Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

Generally, people seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident will name the driver of one of the vehicles involved in the collision as a defendant. Other parties may be deemed liable as well, however, if the judge or jury finds that their actions contributed to the plaintiff’s harm. Recently, in Elephant Insurance Company, LLC v. Lorraine Kenyon (No. 20-0366), a case of first impression, the court addressed the issue of whether an automobile insurer could be deemed liable for a fatal collision that occurred while its insured was taking photographs of another crash per its directive. If you suffered losses due to a collision caused by someone else’s negligence, it is prudent to speak to a Texas car accident lawyer to determine what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the insured was involved in a single-car accident. The insured’s spouse arrived at the scene of the collision and, per the defendant automobile insurer’s instruction, began taking photographs of the car and roadway. While doing so, he was struck by another motorist and suffered fatal injuries. The insured filed a wrongful death and survival action against the motorist and against the defendant insurer. As to the defendant insurer, she alleged that its negligence caused the fatal crash. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that it owed no duty of care to the insured with respect to the collision. The trial court granted the defendant insurer’s motion, and the insured appealed.

An Insurer’s Liability for Collisions Under Texas Law

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling, finding that the defendant insurer did not breach any duty owed to the insured or her husband and, therefore, could not be held liable for the insured’s losses. Specifically, the appellate court explained that the defendant insurer’s duty of good faith and fair dealing did not require it to process the first collision without requesting that the insured take photographs or to issue a safety warning to the insured along with the request. Continue Reading

Typically, people believe that rear-end collisions are caused by the carelessness of the second driver. While that is frequently the case, the occurrence of a rear-end collision does not establish negligence as a matter of law; rather, the plaintiff must prove each element of negligence to recover damages. This was demonstrated in Roberts v. Staples (No. 06-21-00076-CV), a case in which the Court of Appeals of Texas, Texarkana, denied the plaintiff’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict after the trial court entered a take-nothing judgment against her. If you sustained injuries in a rear-end collision, it is advisable to meet with a Texas car accident lawyer to discuss your potential claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was stopped at a red light when the defendant rear-ended her. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he was negligent. The defendant admitted fault at trial, but the jury found that the defendant’s negligence if any, did not cause the collision. As such, the trial court entered a take-nothing judgment against the plaintiff. The plaintiff moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a new trial, arguing that the jury ruled against the weight of the evidence. The appellate court disagreed and affirmed the trial court judgments.

Establishing Liability Following a Rear-End Collision

In Texas, the elements of negligence are a legal duty, a breach of the duty, and damages that are proximately brought about by the breach. In the subject case, the trial court charged the jury with the definitions of ordinary care, negligence, and proximate cause. Thus, the appellate court was tasked with evaluating the evidence offered at trial in light of those definitions. Continue Reading

Vehicles owned by government units are not immune to collisions. Under Texas law, however, government units enjoy substantial protection from liability for harm that arises out of such collisions. While government units are not entirely immune to liability, an injured party must comply with the notice requirements established by the  Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, and if they do not, they may waive the right to recover damages. A recent ruling issued in Oswalt v. Hale County, No. 07-21-00050-CV, a car arising out of a collision with a county-owned vehicle, highlighted the dangers of failing to provide proper notice. If you were injured in an accident with a vehicle owned by a government entity, it is smart to speak to a trusted Texas car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff was driving a truck with a trailer attached on an access road to an interstate. A sheriff working for the defendant county drove his vehicle up to a stop sign at an intersection and then proceeded onto the access road, striking the plaintiff’s trailer. The plaintiff did not indicate that he was injured at the scene of the accident, but the trailer was damaged.

