Articles Posted in Negligence

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

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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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 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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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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