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Wrongful death suit arises from TX Constable's death

A lawsuit has been filed after a Texas man was killed on the job at the Steiner Ranch 160-acre wildfire last year. The 38-year old Deputy Constable had a hemorrhagic pontine stroke while assisting residents on the ranch. This type of stroke typically slows blood supply to the brainstem and eventually leads to death.

The wrongful death suit names the city, as well as Austin Energy, and attorneys hope that its filing will force authorities to release information about how the fire started as soon as possible. The suit alleges that Austin Energy was negligent in maintaining the power lines near the homes where the fire started.

The suit also claims that the man worked in extreme heat and heavy smoke for days on end in order to get families off the ranch safely. He was fatigued and experienced shortness of breath the day before he died, but he went to work the next day anyway. The harsh work conditions aggravated an underlying cardiovascular disease. According to his attorney, the man had no existing medical conditions and was not on medication.

Families who lose a loved one after an injury caused by another's negligence may be entitled to file a wrongful death suit. Typically, pecuniary or financial injury is the most common measure of damages in wrongful death suits. Courts will look at the age, condition, and earning capacity of the deceased to determine how the family's financial situation was negatively affected by his death. Damages often may cover the loss of support, medical and funeral expenses, which can put less of a burden on families during a very difficult time.

Source: The American-Statesman, "Widow of Travis County constable files wrongful death lawsuit in Steiner Ranch fire," Ricardo Gandara, Nov. 6 2012

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Brian Jensen

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