Reportedly, the plaintiff subsequently filed an action against the county seeking compensation for personal injury and property damage. The defendant filed a plea to the jurisdiction on the grounds that the plaintiff did not provide it with timely formal notice as required under the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA). The court granted the plea as to the personal injury claims but not as to the property damage claims. The parties both appealed. Continue Reading

Ride-sharing drivers are prevalent throughout Texas, and many people take an Uber or Lyft instead of driving. People who drive for ride-sharing companies are typically independent contractors rather than employees; as such, if they negligently cause collisions, the ride-sharing company will most likely not be deemed vicariously liable. In a recent case, Freyer v. Lyft, Inc., 05-20-00310-CV, a Texas court affirmed the independent contractor status of drivers who drive on behalf of ride-sharing companies, soundly rejecting the plaintiff’s attempt to impose liability on the company. If you were hurt in a collision caused by a ride-sharing driver, it is prudent to confer with a knowledgeable Texas car accident lawyer to discuss your rights.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff was riding as a passenger in a car operated by a driver working for the defendant ride-sharing company. Shortly after the ride began, the driver stated she did not feel well. She then fell in and out of consciousness and began to drive erratically, scraping the concrete barrier on the left side of the road. The car continued to roll, and the plaintiff opened the door to exit the vehicle. The driver then regained consciousness and accelerated, causing the plaintiff’s foot to be dragged along the road for two hundred feet. The plaintiff sustained permanent injuries, including the loss of her right big toe and part of her right foot.

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the driver and the ride-sharing company. She settled her claims against the driver. Her claims against the defendant ride-sharing company included negligent entrustment, negligent supervision, and respondeat superior arising out of an employee/employer relationship. The defendant ride-sharing company filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that it could not be deemed liable for the driver’s negligence, as she was an independent contractor, not an employee. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue Reading

Many employees are required to drive to and from certain locations as part of their job duties. If an employee subsequently causes a collision while driving for work purposes, both the employee and their employer may be deemed liable for any harm that ensues. Employers will only be held accountable for the negligent acts of their employees in certain circumstances; however, as discussed in Smith et. al. v. USI Industrial Services, Inc. (NUMBER 13-20-00004-CV). If you sustained injuries in a car accident caused by a person acting on behalf of their employer, it is in your best interest to speak to a skilled Texas car accident attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Subject Collision

It is reported that the defendant employed two boilermakers and directed them to travel to and from Borger and Rio Grande Valley for the job. In mid-April of 2016, the defendant dismissed them from its employ due to a reduction in force. Two days later, they began their trip home. During the trip, the boilermaker who was driving lost control of his truck and collided with a car driven by the decedent.

Allegedly, both the decedent and the boilermaker who was driving died in the accident. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit seeking damages for the decedent’s death and ultimately asserted non-employee mission liability and respondeat superior claims against the defendant. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing the boilermakers were not acting in the scope of their employment at the time of the crash. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue Reading

It is not uncommon for people to lend their cars to other drivers. If a person borrowing a vehicle causes an accident, though, the owner of the car may be found liable for negligent entrustment. A plaintiff must prove each element of negligent entrustment to recover damages, including the defendant’s ownership of the vehicle in question, and if they do not, the claim will fail. As discussed in a recent Texas case,  Sauceda v. Quality Motors (No. 10-19-00422-CV), however, the person named on the certificate of title of a vehicle is not always the owner. If you were hurt in a collision caused by a person driving a borrowed car, it is advisable to speak with a skilled Texas car accident attorney to assess what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the defendant driver signed a contract with the defendant dealership that allowed her to take possession of the subject car. The contract stated, in part, that she could not sell the vehicle or leave it in someone else’s care without the defendant dealership’s express permission. It also included provisions regarding installment payments.

It is alleged that a month later, the defendant driver was involved in a head-on collision with the plaintiff. The plaintiff suffered critical injuries in the crash and subsequently filed a lawsuit asserting a negligence claim against the defendant driver and a negligent entrustment claim against the defendant dealership. The defendant dealership moved for summary judgment, and the court granted the motion, after which the plaintiff appealed. Continue Reading

Some jobs require people to travel on a regular basis, and it is not uncommon for a person who is driving to a location for work purposes to cause a collision. People hurt by parties traveling for work purposes will often allege that the parties’ employers should be held vicariously liable for the harm they cause. In Texas, employers will only be deemed responsible for harm caused by their employees in limited circumstances, though, as discussed in an opinion recently issued by a Texas court in Rios Pina v. Sun Loans, Inc. (No. 04-20-00336-CV). If you sustained injuries in a collision caused by a negligent driver, you should confer with a knowledgeable Texas car accident attorney to evaluate what compensation you may be owed.

