heavy fogAn east Texas car, truck, or motorcycle accident can happen any time of the night or day and under many different types of weather conditions. However, some kinds of weather tend to make an accident more likely. Snow, ice, rain, sleet, and fog can all interfere with a driver’s ability to control his or her vehicle and interact safely with those in other vehicles. When an accident does occur under such conditions, it is the job of the jury to determine which driver was at fault.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recently decided case (Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas; No. 01-17-00509-CV) was the representative of the estate of a man who died in a motor vehicle accident in late January 2014. The plaintiff’s suit alleged both negligence and gross negligence against the defendants, the driver and owner of the 18-wheeler with which the motorcycle of the plaintiff’s decedent collided. Several witnesses testified, offering conflicting testimony as to who was to blame for the crash. The one thing that everyone agreed upon was that there was a heavy fog on the morning of the accident, limiting visibility. Continue Reading

immigrationImmigration is a hot-button issue these days. From the feasibility of building a wall to the propriety of separating parents and children at the border, it seems there is a story in the news pertaining to immigration nearly every day.

The subject of immigration can even arise in an east Texas car or truck accident case, causing complications and, sometimes, the need for a new trial when potentially prejudicial information is presented to the jury.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the Thirteenth District; No. 13-17-00006-CV), the plaintiff was a woman who filed suit against the defendants, a truck driver and a trucking company, seeking compensation for injuries the plaintiff allegedly suffered in a 2013 motor vehicle accident. According to the plaintiff, the accident was caused by the negligence of the truck driver, who made an unsafe lane change and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle as the two were traveling along I-10. At trial, both the plaintiff and the truck driver testified with the aid of an interpreter. Continue Reading

Dallas, Texas
The litigation process in an east Texas car accident case is sometimes long and arduous. If a case goes all the way to trial, one or both parties may appeal the trial court’s judgment, asking the court of appeals to correct an error or grant a new trial. Sometimes, a party will attempt to circumvent the usual appellate process by filing what is known in the law as a request for a “writ of mandamus.” In essence, this is a plea to an appellate court to correct an alleged wrong made by a trial court before the usual judicial process has been completed.

Facts of the Case

A recent case decided by the Court of Appeals for the Twelfth District of Texas involved a dispute between a woman who was involved in a car accident with an uninsured motorist and her underinsured motorist (UM) insurance carrier. In the trial court, the plaintiff filed suit against both the uninsured motorist (asserting a claim of negligence) and the UM carrier (claiming breach of contract, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, and civil conspiracy and asking for certification of a class and a declaratory judgment).

hospital roomWhen someone brings a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries suffered in an east Texas automobile accident, he or she may ask for reimbursement for past medical expenses, along with compensation for medical costs that may reasonably be expected to be incurred in the future. However, even in cases in which liability is clear, disputes may arise regarding the amount of money to which the plaintiff is entitled for his or her medical expenses, especially if the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the accident and is not joined in the lawsuit by his or her parents.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas; No. 01-16-00463-CV), the plaintiff was a young man who sought to recover compensation for injuries he suffered in a car accident that occurred when he was still a minor. The trial court directed a verdict on the plaintiff’s claim for past medical expenses, ruling that the defendant driver could not be held liable for the medical expenses incurred while the plaintiff was still a minor.

tireIn most east Texas car accident cases, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, each of the four distinct elements of negligence:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Occasionally, however, a case arises in which a legal doctrine known as res ipsa loquitur applies.

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase that means “the thing speaks for itself.” In the context of a negligence lawsuit, a res ipsa loquitur instruction allows the jury to infer negligence from the circumstances of the accident, thereby effectively lowering the burden of proof for the plaintiff.

Facts of the Case

microcar

A successful Texas car accident case has many components:  proof of liability of the negligent driver, credible evidence of the plaintiff’s physical injuries and other damages, and enough insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiff for his or her losses.

Unfortunately, the “insurance coverage” issue can be problematic. If the defendant does not have insurance, or in a case in which the defendant’s identity is not known (as in the case of a hit-and-run driver), the plaintiff may have to rely upon his or her own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Thus, it is important that an insurance policy be purchased at the appropriate time.

As is illustrated in the case below (concerning lack of coverage for a new car that was vandalized during an attempted theft), disputes can arise concerning coverage, and failing to obtain adequate coverage in a timely fashion can be a very costly mistake.

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schedulingUnder Texas law (Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 169, to be exact), there is an “expedited actions process” through which parties to certain civil litigation may ask the court to fast-track their claims. East Texas car accident cases in which $100,000 or less is sought in damages are among the types of cases in which the fast-track route may be sought.

When a case is fast-tracked, the trial court puts limits on things like discovery, continuances, challenges to experts, and the time that the parties have for their presentation of evidence and arguments at trial. On a showing of good cause, a case that would otherwise be qualified for expedited action can be removed from the process by the trial court.

Facts of the Case

road
We have said it before, and we will probably say it again. When it comes to litigation related to an east Texas automobile accident, time is of the essence. This means that a person who is hurt in a car crash should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible so that a prompt investigation can be made and all filing deadlines can be met.

Timeliness is also very important when a case is “over” – that is, when the judge has entered an order adjudicating the parties’ respective rights in the case. While both sides to a judgment have a right to ask an appellate court to review the matter, this can only happen if a timely notice of appeal is filed.

Facts of the Case

small carWhen an East Texas car accident involves multiple vehicles, as most do, it is typical for a person who is injured in one car to name the driver of the other automobile as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation.

The defendant may disagree with this and claim that the other driver was at fault. If it is the driver himself who filed the lawsuit, this is typically done in the form of an answer and counter-complaint. If the plaintiff is, instead, a passenger, the defendant may still name the other driver as a responsible third party, but the process of doing so is more complicated.

Facts of the Case

oil wells
An issue that sometimes comes up in an east Texas car accident case is whether or not a certain business or company is vicariously liable for a crash caused by someone who worked for that business or company.

The resolution of this issue can greatly affect the amount of monetary compensation received by the plaintiff in the case, since businesses and corporations typically have much higher liability insurance limits (or other resources that can be attached and liquidated by the injured party if he or she is successful at trial) than do private individuals.

Facts of the Case