Articles Posted in Personal Injury

It may come as a surprise that, during the trial of a Texas car accident case, the jury will most likely hear very little, if anything, about whether the defendant was insured at the time of the accident. The thought behind the rule generally prohibiting such evidence is that, if the jury knows that the defendant is insured, they will be more likely to find in the plaintiff’s favor.

However, there is an equally valid argument that, by being deprived of the knowledge that the defendant had insurance, they will instead think that any verdict they render will have to be paid directly by the defendant, thus causing them to find in the defendant’s favor. While not every utterance of the word “insurance” will result in a mistrial, it is highly likely that there will be an appeal if a mention is made and the jury subsequently awards a substantial verdict in the plaintiff’s favor.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who was injured in an multi-vehicle automobile accident. He filed suit against the defendant motorist, who allegedly set the collision in motion by proceeding through a “stale yellow or red” signal light. At trial, the defendant testified that “the light had turned yellow before the intersection,” forcing him to make a “split second decision whether to stop or go.” He further stated that he saw a truck coming from the left and hit his brakes, but the first impact of the multi-car accident occurred, nevertheless. Although the defendant insisted that he did not enter the intersection on a red light, his adult son told police officers at the scene that his father had, in fact, ran the red light.

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Most east Texas motor vehicle accident cases arise from a collision of some sort – typically, one vehicle striking another, as in a rear-collision or T-bone accident. Of course, there are other ways in which a person can be hurt by a vehicle.

For example, a recent appellate case involved a student who was injured by a fan on board a school bus. Just as with a collision-based car accident, one of the primary inquiries was likely to be whether the defendant acted negligently – that is, was there a breach of duty that proximately caused the injuries about which the plaintiff complained?

Given that the defendant was a governmental entity, however, another important question had to be addressed first: was the school district immune from suit under the provisions of the Texas Tort Claims Act, or had immunity been waived?

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The importance of retaining an attorney as soon as possible after being involved in an east Texas car or truck accident cannot be overstated. There are many deadlines that must be complied with, or else the injured party may forfeit his or her right to pursue fair and just compensation from the person whose negligence caused the collision.

Unfortunately, far too many people wait until the last minute to talk to a lawyer about their situation. When this happens, the chances of having a case dismissed due to an issue of timeliness greatly increases.

Part of the reason for this is that there is not just a single deadline that must be complied with. Depending upon the particulars of a given case, there may be multiple deadlines and filing requirements. Missing even one of these important deadlines can be fatal to an otherwise valuable claim for money damages.

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In a Texas automobile accident case, the plaintiff has only a certain amount of time in which to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver whom he or she believes caused the accident at issue. The plaintiff must also take timely steps to see that this paperwork is served upon the defendant and not merely filed in the clerk’s office at the courthouse.

If this is not done, it is highly likely that the plaintiff’s case will be dismissed on procedural grounds due to his or her failure to comply with the statute of limitations.

While there are a few exceptions to this general rule, such cases are few and far between. Usually, failure to abide by the limitations period is fatal to what might otherwise have been a valuable cause of action against a negligent party, leaving the plaintiff with no monetary recovery despite the defendant’s fault in causing the accident.

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Getting started on an east Texas car accident case as soon as possible is very important. When a would-be litigant sits on his or her rights, he or she risks possible dismissal of what might otherwise be a valid and potentially valuable claim, if certain procedural hurdles are not met. While there are a few instances in which a lack of timeliness may be excused, these are few and far between, and the burden of proving that the delay was excusable falls on the plaintiff.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Tran v. Trejos, Fourteenth Court of Appeals of Texas, No. 14-17-00998-CV), the plaintiff was a man who sought monetary compensation for injuries he suffered in an automobile accident which he alleged was caused by the defendant driver’s negligence. The accident happened on August 27, 2015, and the plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed on January 31, 2017 – well within the two year statute of limitations for personal injury actions set forth in Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003. However, service of process was not perfected on the defendant until October 9, 2017, which was several weeks past the two-year limitations period.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint on the grounds that it was barred by the statute of limitations. The District Court of Harris County agreed and entered summary judgment for the defendant. The plaintiff appealed.

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Generally speaking, when a motorist causes an east Texas car accident while he or she is “on the clock,” the motorist’s employer may be named as a defendant in a resulting lawsuit and potentially held vicariously liable to the injured party for his or her medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages. This benefits the injured person because, usually, an employer has “deeper pockets” (higher liability insurance limits and/or assets that could be liquidated to satisfy a judgment) than the employee.

Sometimes, an employer may be held liable for a worker’s “off-the-clock” actions, but these cases are rare. It all comes down to the specific facts of the case.

The Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Texas Court of Appeals, Third District; No. 03-18-00252-CV), the plaintiff was a man who was injured in an automobile accident allegedly caused by the negligence of the defendant’s employee. At the time of the accident, the defendant’s employee had left work and was on his way home. However, a co-worker was riding with him, and the employee decided to stop by a future work site so that the he could show the co-worker the location of the site. According to the employee, he did not intend to get out of the vehicle or speak to anyone onsite. The accident happened as the employee was attempting to turn into the driveway of the future work site. Continue Reading

Timeliness is extremely important in the litigation of an east Texas automobile accident case. Even if you are already of aware of the date that the statute of limitations runs in your particular case, there may be other requirements (with earlier deadlines) that require your attention – especially if a governmental entity or employee is likely to be a defendant.

Unfortunately, the failure to take timely legal action or comply with procedural requirements in a car wreck case is usually fatal to the plaintiff’s claim, even if he or she suffered permanent injuries and someone else was obviously at fault. (Even if the case is not ultimately dismissed, waiting too long to talk to a lawyer about your case can cause other issues, such as spoliation of evidence.)

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate case (Court of Appeals for the Thirteenth District of Texas; No. 13-18-00090-CV), the plaintiffs were a mother and daughter who were injured in an automobile accident allegedly caused by a garbage truck driver employed by the defendant city. The accident happened on May 26, 2015. On May 18, 2016, the plaintiffs sent formal notice of their claim to the city. Continue Reading

Even in a “simple” east Texas car accident case in which one driver seeks monetary compensation from another motorist whose negligence obviously caused the crash, things can get complicated.This is all the more so when two drivers blame each other for an automobile accident. In such a situation, it is very important that the jury be charged appropriately with regard to the assignment of fault, assuming that the evidence warrants such a charge.

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided appellate case (Court of Appeals for the Fourth District of Texas; No. 04-17-00369-CV), the original plaintiff was a man who was hurt in an automobile accident in September 2013. He sued both the driver of the car in which he was riding and the city with whom the other driver was employed at the time of the crash. According to the original plaintiff, both drivers’ negligence contributed to the wreck, and the city was vicariously liable for its employee’s negligence; the respective drivers, however, each claimed that they had the green light at the intersection where the collision occurred.

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