freeway trafficPersonal injury lawsuits, such as those arising from automobile accidents, are most often based on a theory of negligence. In order to be successful in a negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove each of the four elements of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence.

These elements are duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. If the plaintiff fails to prove any of these elements, his or her case against the defendant will fail, and the plaintiff will recover nothing from that party.

Sometimes it is up to the jury to decide whether the plaintiff has met his or her burden of proof, but sometimes such matters are addressed during pre-trial proceedings before the judge of the court.

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lawn mower

It is not unusual for an attorney to represent a person injured in an automobile accident on a contingency fee basis. Under such an agreement, no money is required up front. Instead, the attorney is paid a percentage of the settlement or judgment when the case is over. Both the attorney and the client have an incentive to accept such an agreement. The client gets legal representation without having to pay an upfront legal fee, and the attorney has the promise of payment when the work is done.

But what happens when there is another interested party that is not privy to this contractual fee agreement – for instance, an employer that has a subrogation interest in the case due to workers’ compensation benefits paid to the client because the injury in question happened on the job? Does that third party owe a legal fee? If so, how much?

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cellular phones

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two or three weeks, you have probably heard about the recently released, location-based mobile game known as “Pokémon Go.”

Proponents of the game claim that it serves a useful purpose in that it gets otherwise sedentary video game players off the couch and out into the great outdoors in the quest in search of Pokémon, but critics of the game point to the dangers inherent in a distracted Pokémon Go player wandering around in the open while staring intently at his or her cell phone. Now, Pokémon Go has been associated with a car accident here in east Texas.

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semi truckFatigued driving is one of the leading causes of truck accidents in east Texas and across the nation. Although regulations are in place limiting a trucker’s daily and weekly working hours, not all truckers or trucking companies obey the law.

Instead, they falsify log books and other records to make it seem as if a trucker is resting when, in actuality, he is out on the road. Recently, an east Texas trial court sent a strong message discouraging this practice.

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antique clockIf you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should know that you have a limited time in which to file suit against the person whose negligence you believe caused the crash. In Texas, this period is generally two years. (Of course, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced injury attorney about the details of your particular case.)

Except in very rare instances, a failure to timely file suit will result in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s case, regardless of its merits.

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city bus

In some ways, litigating a negligence claim is similar to completing a puzzle. First, it is necessary to fill in the basic elements of negligence:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. For the most basic of claims, only these four “corner” pieces of the puzzle are necessary.

Unfortunately, there are very few “basic” claims. Most cases involve many other pieces, with issues such as insurance coverage, uninsured/underinsured motorist claims, contributory negligence or comparative fault, and sovereign immunity often being part of the puzzle.

Each of these pieces can affect the amount of compensation that the plaintiff ultimately receives – and, sometimes, whether he or she receives anything at all.

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A car accident lawsuit involves three distinct phases:  pre-trial discovery, trial, and post-trial proceedings (including, in some cases, an appeal). During discovery, each party has an opportunity to discover facts and theories about the other’s case. The idea is that full disclosure will encourage settlement, and it often does.

However, although the ultimate goal may be a mutual agreement to end the litigation, the process is often contentious, involving many motions, hearings, and pre-trial orders.

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semi truckIt can take a long time for victims of truck and car accidents to receive fair compensation for injuries suffered in a crash caused by a negligent or reckless driver. In addition to time spent in the discovery and trial phases of litigation, a party who is not satisfied with the trial court’s judgment may opt to appeal the matter to a higher court, causing a further delay.

Recently, a cable company and its driver appealed a $4 million jury verdict, which included a punitive damages award against the company.

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truck on overpass

Truck accidents hurt or kill thousands of motorists, passengers, and pedestrians each year. Sometimes, even truckers themselves perish in these accidents.

A recent case illustrates the challenges that arose when a deceased trucker’s family attempted to seek compensation for their loved one’s wrongful death in a lawsuit that claimed a particular braking system caused the trucker to lose control and plunge off an overpass.

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small courthouse

There are many different kinds of shopping – grocery shopping, back-to-school shopping – but there’s one kind of shopping of which you probably haven’t heard, unless you’re in the legal field. So-called “forum shopping” refers to a situation in which opposing parties in a lawsuit seek to have their dispute heard in a particular court because of a perceived advantage in that forum.

Of course, there are limitations to forum shopping. Usually, the dispute boils down to which of two or three possible courts should have jurisdiction. When multiple suits are filed in differing jurisdictions, it is up to the appellate court to make a final determination as to the court in which the matter will proceed.

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