for personal injury cases is that someone did something or failed to do something, and as a result, you or your loved one was injured and suffered damages. Your personal injury attorney can answer any questions you may have about whether your case qualifies and help you navigate the next steps.  Vehicle Accidents In both 2020 and 2019, there were just under 4,000 fatalities each year from traffic accidents involving motor vehicles. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2020 there was not one single day without a death on the state’s roadways. Of those deaths, just under 500 were motorcycle riders, and one in five were pedestrians. Whether you were the driver, passenger, or pedestrian harmed in a motor vehicle accident, a personal injury lawsuit can compensate you for medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  Wrongful Death When a loved one dies as a result of someone’s carelessness, their family can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. It allows the family to recover for such things as funeral expenses, medical bills, compensation for the lost income, and loss of companionship.  Workplace Accidents If you were injured on the job, you might be entitled to financial relief for your medical expenses and time away from work. Compensation for workplace injuries usually comes from workers’ compensation. Children’s Injuries  If your child is being bullied or harassed and the school fails to address the issue, it might be liable for any injuries your child suffers as a result. Children have suffered serious injuries and even suicide as a result of bullying. Other child injuries can happen from car and bicycle accidents or sexual assault. If someone injured your child, you can file a personal injury claim to hold the other party accountable. Product Defects Product defect injuries happen from defects in the design or manufacturing of a product or where a company fails to properly warn of their product’s dangerousness. Some examples of defective items that have caused harm to people include airbags, asbestos, household chemicals, children’s toys, and recalled cars. The Zimmerman Law Firm Is Your Texas Personal Injury Resource Other personal injury claims include animal bites, slip-and-falls, asbestos exposure, and nursing home abuse. Whatever your circumstances, the Zimmerman Law Firm can fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We are not the typical “assembly line firm”—personal attention and client communication is key. When you come in to speak with us, you will meet the attorney handling your claim, not a paralegal or intern. Contact us today to schedule your consultation. We have offices in Waco and Austin for your convenience. 

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Wrongful Death

Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxable Income?

Texas law allows for anyone who suffered the loss of a loved one to pursue a wrongful death case. Through a Texas wrongful death lawsuit, surviving loved ones can obtain monetary compensation for the losses they endured as a result of the negligent party’s actions. A wrongful death award can easily reach the six and seven-figure range. This may lead many families to wonder, Are wrongful death settlements taxable? Generally, damages collected through a wrongful death lawsuit are not taxable income under the United States Internal Revenue Code. This is because damages in a wrongful death claim compensate a grieving family for losses they sustained and are not considered “income.” However, the IRS will assess tax on certain portions of a wrongful death award. Damages in a Texas Wrongful Death Lawsuit Losing a loved one in a preventable accident is one of the most horrific events a family can experience. To help offset the impact of such a tragedy, Texas law allows surviving families to pursue financial compensation from the at-fault party. While every case is unique, a Texas wrongful death case often contains compensation amounts for the following: Loss of financial support; Loss of future financial contributions; Loss of household services; Loss of company and companionship; Mental and emotional anguish; and Funeral costs and burial expenses. These damages all fit into the category of “compensatory damages,” meaning they compensate a family for their losses related to the accident. In addition, courts award punitive damages in some Texas wrongful death cases. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages (or exemplary damages) focus on punishing the at-fault party for their actions. Punitive damages are not awarded in every case. To obtain punitive damages, a family must show that the at-fault party acted with fraud, malice, or gross negligence. Not only that, but a family must prove that punitive damages are appropriate by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a high legal standard. When Are Wrongful Death Settlements Taxable? While the tax code is quite complex and exceptions exist, the general rule is that compensatory damages are not taxable while punitive damages are taxable. The reason for this goes back to the purposes of each type of damages award. Compensatory damages help offset the losses a family suffers, and therefore, are not considered income by the IRS. In other words, these damages make up for a loss.  On the other hand, punitive damages do not relate to a family’s losses and instead are meant as a form of punishment. Because of this, the IRS considers punitive damages as taxable income in most cases.  How Tax Consequences Play Into Wrongful Death Settlement Negotiations Most Texas wrongful death cases do not go to trial. Instead, the grieving family reaches an agreement with the insurance company to settle the case. Insurance companies like to settle cases because it limits their risk. However, they also want to settle a case for as little as possible. When engaging in settlement negotiations, it is important that you understand the tax consequences of the insurance company’s offer. For example, emotional distress damages can fall into the category of compensatory or punitive damages, depending on how they are classified. Settlements in wrongful death cases often involve significant amounts of money. And given the high income-tax rate, it is imperative that families do everything they can to keep as much of the settlement as possible. An experienced Texas personal injury attorney can help you understand the tax repercussions of an insurance company’s proposed offer. A lawyer may also help you negotiate a more favorable settlement. In short, you should always discuss the tax consequences of a wrongful death lawsuit with your lawyer before accepting any offer from the insurance company.  Contact the Texas Wrongful Death Lawyers at the Zimmerman Law Firm, P.C. If you recently lost a loved one in a Texas accident, the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Zimmerman Law Firm, P.C., are here for you. Our team of attorneys has more than 85 years of experience advocating on behalf of injury victims and their families. We routinely handle cases involving some of the largest insurance companies in the country. With our help, you can hold the negligent party responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions. Not only can this provide your family with much-needed compensation in the wake of the tragedy, but it will also make Texas a safer place by discouraging dangerous and irresponsible behavior. We handle all types of personal injury cases, including those involving car accidents, slip and falls, work injuries, and product liability claims. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 254-272-3220 today. You can also reach us through our online form.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Wrongful Death

