scales of justice

When one person’s negligence causes injuries to another person, the injured person has a legal right to seek compensation from the responsible party for his or her damages. In a typical automobile accident lawsuit, the plaintiff’s damages will include things like medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the plaintiff’s injuries are of a permanent nature, he or she may ask for compensation for both past and future damages.

If the plaintiff is married, his or her spouse may seek loss of consortium damages, and the plaintiff may ask for punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct went above and beyond mere negligence into behavior that could be considered reckless or wanton and willful.

Most injury cases are tried to a jury, and the jury decides the damages that are due to the plaintiff. Sometimes, however, the parties agree to waive the right to a jury, and the trial court judge hears the case and decides the issues.

Continue Reading

white police cruiserGenerally, a person who is hurt by another person’s negligence is entitled to recover money damages if he or she can prove that the defendant owed a duty of care, that the defendant breached the duty owed to the plaintiff, and that the plaintiff suffered damages as a legal and proximate result of that breach of duty.

However, when the allegedly negligent person was working for a governmental entity at the time of the accident, the matter is more complicated. This is because, in Texas, governmental units are immune from both suit and liability unless immunity has been waived.

One situation in which immunity is specifically not waived is when a governmental employee is responding to an emergency call in an authorized emergency vehicle, such as a police cruiser. Even then, there are sometimes exceptions to the general rule, but it is often difficult for a plaintiff to get past the presumption of immunity in a particular case.

Continue Reading

police cruiserAt common law, the doctrine of sovereign immunity served to protect the king from suit. After all, it was reasoned, “the king could do no wrong.”

Unfortunately for those injured by modern-day governments, the doctrine of sovereign immunity is still alive and well in the United States, even though our country has not been under the ostensible power of a king for centuries.

Of course, there are some limitations to the doctrine and many instances in which the government can be held liable. If the parties cannot agree on the issue, it is up to the courts to decide cases in which the doctrine could potentially apply on a case-by-case basis.

Continue Reading

tractor trailersIn lawsuits involving tractor-trailer accidents, it is often to the plaintiff’s advantage to name as many potential defendants as possible, including the owner of the truck and the truck driver’s employer, if they are different entities. This is because the doctrine of vicarious liability can serve to hold not only a negligent driver but also his or her employer legally liable for damages resulting from the driver’s breach of the duty of care.

Of course, disputes can and often do arise concerning whether or not a given trucking outfit is a statutory employer under state and federal law.

Continue Reading

pouring beer

There’s an expression to the effect that a particular person “doesn’t have a dog in that fight,” meaning that it would be wrong for that person to try to interject his or her opinions into the matter. Of course, this basic principle goes far beyond the familiar phrase.

Recently, a Texas appeals court was called upon to decide whether restaurant owners who were the defendants in a separate dram shop action were entitled to intervene in the settlement approval of a lawsuit filed on behalf of a minor against a drunk driver, whom the restaurant allegedly served after it was obvious that he was a danger to himself and others.

When all was said and done, the appellate court ruled – at least in essence – that the restaurant owners “didn’t have a dog in that particular fight.”

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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?

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading