Articles Posted in Personal Injury

serving alcohol

Many states, including Texas, have so-called “Dram Shop Act” laws that can be used to hold a business (or sometimes even a private host) liable for serving alcoholic beverages to someone who is obviously intoxicated.

Texas’ version of this law is codified at Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 2.02. Under this statute, a person seeking to recover compensation on a Dram Shop claim must prove that the person to whom the alcoholic beverages were served was “obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others.” The claimant must also prove that the intoxication of the person who was over-served was the proximate cause of the damages he or she suffered.

Typically, the plaintiff in an east Texas car accident case filed under the Dram Shop Act is a person who is a victim of a drunk driving accident. A recent case presented an exception to this general rule.

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woman's shouldersIn an East Texas personal injury case arising from a motor vehicle accident, there are sometimes multiple witnesses who testify at trial regarding how the accident happened and the effects that it had on the plaintiff’s physical health and well-being.

These witnesses may include not only the plaintiff and the defendant but also sometimes experts such as medical providers and even accident reconstructionists. When there is a conflict in this evidence, it is up to the jury to determine the relative credibility of the witnesses. (However, one or both parties may contest the trial court’s admissibility of certain testimony on appeal.)

Facts of the Case

mailboxIf you have been involved in a traffic accident, it may be tempting to take a “wait and see” approach. You may be thinking, “As long as I file my case by the statute of limitations, I’m good, right?” Not necessarily.

In some east Texas car accident cases, there are other considerations that effectively “move up” the filing deadline, and a delay can result in the dismissal of an otherwise valid claim. A recent federal case illustrates the point.

Facts of the Case

interstate traffic

In civil lawsuits, there is typically a limitations period after which a plaintiff’s case will be dismissed regardless of its merits. For car accident cases in which the plaintiff seeks to recover monetary compensation for injuries or property damage suffered due to another party’s alleged negligence, the statute of limitations is generally two years in Texas.

There are a few, limited exceptions to this general rule, but such cases are few and far between. (This is one of the many reasons that it is so important to contact a knowledgeable accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash.)

In order for the plaintiff to qualify under an exception or to have his or her filing deadline effectually tolled on a certain ground, he or she has the burden of proving the grounds for the exception. Unfortunately, this can be extremely difficult.

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trainIf every dispute arising under the law of negligence had to go all the way to a jury trial in order to be resolved, there would be a huge backlog in the courts. Those injured by others’ carelessness might have to wait many years for justice. The defendant also would have to live with a great deal of uncertainty, waiting on the outcome of the case.

This is one of the many reasons that settlements are highly favored as a way to end a legal dispute arising from an accident. A recent case explores some of the issues that a court may encounter in determining whether a particular agreement is binding on the parties.

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commuter trainA successful personal injury lawsuit requires many components. First, the plaintiff must “prove his case” against the defendant by establishing that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, that the duty was breached, that the plaintiff suffered damages, and that there was proximate cause between the breach of duty and the damages claimed by the plaintiff.

Once these elements are proven, the jury decides the amount of money due the plaintiff, and the trial court enters a judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. At that point, the defendant has the option of paying the judgment or appealing the case to a higher court. In most cases, it is the defendant’s insurance company that makes this decision (and many others). This is because a policy of insurance is a contract under which both the insured driver and the company have certain rights and responsibilities.

A recent case dealt with the consequences of a driver’s apparent failure to formally demand that an insurance company defend him in a state court lawsuit brought by a passenger who alleged that she was hurt due to the driver’s negligence.

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motorcycleAs most people know, a common place to have an accident is in or near a construction zone. For this reason, it is wise to slow down and leave plenty of room in front of one’s vehicle when driving in such areas.

Rush hour traffic also can be a frequent occasion for an accident because there are more vehicles than usual on the road, many drivers are distracted, and a disproportionate number of automobiles tend to speed.

Recently, an east Texas court was called upon to determine whether a jury made a mistake with regard to assigning fault in a multi-vehicle accident that occurred near a construction zone in rush hour traffic.

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busy street

Jury trials are part of the fabric of the American judicial system. The right to have one’s case decided by a jury of one’s peers is a great privilege. A jury can award substantial damages that can go far in compensating an injured person for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering caused by a negligent driver.

However, having one’s case proceed to a trial by jury in a personal injury case (or any other case, for that matter) is not without risk. After all, if the outcome was obvious to both parties, the case would probably have settled out of court.

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truck wreckMany issues, including proportionate responsibility (sometimes known as contributory negligence or comparative fault), can arise in a vehicle accident case. Recently, a Texas appeals court was asked to consider this issue, along with several evidentiary issues, after an accident involving an armored truck left a man with serious injuries.

The jury found in favor of the injured man, awarding him a substantial verdict. Dissatisfied with the result, the defendants appealed.

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insurance adjuster

As any attorney who regularly represents those who have been injured or have lost loved ones due to a motor vehicle accident caused by another person’s negligence can tell you, it is very important to talk to an attorney before signing anything proffered by an insurance company. In fact, the best practice is to speak to an attorney before even talking to anyone from the defendant’s insurance company.

A recent case illustrates what can happen when this advice is not followed.

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