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Texas Personal Injury News

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Years After Officer's Death, Texas County Sues His Family for Medical Expenses

Does the statute of limitations bar a county from trying to recover medical costs after waiting for five years?

In 2010, a Texas sheriff's deputy responded to a call seeking assistance with a traffic stop of a possible stolen car. With flashing lights and siren on, he sped to the scene but, en route, had to swerve to avoid soundproofing that fell off a flatbed truck. Gravely injured, he died eight days later in the hospital.

The deputy's father and son both sued the company that owned the flatbed truck and its driver. The deputy's widow settled with the company separately, out of court.

Years later, Fort Bend County has sued the widow and her two children seeking recovery of $300,000 in medical costs it paid when the officer was hospitalized before his death.

The county says it "is entitled to the first monies paid by any third party," notably the funds the trucking company to paid the victim's family.

Attorneys for the victim's family say that the county missed its chance to sue and is now barred by the statute of limitations, which, they say, expired two years after the accident. There were, say the attorneys, at least two previous opportunities for the county to try to recover the medical costs, but now, five years on, it is too late.

A local petition drive has expressed outrage that the county is seeking reimbursement from the late officer's family and has called upon Fort Bend to drop the suit. The county insists it is duty-bound to try to recover taxpayers' funds. The family of the victim, however, regards the lawsuit as "a sucker punch.” As of this writing, the case was still moving forward.

Surviving a personal tragedy emotionally is, sadly, often only part of the challenge. Often a pitched legal battle ensues over fair compensation for plaintiffs, with defendants launching unexpected defenses and counterattacks. If you have suffered from the carelessness or wrongdoing of others, it is important to have an expert personal injury law firm on your side to help you gain and keep the upper hand.


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