Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

State law places an outer limit upon the time that victims of an east Texas car accident may assert their rights in a court of law. Referred to in legal parlance as the “statute of limitations,” this time period is absolute in most cases.

While there are a few, limited exceptions, the vast majority of cases filed outside of the applicable statute of limitations are dismissed by the courts. In such cases, the plaintiff receives nothing, even if he or she would otherwise have been entitled to substantial monetary compensation.

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided case, the plaintiff was a woman who was allegedly involved in a “hit and run” motor vehicle accident caused by an uninsured motorist in January 2013. Displeased with the way her claim was handled, she filed a lawsuit against the defendant insurance company, with which she had collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage. In her first suit, which was filed in March 2013, the plaintiff sought declaratory relief regarding her UM coverage and averred that the defendant had breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing. In 2015, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed her suit. Continue Reading

Even in situations in which liability for an east Texas car accident is clear, there are several factors which can potentially jeopardize the plaintiff’s case. For example, if a plaintiff has pre-existing medical conditions, this can be a factor considered by the jury in determining whether the physical problems about which the plaintiff complains were truly caused by, or at least aggravated by, the crash.

If the jury is of the opinion that the defendant is not to blame for the plaintiff’s current physical condition, the plaintiff will not be able to recovery money damages, even if the defendant admits to being at fault in the wreck.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas; No. 02-18-00121-CV), the plaintiff was a woman whose car was rear-ended by the defendant motorist as the plaintiff was traveling in heavy traffic on the interstate. The plaintiff sued the defendant motorist, as well as the plaintiff’s own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance carrier, seeking monetary compensation for past and future medical-care expenses, impairment, pain, and mental anguish. Continue Reading

In most east Texas car accident cases, there are several issues that must be decided – either at trial or through an agreement between the parties. These include fault, damages for personal injury or wrongful death, and/or compensation to the plaintiff for damage to his or her automobile.

Sometimes, some of these issues are settled prior to trial, with only a single issue being considered by the jury. Such was the case with regard to a 2014 accident in which fault was admitted but the parties were unable to agree on a particular issue.

Facts of the Case

In a case (Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas; No. 01-17-00826-CV) recently considered by a Texas appellate court, the parties agreed that the defendant motorist had caused a motor vehicle accident in Harris County, Texas. All issues other than the diminution in value of the plaintiff’s automobile due to the collision caused by the defendant were settled prior to trial. Continue Reading

The litigation process in an east Texas car accident case is sometimes long and arduous. If a case goes all the way to trial, one or both parties may appeal the trial court’s judgment, asking the court of appeals to correct an error or grant a new trial. Sometimes, a party will attempt to circumvent the usual appellate process by filing what is known in the law as a request for a “writ of mandamus.” In essence, this is a plea to an appellate court to correct an alleged wrong made by a trial court before the usual judicial process has been completed.

Facts of the Case

A recent case decided by the Court of Appeals for the Twelfth District of Texas involved a dispute between a woman who was involved in a car accident with an uninsured motorist and her underinsured motorist (UM) insurance carrier. In the trial court, the plaintiff filed suit against both the uninsured motorist (asserting a claim of negligence) and the UM carrier (claiming breach of contract, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, and civil conspiracy and asking for certification of a class and a declaratory judgment).

When someone brings a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries suffered in an east Texas automobile accident, he or she may ask for reimbursement for past medical expenses, along with compensation for medical costs that may reasonably be expected to be incurred in the future. However, even in cases in which liability is clear, disputes may arise regarding the amount of money to which the plaintiff is entitled for his or her medical expenses, especially if the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the accident and is not joined in the lawsuit by his or her parents.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas; No. 01-16-00463-CV), the plaintiff was a young man who sought to recover compensation for injuries he suffered in a car accident that occurred when he was still a minor. The trial court directed a verdict on the plaintiff’s claim for past medical expenses, ruling that the defendant driver could not be held liable for the medical expenses incurred while the plaintiff was still a minor.

In most east Texas car accident cases, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, each of the four distinct elements of negligence:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Occasionally, however, a case arises in which a legal doctrine known as res ipsa loquitur applies.

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase that means “the thing speaks for itself.” In the context of a negligence lawsuit, a res ipsa loquitur instruction allows the jury to infer negligence from the circumstances of the accident, thereby effectively lowering the burden of proof for the plaintiff.

Facts of the Case

A successful Texas car accident case has many components:  proof of liability of the negligent driver, credible evidence of the plaintiff’s physical injuries and other damages, and enough insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiff for his or her losses.

Unfortunately, the “insurance coverage” issue can be problematic. If the defendant does not have insurance, or in a case in which the defendant’s identity is not known (as in the case of a hit-and-run driver), the plaintiff may have to rely upon his or her own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Thus, it is important that an insurance policy be purchased at the appropriate time.

As is illustrated in the case below (concerning lack of coverage for a new car that was vandalized during an attempted theft), disputes can arise concerning coverage, and failing to obtain adequate coverage in a timely fashion can be a very costly mistake.

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Under Texas law (Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 169, to be exact), there is an “expedited actions process” through which parties to certain civil litigation may ask the court to fast-track their claims. East Texas car accident cases in which $100,000 or less is sought in damages are among the types of cases in which the fast-track route may be sought.

When a case is fast-tracked, the trial court puts limits on things like discovery, continuances, challenges to experts, and the time that the parties have for their presentation of evidence and arguments at trial. On a showing of good cause, a case that would otherwise be qualified for expedited action can be removed from the process by the trial court.

Facts of the Case

We have said it before, and we will probably say it again. When it comes to litigation related to an east Texas automobile accident, time is of the essence. This means that a person who is hurt in a car crash should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible so that a prompt investigation can be made and all filing deadlines can be met.

Timeliness is also very important when a case is “over” – that is, when the judge has entered an order adjudicating the parties’ respective rights in the case. While both sides to a judgment have a right to ask an appellate court to review the matter, this can only happen if a timely notice of appeal is filed.

Facts of the Case

An issue that sometimes comes up in an east Texas car accident case is whether or not a certain business or company is vicariously liable for a crash caused by someone who worked for that business or company.

The resolution of this issue can greatly affect the amount of monetary compensation received by the plaintiff in the case, since businesses and corporations typically have much higher liability insurance limits (or other resources that can be attached and liquidated by the injured party if he or she is successful at trial) than do private individuals.

Facts of the Case