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As health officials continue to investigate the causes of deaths that were related to Winter Storm Uri, one area that is coming into focus is patients who require medical devices powered by electricity.
Can I file a winter storm wrongful death lawsuit?
Yes. If a loved one passed away, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against negligent Texas power companies. Based on the information provided on the Texas Department of State Health Services website, there are three main ways DSHS is notified of disaster-related deaths in the following ways:
- Medical certifiers submit a DSHS form specifying that a particular death was related to a disaster.
- Medical certifiers flag a death record as disaster-related.
- DSHS epidemiologists match public reports of disaster-related deaths to death certificates.
Even if you don’t have the above, it’s still important that you contact an attorney right away to discuss your situation and your legal options.
What kind of medical equipment could have failed during the Texas freeze?
Around 12% of Texans live with some kind of disability. While not all disabilities require assistance from medical equipment, a considerable percentage do. Medical equipment that could’ve failed during the massive Texas power outages include the following:
- Power wheelchairs or mobility devices
- Oxygen concentrators
- Infusions, intravenous equipment, and feeding equipment
- Chair lifts
- Communication devices
- CPAP and other sleep apnea devices
- Suction pumps used by individuals with difficulty swallowing
- Dialysis machines
- Electric beds
Patients who require oxygen machines need electricity 24/7. In addition, there are some medical conditions that require a person to have access to special heating and cooling to sustain their lives.
How many people died from the freezing conditions?
As of March 26, 2021, it is still not clear how many people died from Winter Storm Uri, but millions of Texans sat in the dark. However, the most recent data from DSHS says that at least 111 people died from the winter storm—a majority from hypothermia.
Other causes of power outage deaths included:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Medical equipment failure
- Falls and Fire
These winter storm power outage deaths occurred across 24 counties between Feb. 11 and March 5. Below are the counties that the Texas Department of State Health Services has identified where at least one winter storm-related death occurred:
- Aransas – 1
- Bandera – 1
- Bexar – 1
- Cass -1
- Collin – 2
- Fort Bend -2
- Frio- 1
- Galveston – 1
- Grayson – 1
- Hale – 1
- Harris – 31
- Hopkins -1
- Kendall – 1
- Lavaca – 2
- Lee – 1
- Montgomery -1
- Pecos -1
- Rusk – 1
- San Saba -1
- Sutton- 1
- Taylor- 5
- Wharton – 1
- Wichita – 1
- Williamson – 1