Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

roadway at sunsetIn an east Texas car accident lawsuit, a jury has three options:  find that the defendant was totally at fault, decide that the plaintiff alone caused the accident, or determine that the parties shared in the blame for the accident.

When both the plaintiff and the defendant are found to have contributed to a crash, the plaintiff can only recover compensation if he or she is less than 50% at fault. In such cases, the plaintiff recovers damages in proportion to the defendant’s fault. Recently, a jury in a truck/motorcycle crash found that the plaintiff had suffered damages of $7 million, but, since the plaintiff himself was 75% at fault in the wreck, he received nothing.

Facts of the Case

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Many states, including Texas, have so-called “Dram Shop Act” laws that can be used to hold a business (or sometimes even a private host) liable for serving alcoholic beverages to someone who is obviously intoxicated.

Texas’ version of this law is codified at Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 2.02. Under this statute, a person seeking to recover compensation on a Dram Shop claim must prove that the person to whom the alcoholic beverages were served was “obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others.” The claimant must also prove that the intoxication of the person who was over-served was the proximate cause of the damages he or she suffered.

Typically, the plaintiff in an east Texas car accident case filed under the Dram Shop Act is a person who is a victim of a drunk driving accident. A recent case presented an exception to this general rule.

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woman's shouldersIn an East Texas personal injury case arising from a motor vehicle accident, there are sometimes multiple witnesses who testify at trial regarding how the accident happened and the effects that it had on the plaintiff’s physical health and well-being.

These witnesses may include not only the plaintiff and the defendant but also sometimes experts such as medical providers and even accident reconstructionists. When there is a conflict in this evidence, it is up to the jury to determine the relative credibility of the witnesses. (However, one or both parties may contest the trial court’s admissibility of certain testimony on appeal.)

Facts of the Case

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

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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cellular telephone

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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interstate traffic

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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pickup truck

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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