The Potential Timeframe of Resolution for a Wrongful Death Suit
Interviewer: How long could a case potentially last? What’s one of the longest cases that you’ve been dealt with in a wrongful death you’ve experienced as an attorney?
Stephen Boutros: I’ve dealt with a case that lasted a few years. I had the death of a 12-year old boy who was living in a facility for mentally handicapped children and he was killed by an older boy who was living in the same facility. A physical altercation occurred between these two mentally handicapped kids, of course one being much older and bigger than the other. When the little boy fell, he hit his head on a pool table and developed bleeding in the brain and died. I had to fight with the mental health facility for two years because they were claiming it was a medical malpractice case.
Insurance Companies and Corporations Exert An Undue Influence on Judges in Texas
The value of the case was kept under Texas law $250,000 whereas if it was not a medical malpractice case, then the damages would have been unlimited. Unfortunately, the Texas Court of Appeals and then the Texas Supreme Court and obviously, everyone in Texas knows that the insurance companies and corporations own the courts of appeals and the Texas Supreme Court. It’s hard to even call those judges justices because they’re owned by corporations and insurance companies and they rule in their favor well over 90 per cent of the time. They ultimately decided that it was a medical malpractice case when it really was a negligent supervision case. We were unfortunately capped but it was a long 2/3-year fight over that.
The Types of Expert Witnesses Utilized in Wrongful Death Trials
Interviewer: What sort of experts or witnesses could possibly be utilized if the case went to trial?
Stephen Boutros: Medical examiners to talk about the cause of death and the findings from the autopsy. First responders, E&F investigating officers, officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety and anyone that conducted an onsite investigation. OSHA if it involves an on the job injury or incident that ultimately resulted in death. Family members to talk about their damages and explain to the jury what was taken from them so that jury can place the appropriate and fair value on it.
The State of Texas Has a Separate Cause of Action for the Death of an Unborn Child
Interviewer: If there was a situation that involved a pregnant woman in an accident or something that resulted in death of her unborn child; would that be considered a wrongful death case?
Stephen Boutros: Texas is a very strong pro-life state and Texas legislature has actually passed the statute saying that there is a separate cause of action for the unborn child. So, there’s a cause of action for the mother if she unfortunately dies but there’s also a cause of action for the unborn child. Texas may not be unique; there might be a few other states with the similar statutes because normally the laws in Texas are strongly unfavorable for injury victims or death victims because this is a state that most of the politicians and justices are in the pockets of the insurance companies and corporations. But it’s also a pro-life state, so that is a one of the areas that Texas has some pro-victim legislation.
In the Case of An Unborn Child’s Death, the Mother Would be the Beneficiary of the Child
Interviewer: Does that mean that the mother will have to actually go to court for that?
Stephen Boutros: The mother would be the beneficiary of the child and she would have a claim that the child would have its own separate claim. The idea of that is established again as pro-life state and it would give some grounds in case of an unborn child being negligently aborted or something of that nature or killed in a car accident, it doesn’t matter. The state of Texas is enhancing the right to life argument by saying that this child already has a right to life. If this unborn child is killed, then it would have its own cause of action and it goes along with the whole right to life argument.