Case Involving Vehicle Accident Should Have Been Appealed Earlier, Says Texas Appeals Court

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

In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the Ninth District of Texas; No.¬†09-16-00437-CV), the plaintiff was a man who was injured in a collision while driving a truck for his employer in 2006. He filed a workers’ compensation claim against the defendant, his employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. After several years of litigation, the trial court signed a summary judgment order in the plaintiff’s favor, adjudicating his claim for supplemental income benefits. Although this claim was the only remaining issue in the case at the time the order was signed, the order did not contain any language providing that the order was intended to be final or “Mother Hubbard” language indicating that all relief not expressly granted was denied.

Less than 30 days later, the plaintiff asked for clarification of the amount he was owed in prejudgment interest. More than 30 days after that, the plaintiff filed a second motion, asking that his compensation be increased. Several months thereafter, the trial court entered an order granting additional monies to the plaintiff, and the defendant appealed. When the court of appeals realized that the earlier order disposed of the plaintiff’s last live claim, it directed the parties to address the issue of whether the trial court still had plenary power over the case when it signed the latter order.

Decision of the Court

On appeal, the court noted that, despite the fact the trial court did not include any express language to indicate that its early summary judgment order was final, both of the parties agreed that the order was both final and appealable. Taking this into consideration, the court of appeals then held that the latter order was void and should be vacated. Since no timely notice of appeal was filed from the earlier order, the court dismissed the defendant’s appeal from that order.

Experienced East Texas Car Accident Attorney 

If you have been involved in a car accident anywhere in east Texas, Earl Drott Law is here to help. We have over 34 years of experience handling car accident and other personal injury and wrongful death cases. For a free case review, call us at 903-531-9300. You will only owe us a legal fee after we have recovered monetary compensation on your behalf.

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