How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?

If a loved one passes away due to someone else’s negligence, you should always look into filing a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. The damage that such a loss can have on a family is enormous, so affected parties deserve compensation for their loss. Compared to other civil claim settlements, wrongful death settlements are often very significant in size and scope. If the person you lost was your family’s primary earner, a wrongful death settlement may be essential to your financial stability. Because of this, one of the most common questions we get from our clients in wrongful death cases is, How are wrongful death settlements paid out? There is more than one way that a wrongful death settlement can be paid out. In this piece, we outline those options for you.  What Is in a Wrongful Death Settlement? As noted, wrongful death settlements differ from other civil settlements in their size and scope. This is particularly true when the deceased individual has a family for which they are the primary source of income. In such an event, recoverable damages often include: Funeral and burial expenses; Loss of the deceased individual’s future earnings; Loss of employment benefits (often including insurance coverage); Retirement contributions; and Non economic damages like grief, loss of a loved one, and loss of consortium or companionship. The combination of these damages often exceeds six figures. For example, the 2014 wrongful death of Eric Garner in New York City led to a payout of $5.9 million for his family. That doesn’t mean that your wrongful death settlement will end up in the seven-figure range; there was a lot that went into the Eric Garner case that was atypical of wrongful death claims. Still, this figure illustrates the potential enormity of wrongful death claims. What Options Do I Have for My Wrongful Death Settlement Payout? Because the potential size of a wrongful death settlement is so great, it is important to consider how that money is paid out. After all, you want to set yourself up for long-term financial security. Fortunately, there is more than one way that we can structure wrongful death lawsuit payouts. If you are in the initial phase of filing a wrongful death claim, you should carefully consider how you want to receive your settlement money at the end of the day. Lump Sum Wrongful Death Lawsuit Payout Your first option is to take a lump sum payout of your wrongful death settlement. A lump sum payment is just what it sounds like: you receive a one-time lump sum. The lump sum encompasses the entirety of your settlement, and you can do with it what you wish. The advantage of a lump sum settlement payout is that you get all the money at once. You can take care of any expensive bills you have and spend, save, or invest your money entirely as you wish.  Ironically, receiving all your money at once can also present a drawback. When people receive a significant sum of money all at once, the temptation to spend the money is always there. As a result, sometimes people who accept lump sum payments end up spending the money sooner than they anticipated. This, of course, can lead to financial instability and insecurity. One of the other drawbacks to lump sum settlements is tax-related. For any income generated by the lump sum payment (dividends, capital gains, etc.), you are liable for the related income tax.  Structured Settlement Wrongful Death Lawsuit Payout The other option is to negotiate a structured settlement in your wrongful death case. With a structured settlement, you receive a specified amount of money at defined intervals. You can set up your structured settlement so that you receive a certain amount each year, each month, or even every other year. The advantage this provides is long-term financial security. Many people designate a third party to invest their settlement money for them so that it generates income as it “sits.” Investment can enhance each of the periodic payments. Even better, the income that the invested money generates is not considered taxable. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to structured settlement payouts is their inflexibility. When you set up your structured settlement payouts, you can do so at whatever interval or the amount you want. However, once the agreement is set, altering it is not easy, and sometimes impossible. Thus, many consider structured settlements risky due to their inflexibility. What If I Take a Lump Sum and Want Something Different? People change their minds all the time. It is only human for us to change our viewpoint on something as new circumstances and facts come to light. Unfortunately, once you receive your lump sum wrongful death payout, you can’t exactly give the money back. The agreement was made and fulfilled, so you really can’t change it.  However, you can still set yourself up with something similar to a structured settlement payout if you choose to do so at a later date. To do that, you just need to purchase an annuity with your lump sum. You get to decide the terms of the annuity, similar to a structured settlement. Aren’t Sure Which Direction to Go with Your Wrongful Death Settlement Payout? If you are planning to file a wrongful death claim and aren’t sure how you want to receive your settlement, we at The Zimmerman Law Firm can help. We will review your case with you, go over your financial needs and circumstances, and help you make the right decision for you and your family. Wrongful death claims are always difficult for families, so at The Zimmerman Law Firm, we always take a compassionate approach with our clients. Our goal is to make sure you get everything you need to set yourself up for the future. That’s why we always have someone available to answer your questions. If you want to see if we are a good fit for your needs, contact us today for an entirely risk-free consultation. From there,...

