traffic lightUsually, the defendant in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident case is the driver who was allegedly at fault in the crash. However, this is not always the case.

Sometimes, there are other parties – businesses, governmental entities, etc. – whose negligence may have caused or at least contributed to the cause of a particular accident. An example of such a situation was highlighted in a recent appellate court case.

Facts of the Case

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When someone is hurt due to the negligence of a trucker or trucking company, the burden is on the injured person to prove each element of his or her Texas truck accident case by a preponderance of the evidence. This includes proof of not only the defendant’s duty to the plaintiff and the breach thereof but also the plaintiff’s damages, such as medical expenses (past and future), pain and suffering, and lost income.

Usually, proving medical expenses and lost future earnings requires the testimony of an expert witness. Without this important testimony, the plaintiff’s case can be substantially undervalued.

Facts of the Case

mailboxIf you have been involved in a traffic accident, it may be tempting to take a “wait and see” approach. You may be thinking, “As long as I file my case by the statute of limitations, I’m good, right?” Not necessarily.

In some east Texas car accident cases, there are other considerations that effectively “move up” the filing deadline, and a delay can result in the dismissal of an otherwise valid claim. A recent federal case illustrates the point.

Facts of the Case

airbagMost people have heard the term “statute of limitations” and are aware that the plaintiff in an east Texas car accident case has only a certain amount of time in which to file a lawsuit against the responsible party.

The term “statute of repose” may be less familiar, but this law can further limit the time for filing a claim in certain situations, including a product liability action for injuries suffered in an automobile accident due to a defective or unreasonably dangerous vehicle.

A plaintiff who does not file a claim within both the statute of limitations and the statute of repose faces the dismissal of his or her case on procedural grounds.

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Just as drivers owe one another certain duties when it comes to operating an automobile, insurance companies have responsibilities to their insured to properly handle liability claims that are filed following an east Texas car accident.

A recent case illustrates the difficulties that can arise when an insurance company allegedly breaches its contractual obligation.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case decided by the Texas Court of Appeals, the plaintiff was a man who had been sued by a passenger who was riding with him in a company vehicle that was involved in a rollover accident. During the accident, the passenger was ejected from the vehicle. She was rendered a paraplegic as a result. In a separate lawsuit, the passenger sued the man and the company, seeking compensation for her injuries. The vehicle and all permissive users were covered under a commercial automobile policy issued by the defendant insurance company. Eventually, the passenger obtained a $10 million verdict against the man.

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First, the good news:  according to data maintained by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a nonprofit organization founded by the mother of a child who was killed by a drunk driver), the annual death toll from drunk driving crashes has been steadily declining over the past few decades. When the organization was founded in 1980, over 20,000 people per year were killed by drunk drivers, but now the number of annual fatalities is less than half of that number.

Now, the bad news:  a new menace, distracted driving, now claims between 3,000 and 4,000 lives annually across the nation and injures close to another 400,000 individuals.

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In civil lawsuits, there is typically a limitations period after which a plaintiff’s case will be dismissed regardless of its merits. For car accident cases in which the plaintiff seeks to recover monetary compensation for injuries or property damage suffered due to another party’s alleged negligence, the statute of limitations is generally two years in Texas.

There are a few, limited exceptions to this general rule, but such cases are few and far between. (This is one of the many reasons that it is so important to contact a knowledgeable accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash.)

In order for the plaintiff to qualify under an exception or to have his or her filing deadline effectually tolled on a certain ground, he or she has the burden of proving the grounds for the exception. Unfortunately, this can be extremely difficult.

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Under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.003(a), a person who sustains an injury due to the alleged negligence of another party must bring suit within two years of the day that the cause of action accrued (usually the day of the accident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries).

Although there are a few exceptions to this general rule, most personal injury claims that are not filed within two years of an accident will be dismissed on procedural grounds.

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trainIf every dispute arising under the law of negligence had to go all the way to a jury trial in order to be resolved, there would be a huge backlog in the courts. Those injured by others’ carelessness might have to wait many years for justice. The defendant also would have to live with a great deal of uncertainty, waiting on the outcome of the case.

This is one of the many reasons that settlements are highly favored as a way to end a legal dispute arising from an accident. A recent case explores some of the issues that a court may encounter in determining whether a particular agreement is binding on the parties.

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car accident sceneIf you or a family member has recently been involved in a motor vehicle accident in east Texas, you probably have a lot of questions, beginning with, “How long do I have to file a claim?”

Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. While there is a general statute of limitations for personal injury claims, there are many case-specific exceptions to the general rule. Thus, if you have been hurt in a wreck or lost a loved one in a fatal crash, it is imperative that you take swift action to protect your legal rights.

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