Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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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In an east Texas car accident case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving not only that the defendant was negligent and caused the accident but also that there was a link of proximate causation between the defendant’s breach of the duty of care and the damages for which the plaintiff seeks compensation. This can be a difficult task in some cases.

The attorneys who are hired by the insurance companies of careless drivers are quick to point out any flaws or weaknesses in the plaintiff’s case, as their ultimate goal is to pay out as little as possible on each claim. They can sometimes be particularly effective at discounting the testimony of expert witnesses whom they believe are unqualified to render an opinion about the nature and/or extent of the plaintiff’s injuries and associated medical costs.

Facts of the Case

In a car crash lawsuit recently considered on appeal, the plaintiff was a motorist who was rear-ended by the defendant driver while stopped at a red light. At the time of the collision, the parties agreed that it was a minor accident and that it was not necessary to call the police. A few days after the accident, the plaintiff begin to experience pain in his lower back, hip, and wrist. The plaintiff later sought medical care, which included chiropractic care, an MRI (which showed two disk protrusions or herniations), physical therapy, and steroid injections.

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Most east Texas car accidents settle prior to an actual jury trial. When this happens, it is vitally important that all concerned parties fully understand the nature and extent of the agreement.

Unfortunately, there can sometimes be misunderstandings between the parties concerning the settlement agreement. This can potentially result in additional litigation, including a request for a court to interpret the agreement if a dispute arises.

Facts of the Case

In a recent car accident case considered on appeal, the plaintiff was a mother who sought to assert a claim for herself and her minor child following an automobile accident allegedly caused by the negligence of the defendant motorist. The defendant asserted an affirmative defense wherein he relied on a release and indemnity agreement that had allegedly been signed by the plaintiff and her husband a year earlier. Under the terms of the release, the defendant paid $6500 to the plaintiff’s husband, who was also involved in the accident along with the plaintiff and their minor child. As the litigation progressed, the defendant served requests for admissions on the plaintiff, but she did not answer them.

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In some east Texas truck accident cases, liability is clear. Everyone agrees who was at fault, but a trial may still be necessary because of a disagreement about the amount of money that it will take to fully compensate the plaintiff for the injuries caused by the defendant’s negligence.

In other cases, however, both liability and damages are contested, and the jury must decide both who was at fault and the amount of money due the “innocent” (or less at-fault, as the case may be) driver. Of course, the jury must follow certain rules and instructions in so doing, and it is not unusual for the losing side to file an appeal, arguing that the trial court gave erroneous instructions or that the jury misapplied the directions given by the judge.

Once the case reaches the appellate court level, the reviewing court has a few choices. It can reverse the lower court’s decision and send the case back for a retrial; it can opine that, although some error may have occurred, it did not ultimately affect the outcome of the proceedings; or it can determine that there were no errors made by the lower court.

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In an east Texas car accident lawsuit, the plaintiff has the burden of proving his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that he or she must provide enough legally admissible evidence to sway the jury in his or her favor. Simply asserting that he or she was in the right is not likely to carry the day, as the jury will most likely hear a similar assertion from the defendant, who will also claim, “It wasn’t my fault!”

Rather, the prevailing party should have other evidence, such as photographs from the accident scene, the testimony of disinterested witnesses, and (sometimes) an expert’s opinion as to the cause of the crash. Such proof is much more likely to carry the day than the word of the plaintiff (or defendant) alone.

It is important to note, however, that there are rules that govern both the gathering of evidence prior to trial and the admission of evidence during trial. The trial court judge has some discretion when it comes to enforcing these rules, and the appellate court may occasionally weigh in on the matter as well, via the appellate process.

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In most east Texas car accident cases, the fact that one party ran a red light and caused a collision is fairly convincing evidence that the defendant was negligent and should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. After all, the duty to stop at a red light is one of the basic rules of the road.

However, there are a few, very limited circumstances in which this factual scenario might not play out in the plaintiff’s favor. An example of a possible exception to the general rule might be when the allegedly negligent motorist was a public employee who was on the job at the time of the wreck – if certain conditions were present.

Of course, the simple fact that the defendant was a public employee does not in and of itself end the inquiry into whether the plaintiff will prevail in his or her negligence lawsuit. There are multiple factors that must be taken into consideration in determining whether the defendant is entitled to certain immunity protections under the facts presented.

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