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Premises Liability

When can I sue for dog bite injuries suffered in Texas?

It is no secret that American citizens have an ongoing love affair with dogs and puppies of all kinds. Whether they own a mixed breed or a purebred, most people never expect their furry friends to cause other people injury. Unfortunately, dog bites can and do occur in the state, usually on another person’s property. Under certain conditions, which will appear later in this post, it may be possible for bite victims to file a premises liability suit against the owner of a dangerous dog. Texas Dog Bite Laws Over the years, the laws surrounding dog attacks have become complicated in many states. Maybe this is because there are just so many pet dogs in the country, or perhaps it is because too many dog bites occur. In Texas, the law seems simple. There are just a few paragraphs devoted to dog bite law in the state. Breaking it down in an easily understood portion, the law says this about bites. Proving a Texas Dog Owner’s Negligence Dog owners are liable for bites/attacks as long as victims can prove negligence. Examples of such negligence include the following: The owner knew that the dog could be dangerous The owner failed to secure the animal properly The owner’s unsecured dog makes an unprovoked attack on another person Because the victim must prove negligence, the state’s law is not as simple as it seems. In turn, this makes it challenging to pursue a premises liability suit over a dog bite. However, it is certainly not impossible, especially if you have legal assistance from an experienced Texas dog bite attorney experienced in premises liability, as well as personal injury. Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer in Texas By working together, you and your Texas dog bite lawyer have an excellent chance of filing a successful claim and acquiring the financial compensation you need to make a full recovery. Contact us online or call (254) 752-9688 today for a free consultation.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Wrongful Death

Elements of a Texas Wrongful Death Claim

A legal claim for wrongful death can be brought by loved ones seeking justice and financial relief on behalf of a loved one who passed away due to the negligence of another party. This cause of action is not applicable to every accidental death situation. Specific wrongful death elements must be present to succeed on this legal claim.  In Texas, wrongful death occurs when the injured person would have had the right to file a personal injury lawsuit if they had lived. This also applies in the case of an unborn fetus.  Wrongful Death Elements There are four elements to this cause of action that the plaintiff must prove to win a lawsuit. These are similar to the elements that must be established for Texas personal injury claims. Each wrongful death element is crucial to the case. Under Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code §§ 71.001 to 71.003, if all elements of wrongful death are present, loved ones are entitled to damages.  Duty The first element of a wrongful death claim is that the defendant owed a duty of care to the person who died. One example of duty of care is the duty to obey traffic safety laws such as stopping at a red light, or not texting while driving. Breach of Duty You must next prove that the defendant breached their duty. A breach of duty occurs when a party fails to behave with the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise in a similar situation. Causation The causation element of wrongful death requires you to show that the death was caused by the breach of duty. There are two types of causation: Cause in fact means that the death would not have occurred but for the defendant’s actions; and Proximate cause means that the act was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s breach of duty. “Fault” is another way to think about the wrongful death element of causation.  Damages Finally, the negligent party’s actions must have caused damage. In the case of a wrongful death claim, the damages you must prove are those suffered by the loved ones of the deceased person as a result of the death—for example, loss of financial support and loss of companionship. Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas? A handful of people are permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit. These include the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and parents.  If none of these surviving relatives files the suit within three months of the death, a personal representative of the estate may file the claim instead. The Texas wrongful death statute of limitations give you two years to file the claim after the death of your loved one.  Proving the Elements of a Wrongful Death Suit Keeping accurate records of all the events surrounding the death of your loved one is the first step in building a successful case that meets all wrongful death elements. This includes accident reports, medical records, autopsy reports, and more. These documents can be difficult to compile as well as heartbreaking, but they are necessary. Your legal team will be able to guide you through this process, as well as conduct an investigation to determine the defendant’s level of culpability.  Our legal team at The Zimmerman Law Firm has over 85 years of combined experience representing clients with their personal injury and wrongful death cases. We can help you determine the value of your claim and the best way for you to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us for your free consultation.  FAQ What Are the Elements of Wrongful Death in Texas? There are four elements of wrongful death. These elements include duty, breach of duty, causation, and damage. Each element must be present to bring a cause of action.  Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Texas? The decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and parents are all eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Texas. If these surviving family members do not file within three months of the death, a personal representative of the estate may file the claim instead. How Can an Attorney Assist in Your Wrongful Death Case? An experienced wrongful death attorney will determine the value of your case, investigate the death, gather proof of the negligent action that caused the death, negotiate with insurance companies, timely file paperwork, and represent you at trial if necessary.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Car Accidents

