Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Big rigs, semis, and 18-wheelers can cause devastating personal injuries and even wrongful death in a truck accident. It only takes a few seconds for a trucker’s inattention or negligent conduct to cause a crash that can forever devastate those who are in his or her path.

Fortunately, truckers and the trucking outfits that employ them usually have sizable liability insurance limits, such that the plaintiff’s medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages can be taken care of. Of course, just because such coverage exists does not automatically mean that the insurance company will be willing to pay out even a dime without a fight.

An experienced east Texas truck accident litigation attorney can help the accident victim and his or her family understand their legal rights and help them fight for what is right. It is important that those who have been hurt by a careless or reckless truck driver speak to counsel as soon as possible after an accident; you can bet the insurance company will have someone on the scene within a short time, but that person (or, more likely, that team of professionals) will only be looking out for the insurance company’s bottom line, not for what’s right for the injured person.

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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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A Texas truck accident can be devastating to an innocent motorist and his or her family. Medical bills can quickly mount, and finances can quickly spiral out of control with little or no money coming in due to the accident victim’s inability to work, either temporarily or permanently.

Fortunately, truck drivers and trucking companies can be held liable for the harm they cause. These types of cases must be pursued promptly, skillfully, and aggressively, however. The insurance companies and law firms that represent careless truckers and trucking outfits have their own interests at heart, not those of the people who are injured or the families of those that are killed by negligent truckers.

The good news is that most trucking companies do have a reasonable amount of insurance coverage (which, unfortunately is not always the case with regular drivers, who may only carry the minimum coverage required by the state). Still, it is likely that the plaintiff will have to fight hard for the recovery that he or she deserves because insurance companies try to keep payouts as low as possible, even when policy limits are high.

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Not all motor vehicle accidents happen on a street or highway. Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents can happen in parking lots, on other private property, and even on racetracks. Just as in other negligence cases, the burden in a Texas car accident case is on the plaintiff to show that the defendant breached a duty of care and that his or her injuries were the proximate result of this breach of duty. The defendant, in turn, may offer up one of more affirmative defenses aimed at preventing the plaintiff from prevailing at trial and/or to reduce any compensation ultimately awarded to the plaintiff in the case. A case of this nature was recently heard by the Texas Appellate Court, which ultimately found that a lower court had made a mistake in dismissing all of the driver’s claims against an allegedly negligence racetrack owner.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was a driver who was seriously injured when he lost control of his vehicle while participating in activities at a drag strip. His vehicle struck a retaining wall, catching fire and causing him permanent and severe injuries. According to the plaintiff, the accident happened because the defendant drag strip owner had been negligent in not effectively cleaning up fluids spilled in an earlier accident, thus causing the track to be dangerously slick. The plaintiff suffered both orthopedic injuries and severe burns in the crash.

In response to the plaintiff’s claims that it was negligence and grossly negligent in failing to adequately clean the unsafe track conditions, provide appropriate fire-fighting equipment, provide appropriate medical personnel and equipment, and provide an adequately-designed safety retaining wall, the defendant filed a combined no-evidence and traditional summary judgment motion. The district court found in the defendant’s favor as to the combined motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

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Proving negligence in a car accident case requires several elements of proof. In addition to providing evidence regarding the duty of care owed by the defendant(s) to the plaintiff(s) and the defendant’s alleged breach of that duty, the plaintiff must also provide competent evidence of any physical injuries for which he or she seeks compensation. However, simply proving that the plaintiff suffered from a particular medical condition after the accident at issue is not, in and of itself, sufficient. Rather, the plaintiff must show that the injuries complained of by the plaintiff were proximately caused by the accident. Oftentimes, this requires the opinion of a medical expert witness – typically, a doctor – who has examined the plaintiff’s injuries, diagnosed his or her medical condition and future prognosis, and made a determination as to whether these injuries and conditions are causally linked to the accident.

Facts of the Case

A recent appellate case involved a multi-car accident in east Texas. The plaintiffs in the case were the driver and occupants of a car that was traveling along the interstate when the car behind them was struck by the defendant’s car. According to the defendant, the accident occurred when the vehicle in front of her “jolted into traffic” as it was entering the interstate, and this did not leave the defendant with enough time to stop before hitting the rear right side of the car that was traveling behind the plaintiffs’ car. After the initial collision, the defendant’s vehicle reportedly ricocheted into the back of the plaintiffs’ automobile. Although the defendant’s vehicle was totaled in the collision and the middle vehicle was substantially damaged, there was only minimal damage to the plaintiffs’ car. No airbags deployed in any of the vehicles that were involved in the wreck.

The case was tried to a judge in Harris County District Court, a jury trial having been waived by the parties. After hearing the testimony of the parties, the trial court judge awarded the plaintiffs past medical expenses of $145,460. The defendant filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court judge denied. She appealed.

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A Texas car accident case is usually pursued under a legal theory known as “negligence.” To prove negligence, a plaintiff must establish four basic elements: duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation.

In the legal sense, a “duty” arises when one person has a responsibility to another to act in particular manner, usually established by law. For example, drivers are under a duty to keep a proper lookout for one another, so as to avoid an accident if possible. When someone fails in his or her duty, a “breach” is said to occur.

If harm comes to the person to whom the duty was owed, that person has “damages.” Damages include things like pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages caused by personal injury. If the victim’s damages were proximately caused by the defendant’s breach of duty, the defendant can be held liable for payment of monetary compensation to the plaintiff for his or her damages.

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Surely everyone knows by now that those who have been hurt in a Texas car accident or other vehicular wreck have only a limited time in which to file a lawsuit. Still, too many people put off talking to a lawyer about their case, making it more likely that their suit won’t get filed on time.

Granted, there are a few -a very few – situations in which the statute may be tolled, but a would-be plaintiff should never count on this. The best course of action is to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after an accident instead of putting off the important step of seeking legal advice about the case.

This not only allows for a timely filing of the necessary paperwork but also allows for a more thorough investigation of the accident itself, increasing the likelihood of a finding of liability against the negligent party when the case eventually goes to trial.

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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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