Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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

Immigration is a hot-button issue these days. From the feasibility of building a wall to the propriety of separating parents and children at the border, it seems there is a story in the news pertaining to immigration nearly every day.

The subject of immigration can even arise in an east Texas car or truck accident case, causing complications and, sometimes, the need for a new trial when potentially prejudicial information is presented to the jury.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the Thirteenth District; No. 13-17-00006-CV), the plaintiff was a woman who filed suit against the defendants, a truck driver and a trucking company, seeking compensation for injuries the plaintiff allegedly suffered in a 2013 motor vehicle accident. According to the plaintiff, the accident was caused by the negligence of the truck driver, who made an unsafe lane change and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle as the two were traveling along I-10. At trial, both the plaintiff and the truck driver testified with the aid of an interpreter. Continue Reading

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