When a person is injured or killed during an automobile accident, the most obvious form of legal redress is a negligence action against the at-fault driver. However, an east Texas auto accident lawsuit may not be the only remedy in some cases – or it may not be a remedy at all.

Take, for example, the case of a person who is hurt or killed while on the job. In such a situation, the injured individual (or his or her family, if it is a fatal accident) may also opt to file a workers’ compensation claim. If a third party claim against a negligent motorist is ultimately successful, the workers’ compensation insurer may be entitled to subrogation for monies paid out, but, in the meantime, the family may receive disability or death benefits that would otherwise be unavailable.

A workers’ compensation claim might be the only option in some such cases, however, especially if the accident was a single vehicle accident or if the employee was clearly at fault in the wreck (and thus unable to bring a third-party claim against another driver). Continue Reading

A Texas car accident case is usually pursued under a legal theory known as “negligence.” To prove negligence, a plaintiff must establish four basic elements: duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation.

In the legal sense, a “duty” arises when one person has a responsibility to another to act in particular manner, usually established by law. For example, drivers are under a duty to keep a proper lookout for one another, so as to avoid an accident if possible. When someone fails in his or her duty, a “breach” is said to occur.

If harm comes to the person to whom the duty was owed, that person has “damages.” Damages include things like pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages caused by personal injury. If the victim’s damages were proximately caused by the defendant’s breach of duty, the defendant can be held liable for payment of monetary compensation to the plaintiff for his or her damages.

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Surely everyone knows by now that those who have been hurt in a Texas car accident or other vehicular wreck have only a limited time in which to file a lawsuit. Still, too many people put off talking to a lawyer about their case, making it more likely that their suit won’t get filed on time.

Granted, there are a few -a very few – situations in which the statute may be tolled, but a would-be plaintiff should never count on this. The best course of action is to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after an accident instead of putting off the important step of seeking legal advice about the case.

This not only allows for a timely filing of the necessary paperwork but also allows for a more thorough investigation of the accident itself, increasing the likelihood of a finding of liability against the negligent party when the case eventually goes to trial.

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It may come as a surprise that, during the trial of a Texas car accident case, the jury will most likely hear very little, if anything, about whether the defendant was insured at the time of the accident. The thought behind the rule generally prohibiting such evidence is that, if the jury knows that the defendant is insured, they will be more likely to find in the plaintiff’s favor.

However, there is an equally valid argument that, by being deprived of the knowledge that the defendant had insurance, they will instead think that any verdict they render will have to be paid directly by the defendant, thus causing them to find in the defendant’s favor. While not every utterance of the word “insurance” will result in a mistrial, it is highly likely that there will be an appeal if a mention is made and the jury subsequently awards a substantial verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who was injured in an multi-vehicle automobile accident. He filed suit against the defendant motorist, who allegedly set the collision in motion by proceeding through a “stale yellow or red” signal light. At trial, the defendant testified that “the light had turned yellow before the intersection,” forcing him to make a “split second decision whether to stop or go.” He further stated that he saw a truck coming from the left and hit his brakes, but the first impact of the multi-car accident occurred, nevertheless. Although the defendant insisted that he did not enter the intersection on a red light, his adult son told police officers at the scene that his father had, in fact, ran the red light.

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Most east Texas motor vehicle accident cases arise from a collision of some sort – typically, one vehicle striking another, as in a rear-collision or T-bone accident. Of course, there are other ways in which a person can be hurt by a vehicle.

For example, a recent appellate case involved a student who was injured by a fan on board a school bus. Just as with a collision-based car accident, one of the primary inquiries was likely to be whether the defendant acted negligently – that is, was there a breach of duty that proximately caused the injuries about which the plaintiff complained?

Given that the defendant was a governmental entity, however, another important question had to be addressed first: was the school district immune from suit under the provisions of the Texas Tort Claims Act, or had immunity been waived?

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The importance of retaining an attorney as soon as possible after being involved in an east Texas car or truck accident cannot be overstated. There are many deadlines that must be complied with, or else the injured party may forfeit his or her right to pursue fair and just compensation from the person whose negligence caused the collision.

Unfortunately, far too many people wait until the last minute to talk to a lawyer about their situation. When this happens, the chances of having a case dismissed due to an issue of timeliness greatly increases.

Part of the reason for this is that there is not just a single deadline that must be complied with. Depending upon the particulars of a given case, there may be multiple deadlines and filing requirements. Missing even one of these important deadlines can be fatal to an otherwise valuable claim for money damages.

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While each east Texas car accident case is unique, it is not unusual for a case to take several years to fully resolve.

This can be extremely frustrating on those involved, especially in situations in which liability appears clear but a negligent defendant refuses to admit that a crash was his or her fault.

A case recently reviewed by the state’s highest court addressed such a situation, ultimately deciding that it was wrong for a trial court to impose sanctions on a defendant who refused to admit that he was negligent until the day of trial, despite previously written requests from the plaintiff that he do so.

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In a Texas automobile accident case, the plaintiff has only a certain amount of time in which to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver whom he or she believes caused the accident at issue. The plaintiff must also take timely steps to see that this paperwork is served upon the defendant and not merely filed in the clerk’s office at the courthouse.

If this is not done, it is highly likely that the plaintiff’s case will be dismissed on procedural grounds due to his or her failure to comply with the statute of limitations.

While there are a few exceptions to this general rule, such cases are few and far between. Usually, failure to abide by the limitations period is fatal to what might otherwise have been a valuable cause of action against a negligent party, leaving the plaintiff with no monetary recovery despite the defendant’s fault in causing the accident.

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Getting started on an east Texas car accident case as soon as possible is very important. When a would-be litigant sits on his or her rights, he or she risks possible dismissal of what might otherwise be a valid and potentially valuable claim, if certain procedural hurdles are not met. While there are a few instances in which a lack of timeliness may be excused, these are few and far between, and the burden of proving that the delay was excusable falls on the plaintiff.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Tran v. Trejos, Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas, No. 14-17-00998-CV), the plaintiff was a man who sought monetary compensation for injuries he suffered in an automobile accident which he alleged was caused by the defendant driver’s negligence. The accident happened on August 27, 2015, and the plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed on January 31, 2017 – well within the two year statute of limitations for personal injury actions set forth in Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003. However, service of process was not perfected on the defendant until October 9, 2017, which was several weeks past the two-year limitations period.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint on the grounds that it was barred by the statute of limitations. The District Court of Harris County agreed and entered summary judgment for the defendant. The plaintiff appealed.

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Generally speaking, when a motorist causes an east Texas car accident while he or she is “on the clock,” the motorist’s employer may be named as a defendant in a resulting lawsuit and potentially held vicariously liable to the injured party for his or her medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages. This benefits the injured person because, usually, an employer has “deeper pockets” (higher liability insurance limits and/or assets that could be liquidated to satisfy a judgment) than the employee.

Sometimes, an employer may be held liable for a worker’s “off-the-clock” actions, but these cases are rare. It all comes down to the specific facts of the case.

The Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Texas Court of Appeals, Third District; No. 03-18-00252-CV), the plaintiff was a man who was injured in an automobile accident allegedly caused by the negligence of the defendant’s employee. At the time of the accident, the defendant’s employee had left work and was on his way home. However, a co-worker was riding with him, and the employee decided to stop by a future work site so that the he could show the co-worker the location of the site. According to the employee, he did not intend to get out of the vehicle or speak to anyone onsite. The accident happened as the employee was attempting to turn into the driveway of the future work site. Continue Reading