The Subject Accident

Reportedly, the plaintiff suffered injuries in an accident in which a car driven by the defendant’s employee collided with her vehicle. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the driver and the defendant, asserting numerous claims, including vicarious liability. The plaintiff settled her claims against the driver, and the defendant moved for summary judgment on the remaining claims. With regard to the vicarious liability claim, the defendant argued it the driver was not operating within the scope and course of her employment at the time of the accident, and as such, the plaintiff’s claim failed. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Establishing Vicarious Liability Under Texas Law

Under Texas law, an employer may be found vicariously liable for the negligent acts of its employee under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Pursuant to the doctrine, liability requires proof of tortious behavior by a tortfeasor, an agency relationship between the employer and the tortfeasor, and the commission of a tortious act while the tortfeasor was in the scope and course of the employer’s authority. Continue Reading

In cases arising out of car accidents, juries are typically tasked with determining not only liability but also damages. To support their claims and defenses, parties will often employ experts to testify on certain issues like what medical treatment and costs were reasonable and necessary. Thus, if a trial court issues an order precluding an expert from testifying, it may greatly impair a party’s case. Recently, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a ruling in In re Alexander Guevara and Jose Alfredo Guevara (05-19-01049-CV), describing the recourse available for a party who has been denied the right to present expert testimony. If you were hurt in a collision, it is advisable to speak to a skillful Texas car accident attorney about your potential claims.

History of the Case

It is reported that the parties were involved in a collision in which the plaintiff suffered bodily harm. Following the accident, the plaintiff sought treatment for his injuries. He subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant driver asserting negligence claims. Prior to trial, the plaintiff submitted an expert affidavit averring that his medical care was necessary and the cost of his care was reasonable. The defendant filed counter-affidavits challenging the necessity and reasonableness of the plaintiff’s medical expenses as set forth in his expert affidavits.

Allegedly, the plaintiff moved to strike the defendant’s expert affidavits and preclude his expert, a chiropractor, from testifying, arguing the expert was not qualified and that his opinions were not based on a reliable foundation and were conclusory. The trial court granted the motion. The defendant then petitioned the Supreme Court of Texas, seeking review of the trial court’s order striking the affidavit. Continue Reading

In an east Texas car accident trial, the jury is given a set of instructions by which it is to decide the issues of the case. While some of the instructions are considered “boilerplate” and used in many cases, the particular facts of a certain accident may result in a more unique instruction tailored especially for that case.

Such an instruction can be subject to appellate review, as can other decisions made by a trial court during the litigation and trial of a vehicular accident claim. Of course, the trial court is afforded a certain amount of leeway, such that not every error will result in a reversal of the outcome of the matter on appeal.

However, if the trial court is found to have abused the relatively broad discretion granted it with regard to matters such as instructions to a jury – or questions submitted for the jury’s consideration – a reversal is quite possible. In such a situation, it is likely that a retrial will be necessary unless, of course, the parties manage to settle their dispute based on the appellate tribunal’s ruling.

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In an east Texas car accident case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident in which the plaintiff was injured. If the plaintiff does not meet his or her burden of proving negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, he or she will not be entitled to recover money damages.

Sometimes, certain aspects of a case may be adjudicated prior to a jury trial. For instance, if there is not a genuine issue of material fact regarding which party’s failure to meet the applicable standard of care caused the crash, summary judgment may be granted as to the issue of liability.

However, the granting of such a motion is subject to appellate review, if the defendant choses to pursue an appeal. If the appeals court disagrees with the result reached by the trial court, the matter may be reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

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