What Are the Most Common Rear-End Collision Injuries?

The injuries caused by a rear-end collision range anywhere from minor bruises and scrapes to debilitating brain injuries or loss of limb. Many victims usually underestimate the severity of their injuries, especially if those injuries are internal. Rear-end collisions often lead to these types of serious injuries, so it’s important to seek medical care immediately following the accident. After receiving care, our Texas personal injury attorneys can help you file a claim for the compensation you need to recover. Here are the most common rear-end collision injuries and the symptoms you should look out for. Whiplash This is by far one of the most common rear-end collision injuries. Whiplash occurs when a sudden movement snaps the head or neck forward or backward. This causes the ligaments and muscles of the neck to overstretch, often leading to a strain or tear. While whiplash is more likely to occur in high-speed collisions, it also happens in low-speed accidents.  The symptoms of whiplash from rear-end collision include muscle soreness, headache, numbness, dizziness, spasms, and stiffness. Many of these symptoms last for days or weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. Spinal Injuries Back injuries, including damage to the spine, are some of the most serious rear-ended collision injuries. The impact from a rear-end crash not only strains muscles in the lower back, but can also lead to fractures in the vertebrae or herniated discs. This often results in life-long complications and chronic pain. Symptoms of spinal injuries include headache, lower backache, arm pain, leg pain, stiffness, difficulty walking, numbness in the extremities, bladder control issues, and paralysis. The amount of time that it takes to recover depends on the severity of the back injury. For bruises and strains, pain may last for a few weeks. However, more serious injuries such as herniated discs or facet joint damage can cause lingering pain for several years.  Head and Facial Injuries Most common car accident injuries involve some damage to the face or head. In rear-end collisions, these injuries typically occur when a driver’s head strikes their window, steering wheel, or dashboard. Injuries to the head can be life-threatening, so it is best to get checked by a medical professional immediately following the accident.  A majority of facial injuries come in the form of bruises, cuts, scrapes, broken teeth, or a broken nose. While these injuries may not seem serious, they often require long-term treatment and can cause permanent disfigurement. The most dangerous kind of head damage is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI can be caused by whiplash or head trauma and usually results in a concussion. The damage from a TBI is often permanent, leading to life-long neurological issues, including the following: Memory loss; Lack of focus; Impaired movement; Loss of balance; Depression; Sleep disorders; Light or noise sensitivity; Mood swings; Slurred speech; Nausea; and Seizures. For this reason, head injuries of any kind should be taken seriously after a rear-end collision, even if they initially seem to be minor. Chest Injuries Injuries to the chest, including fractures, are very common in rear-end collisions. While seatbelts and airbags prevent many fatal injuries, they can break your ribs during more severe crashes. This is especially true in a rear-end collision since the force pushes the occupants forward.  Immediately following an accident, it may be difficult to know if you have broken ribs. While sharp pain accompanies more severe fractures, cracks or hairline fractures may be less obvious and difficult to discern. Some symptoms of broken ribs include swelling, heat in the area, bruising, stiffness, and weakness. Severe pain when breathing, coughing, laughing, or twisting your body may also be an indication that you have broken ribs. Amputations Unfortunately, amputations happen often in severe rear-end accidents. In many cases, the force of the collision causes the car to crumple, leaving the victim vulnerable to crushed limbs. When this happens, emergency responders may have no choice but to remove the limb in order to save the victim’s life.  Amputations are life-altering injuries that drastically decrease a victim’s quality of life. Victims often need years of rehabilitation and psychological therapy to recover. And after some time passes, they may experience further complications that require additional surgeries. Some complications that may arise down the road include infections, blood clots, swelling, or heart issues. Injured in a Rear-End Collision? Call The Zimmerman Law Firm Today If you sustained injuries like the ones listed above in an accident that wasn’t your fault, we can help. For nearly 60 years, The Zimmerman Law Firm has been representing clients throughout Texas with their personal injury claims. Our experienced personal injury attorneys know that you need a compassionate advocate to fight for you. We will tirelessly work to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery.  Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our personal injury lawyers. We are proud to serve clients from our offices in Waco, Austin, Round Rock, and Killeen.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Wrongful Death

