Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

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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Each car accident case in Texas must stand on its own merits. The specific facts – as well as the particular parties – that are part of a given accident will inform the ultimate outcome of the case.

The more parties and claims that arise from a particular collision, the more complex the litigation is likely to be. Even in a simple crash involving only two individuals, it is wise to consult an attorney before speaking to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Speaking with counsel is even more important when multiple parties and/or multiple claims are involved. An experienced east Texas car accident attorney can help protect the victim’s legal rights as the case moves forward through the court system.

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Big rigs, semis, and 18-wheelers can cause devastating personal injuries and even wrongful death in a truck accident. It only takes a few seconds for a trucker’s inattention or negligent conduct to cause a crash that can forever devastate those who are in his or her path.

Fortunately, truckers and the trucking outfits that employ them usually have sizable liability insurance limits, such that the plaintiff’s medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages can be taken care of. Of course, just because such coverage exists does not automatically mean that the insurance company will be willing to pay out even a dime without a fight.

An experienced east Texas truck accident litigation attorney can help the accident victim and his or her family understand their legal rights and help them fight for what is right. It is important that those who have been hurt by a careless or reckless truck driver speak to counsel as soon as possible after an accident; you can bet the insurance company will have someone on the scene within a short time, but that person (or, more likely, that team of professionals) will only be looking out for the insurance company’s bottom line, not for what’s right for the injured person.

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If you have been hurt or lost a family member in an east Texas car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you have the right to file a lawsuit seeking fair compensation. If you are unable to reach a settlement with the opposing party, your case may be tried by a jury, who will determine who was at fault and the amount of money damages to which you are entitled.

There are many rules of civil procedure that govern trial practice in Texas. An experienced trial lawyer can explain how those procedural rules may affect your case, should it proceed to trial.

Keep in mind that, although the majority of cases do settle prior to trial, it is important to assume that your case will be fully litigated – all the way to trial and maybe even through the appellate process – and prepare accordingly. Insurance companies can tell when an injured party isn’t prepared to go to trial, and they base their offer accordingly.

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Fully recovering from a serious car accident in East Texas or elsewhere can require the assistance of multiple professionals. Obviously, receiving proper medical attention should be first and foremost in an accident victim’s mind. However, there are other concerns that are likely to arise along the way.

How will the medical expenses get paid? What if the wreck leaves the accident victim unable to work either temporarily or indefinitely? What is the process for filing a claim against the responsible party?

To get answers to these and other important questions, it is important that someone who has been hurt in such a crash talk to an East Texas car accident attorney experienced in such matters as soon as possible. Issues such as vicarious liability (which can occur when someone causes an accident while they are on the job) can complicate what might otherwise seem like a straightforward case, so it is important that the person hurt in the collision have assertive legal representation as the case develops.

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When a Texas car accident lawsuit is tried to a jury, it is highly likely that one party or the other will be dissatisfied with the verdict. When this happens, one side or the other (or sometimes both) may seek a new trial.

While new trials are sometimes granted, this is the exception rather than the rule. In the event that the court does order a second trial, the party favored by the original verdict may seek review from a higher court.

Such was the scenario leading up to a recent appellate court case arising from an uninsured motorist claim against an insurance company. The jury ruled in the plaintiff’s favor but did not award the full damages sought by the plaintiff. The insurance company apparently feared an even higher verdict if the case was retried – so it sought mandamus relief from the court of appeals.

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