This is the second post in our series on the handling of wrongful death cases in Austin, Texas. Our last article served as an overview of topics we will be discussing and stressed the need to speak with an attorney immediately after such a tragedy. Contacting counsel immediately can help to ensure that evidence is preserved and that you can focus on the important business of getting life back on track. In this article we will address another important topic – identifying the defendants in such a case.
We have previously discussed the need to identify all defendants in a trucking accident case. The same types of issues can exist in a wrongful death case. Depending on the circumstances there may be multiple defendants in such matters. This is because many wrongful death cases involve commercial entities. Say, for example, a big rig or other commercial vehicle was responsible for the accident. In such a situation the operator of the vehicle would obviously be a defendant. The owner of the vehicle would also be a defendant as employers are responsible for the actions of their employees. There may also be instances where additional third parties could be named as a defendant. Such instances include situations where a third party contracted with the commercial transportation company knowing that the transportation company had a history of unsafe practices. These are just a few examples of how multiple entities may be named as defendants.
It is crucial to understand that each of the different defendants could potentially be sued under a different theory of liability. In the case of a commercial vehicle, the driver could be sued for negligence. The owner of the vehicle would also be sued for negligence as he or she would be responsible for the acts of their employees. The owner, however, could also potentially be sued for negligent supervision and negligent hiring. If the commercial vehicle was owned by a business entity (such as an LLC) then it may be possible to bring action against both the LLC and the owner as an individual. Identifying all possible defendants in such a matter can be a complicated affair and it is important that you retain a wrongful death lawyer experienced in handling such matters.
One final point is that effort towards identifying potential defendants should begin immediately. Determining who the relevant parties are can take a substantial amount of time and a Plaintiff may lose the ability to name a defendant if suit is not brought within the statute of limitations (which is two years in most Texas injury cases). Contacting counsel immediately helps to ensure that the process of discovering the liable parties will begin sooner rather than later.
Contact our office today to speak with an Austin wrongful death attorney. In addition to Austin, we also service Travis County cities which include Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, the Williamson County cities of Georgetown, Cedar Park, and Leander, as well as other areas of Texas.