Average Wrongful Death Settlement: What to Expect

If you have experienced the loss of a loved one due to the negligence or recklessness of someone else, you may be entitled to compensation for wrongful death. The amount you are eligible to receive will depend on a number of factors. There is no real way to determine the average wrongful death settlement because the circumstances of death are unique to each case. However, a personal injury lawyer can help you estimate the value of your claim. What Is Wrongful Death? A claim for wrongful death compensates the close family members of a deceased person for losses they experience as a result of their loved one’s death. To have a valid cause of action, the action or inaction that resulted in death must have been intentional or negligent. The action must have been the cause of or a contributing factor to the death of your loved one.  Potential Compensation for Wrongful Death Cases Compensation for wrongful death takes into consideration the impact of death on survivors. Damages can be both economic and noneconomic. Exemplary damages (also known as punitive damages) may also be available in egregious cases. Economic Economic damages are those that can be proven objectively using bills and invoices. Costs covered may include: Funeral and burial expenses;  Loss of decedent’s expected earning capacity;  Loss of benefits such as medical insurance coverage or pension plans;  Loss of inheritance; and Value of any goods or services that would have been provided.  Most estimated wages and benefits are calculated through the decedent’s intended retirement age. Non-Economic Damages that don’t come with a written cost are harder to prove but still just as valid. Non-economic damages attempt to place a value on the mental and emotional components of wrongful death. Non-economic damages may include: Mental anguish; Post-traumatic stress; Loss of the care, protection, and guidance from the deceased;  Loss of household services of the deceased; Loss of love and companionship; and  Loss of consortium.  Non-economic damages may require witnesses and expert testimony to prove that the damage occurred. Exemplary Damages Egregious behavior may be costly. An additional payout in the form of exemplary damages may be required to punish a defendant. These damages are most likely in cases where the defendant is a big corporation that would be undeterred by a small payout. But they could be available any time intentional conduct or gross negligence is involved, such as in the case of an accident caused by a drunk driver with repeat offenses.   Examples of Average Wrongful Death Settlements Wrongful death claims can come in all shapes and sizes. Who you are bringing the claim against will also impact average wrongful death settlement amounts.  A Texas court awarded a $9,360,000.00 verdict in 2019 against the City of Austin doing business as Austin Energy. The company was found negligent in operating and maintaining high voltage power lines that ran dangerously close to the side of a nightclub. This negligence resulted in the electrocution that killed Jaime Membreno. ​​ In 2019, Greyhound Bus was ordered to pay $20,000,000 for the wrongful death of a 25-year-old Texas resident who was hit while trying to get the driver’s attention to board the bus. The driver erred when he left the bus stop prior to the scheduled time and did not conduct a headcount.  A $4,500,000 wrongful death settlement was negotiated with Bexar County, Texas, in a lawsuit involving the fatal 2017 shooting of a 6-year-old caught in police crossfire. The person the police were seeking entered the home of the boy’s family without invitation. Officers thought she was armed and opened fire.  Factors That Impact Your Wrongful Death Settlement The amount of compensation you receive for your wrongful death lawsuit will depend heavily on the circumstances of the case including:  How the death occurred: Who was responsible: The degree of responsibility for the death; Other factors contributing to death; The age of the deceased; Salary and earning potential of the deceased; and Financial dependence of family members. If the death of your loved one was caused by the negligent or wrongful actions of an individual, your settlement may be different than if it had been caused by a large corporation.  Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney The experienced team at The Zimmerman Law Firm has been fighting for the rights of central Texans since 1962. We understand how difficult it is to handle legal matters when you are grieving. Every case is important to us, and our team is dedicated to providing each client with individual attention and compassionate representation.   Do not settle for less than what you deserve for your wrongful death lawsuit. You have already been through enough. We’re here to help, and we don’t recover unless you do. Contact The Zimmerman Law Firm for your free case evaluation.

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