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When an East Texas car accident involves multiple vehicles, as most do, it is typical for a person who is injured in one car to name the driver of the other automobile as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation.

The defendant may disagree with this and claim that the other driver was at fault. If it is the driver himself who filed the lawsuit, this is typically done in the form of an answer and counter-complaint. If the plaintiff is, instead, a passenger, the defendant may still name the other driver as a responsible third party, but the process of doing so is more complicated.

Facts of the Case

Most motor vehicle accidents are caused by negligence. This negligence may be on the part of an individual, a business, a governmental entity, or a combination thereof.

If a defect in an automobile contributed to the crash, the injured person may seek relief in the form of a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the vehicle or the faulty component part.

Such cases tend to be very complex, procedurally speaking, especially when the vehicle or a part thereof was manufactured by a company outside the United States.

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The most common issues in appellate court opinions arising from car wreck, truck crash, and motorcycle collision cases revolve around duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. With regard to damages, both personal property damage and compensation for physical injuries may be disputed at trial and on appeal.

A recent appellate decision dealt with another possible element of damages in a car accident case:  the loss of use of the automobile of the non-at-fault driver, particularly whether the driver could recover for both the loss of use of his own vehicle and rental charges for a temporary replacement vehicle.

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Wrong-way accidents are becoming an increasing problem on Texas roadways. The Texas Department of Transportation records reflect a 13% increase in wrong-way crashes during 2014. Wrong-way crashes have claimed the lives of of 269 Texans in the last fourt years and have injured another 2,800 motorists.

While signage, confusion, and distracted driving contribute to the rise the largest factor is alcohol. In most cases the wrong-way driver has been drinking. While there are many excuses given the wrong-way driver is nonetheless legally liable.

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The Texas Supreme Court reversed the Fort Worth Court of Appeals and denied the recovery of the type of intangible damages often recovered in wrongful death cases. A Fort Worth family sued for the sentimental value of their family pet that was accidentally euthanized by the local animal shelter. The Texas Supreme Court recognized that owners had an unquestionable attachment to “man’s best friend” and conceded the sentimental value pets even mentioning Old Yeller. However, the Court reaffirmed the long-settled rule in Texas that the recovery for the loss of a pet is limited to actual or market value. The Court specifically prohibited the recovery of personal injury type damages for loss of companionship or emotional distress.

Both animal rights and veterinary medicine groups have been following the case closely fearing that the creation of a cause of action for wrongful death type damages for the loss of a pet would make veterinary care cost prohibitive for most pets and pet owners.

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Responsible young drivers understand the dangers of texting while driving and have begun to create online public safety announcements in hopes of preventing auto accidents. In spite of the actions of their peers these young drivers appreciate the dangers of texting while driving. Texting-related accidents are particularly dangerous because the at-fault driver often makes no application of their brakes before impact resulting in a more severe accident and aggravated injuries.

Contests such as the Teens Drive Smart Video Contest have helped increase the awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. Texting is a particularly onerous problem because it is prevalent among young, inexperienced drivers who need to be focusing 100% of their attention on operating a motor vehicle.

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The consumer protections set out in the Deceptive Trade Practices Act seem to have escaped notice in a session of the Texas Legislature otherwise notable for corporate and insurance friendly changes to Texas law. The DTPA continues to authorize economic damages, mental anguish, treble damages, costs and attorneys’ fees based upon a finding of a false, misleading or deceptive trade practice. If the Defendant’s violation of the DTPA is found to be committed “knowingly” then the jury may award additional damages up to three times the amount of the economic damages. If the jury finds that the Defendant’s violation of the DTPA was “intentional” then the additional damages may be in an amount not more than three times the economic and mental anguish damages. Although the Act has undergone a number of changes including exempting personal injury and medical malpractice claims from the Act in continues to be a powerful consumer protection tool.

For more information contact a Tyler Deceptive Trade Practices Attorney.

The DTPA offers a powerful tool for forcing wrongdoers to do the right thing in situations where the amount of money at issue might not otherwise justify the expense of litigation. Unfortunately, every industry has abusive practices that survive only because of a lack of enforcement of the civil laws. The DTPA was designed to address such situations. The DTPA applies to false, misleading and deceptive trade practices in connection with the sale of a good or service. The DTPA requires that a demand letter be sent to the wrongdoer setting forth the wrongful acts and demanding the payment of the resulting damages and attorneys fees. If the wrongdoer fails to pay the demand then the victim may proceed with the filing of a DTPA lawsuit and recover statutory damages. If the judge or jury finds that the Defendant “knowingly” violated the DTPA then the victim may recover three times the economic damages. The victim may also recover mental anguish damages. If the trier of fact finds that the Defendant acted intentionally then the trier of fact may award an amount equal to three times the mental anguish damages. In addition to actual damages and treble damages the victim may also recover costs and attorneys fees. Properly used the DTPA provides an economically feasible method of correcting and deterring small damage abusive practices.

For more information contact a Tyler Injury Attorney today.

Most of my clients are nice, responsible people who have suffered significant injuries through no fault of their own. They would have liked to have been able to resolve the matter directly with the liability insurance carrier and made substantial efforts to do so. They made the decision to hire a lawyer as a last resort. Yet many of them still feel the need to make sure that I understand up front that they “don’t believe in lawsuits.” They then proceed to explain to me how they were blameless in causing their injuries, how difficult dealing with their injuries has been, how they only want to be treated fairly and how the insurance adjuster has ignored and abused them to such an extent that they feel that they have no choice but to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit.

We have all been brainwashed by many years of insurance company propaganda to subconsciously believe that all lawsuits filed by other people are frivolous and bad while we continue to rationally analyze our own situations and conclude that when necessary a lawsuit is a good thing and should be pursued. I offer as a prime example one of the leaders of an anti-lawsuit group. This gentlemen is an outspoken critic of lawsuits yet at last count he had reportedly filed more than sixty lawsuits. Obviously he believes that a good lawsuit is one which he files and a frivolous lawsuit is one filed by someone else. No one wants to be one of those “other people” who filed a lawsuit that we have been conditioned to believe is groundless or unnecessary. Yet few stop to think that those “other people” were also blameless, dealing with difficult injuries, only wanted to be treated fairly, and were ignored and abused by an insurance company before they filed one of those “other people” lawsuits.

For more information contact a Tyler Injury Attorney today.

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