Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

Not all motor vehicle accidents happen on a street or highway. Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents can happen in parking lots, on other private property, and even on racetracks. Just as in other negligence cases, the burden in a Texas car accident case is on the plaintiff to show that the defendant breached a duty of care and that his or her injuries were the proximate result of this breach of duty. The defendant, in turn, may offer up one of more affirmative defenses aimed at preventing the plaintiff from prevailing at trial and/or to reduce any compensation ultimately awarded to the plaintiff in the case. A case of this nature was recently heard by the Texas Appellate Court, which ultimately found that a lower court had made a mistake in dismissing all of the driver’s claims against an allegedly negligence racetrack owner.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was a driver who was seriously injured when he lost control of his vehicle while participating in activities at a drag strip. His vehicle struck a retaining wall, catching fire and causing him permanent and severe injuries. According to the plaintiff, the accident happened because the defendant drag strip owner had been negligent in not effectively cleaning up fluids spilled in an earlier accident, thus causing the track to be dangerously slick. The plaintiff suffered both orthopedic injuries and severe burns in the crash.

In response to the plaintiff’s claims that it was negligence and grossly negligent in failing to adequately clean the unsafe track conditions, provide appropriate fire-fighting equipment, provide appropriate medical personnel and equipment, and provide an adequately-designed safety retaining wall, the defendant filed a combined no-evidence and traditional summary judgment motion. The district court found in the defendant’s favor as to the combined motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Continue Reading

Proving negligence in a car accident case requires several elements of proof. In addition to providing evidence regarding the duty of care owed by the defendant(s) to the plaintiff(s) and the defendant’s alleged breach of that duty, the plaintiff must also provide competent evidence of any physical injuries for which he or she seeks compensation. However, simply proving that the plaintiff suffered from a particular medical condition after the accident at issue is not, in and of itself, sufficient. Rather, the plaintiff must show that the injuries complained of by the plaintiff were proximately caused by the accident. Oftentimes, this requires the opinion of a medical expert witness – typically, a doctor – who has examined the plaintiff’s injuries, diagnosed his or her medical condition and future prognosis, and made a determination as to whether these injuries and conditions are causally linked to the accident.

Facts of the Case

A recent appellate case involved a multi-car accident in east Texas. The plaintiffs in the case were the driver and occupants of a car that was traveling along the interstate when the car behind them was struck by the defendant’s car. According to the defendant, the accident occurred when the vehicle in front of her “jolted into traffic” as it was entering the interstate, and this did not leave the defendant with enough time to stop before hitting the rear right side of the car that was traveling behind the plaintiffs’ car. After the initial collision, the defendant’s vehicle reportedly ricocheted into the back of the plaintiffs’ automobile. Although the defendant’s vehicle was totaled in the collision and the middle vehicle was substantially damaged, there was only minimal damage to the plaintiffs’ car. No airbags deployed in any of the vehicles that were involved in the wreck.

The case was tried to a judge in Harris County District Court, a jury trial having been waived by the parties. After hearing the testimony of the parties, the trial court judge awarded the plaintiffs past medical expenses of $145,460. The defendant filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court judge denied. She appealed.

Continue Reading

Maintaining a cause of action against a governmental entity whose negligence led to a traffic accident can be difficult. Unlike other, private defendants, the State and the entities within it are entitled to certain protections that can make it harder for an injured person or deceased person’s family to prevail in a negligence lawsuit.

This is not to say, however, that such a suit cannot be won. Recently, a Texas jury returned a favorable verdict against a governmental entity whose alleged negligence resulted in the death of two people in a Texas car accident along a stretch of road in which several serious accidents had previously occurred. However, since the defendant was a governmental entity, the trial court was forced to reduce the award of damages to the accident victims and families. This is because Texas law places a cap on the amount of money damages that a governmental entity must pay when a court makes a finding of negligence against it.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were individuals who had been hurt or lost family members in a 2016 motor vehicle accident that occurred in Travis County, Texas. At the time of the crash, the driver and four passengers were allegedly traveling along a two-mile stretch of road in which some 117 crashes had occurred between 2010 and 2016. The driver’s truck hydroplaned and the crash, killing two of the passengers and injuring the driver and remaining passengers. The plaintiffs brought suit against the defendant state department of transportation, alleging that the road condition was “so worn and slick” that it posed an unreasonable risk of harm. The plaintiffs further alleged that the defendant had actual knowledge of the highways dangerous condition insomuch as there had been at least four fatalities in the immediate vicinity of the crash in recent years and that the defendant had, in spite of this knowledge, failed to use ordinary care to make the premises safe.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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?

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading