Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

East Texas truck wreck cases often involve many legal theories, especially in cases resulting in wrongful death. Some of these theories may be “direct negligence” theories of liability against the trucking outfit that owned the big rig involved in the crash (such as negligent hiring, negligent training, etc.) Sometimes, there may also be indirect negligence claims, such as an allegation of respondeat superior for the careless driving of the trucker who caused the accident.

Of course, the exact claims and legal theories vary from case to case, depending on the circumstances of a particular crash. If you or a loved one has been hurt by a negligent trucker or trucking outfit, an attorney experienced in these types of cases can help you get started on the appropriate claim(s) in your situation.

It is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible after a truck crash because such cases tend to be complex, requiring a thorough investigation of the crash and prompt legal action. Failure to speak to counsel early on can give the trucking outfit’s insurance company a considerable advantage as the case develops, so please act quickly if you find your or someone in your family has been involved in a truck accident.

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In a Texas truck accident case, it is not unusual for one or both parties to send certain requests for information and/or documentation to the other. This process is known as “discovery” and is intended to assist the parties in preparing for trial and, if possible, facilitating a settlement.

Sometimes, disputes arise during discovery, with one party or the other objecting to requests propounded by their opponent. Some grounds for objection include over-breadth of the request(s) or irrelevance of the information sought. Certain privileges may also come into play (such as the attorney-client privilege or the attorney work product doctrine). These disputes are usually settled by the trial court judge, but sometimes there is involvement from the court of appeals, as well.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the original plaintiffs were individuals who had been involved in a multi-car accident and/or had relatives who had perished in the accident. They filed suit in the 4th District Court of Rusk County, Texas, asserting claims against the truck driver whose negligence allegedly caused the crash and the delivery company that employed him. During the course of litigation, the plaintiffs sent the defendants interrogatories and requests for production. Included in these were a) requests for information concerning the identity of all commercial truck drivers dispatched out of the same facility as the defendant truck driver from 2006 to 2017 and the time in which those drivers were employed, and b) copies of documentation of all alcohol, drug, and controlled substance tests of the commercial truck drivers identified in the previous request.

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Maintaining a cause of action against a governmental entity whose negligence led to a traffic accident can be difficult. Unlike other, private defendants, the State and the entities within it are entitled to certain protections that can make it harder for an injured person or deceased person’s family to prevail in a negligence lawsuit.

This is not to say, however, that such a suit cannot be won. Recently, a Texas jury returned a favorable verdict against a governmental entity whose alleged negligence resulted in the death of two people in a Texas car accident along a stretch of road in which several serious accidents had previously occurred. However, since the defendant was a governmental entity, the trial court was forced to reduce the award of damages to the accident victims and families. This is because Texas law places a cap on the amount of money damages that a governmental entity must pay when a court makes a finding of negligence against it.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were individuals who had been hurt or lost family members in a 2016 motor vehicle accident that occurred in Travis County, Texas. At the time of the crash, the driver and four passengers were allegedly traveling along a two-mile stretch of road in which some 117 crashes had occurred between 2010 and 2016. The driver’s truck hydroplaned and the crash, killing two of the passengers and injuring the driver and remaining passengers. The plaintiffs brought suit against the defendant state department of transportation, alleging that the road condition was “so worn and slick” that it posed an unreasonable risk of harm. The plaintiffs further alleged that the defendant had actual knowledge of the highways dangerous condition insomuch as there had been at least four fatalities in the immediate vicinity of the crash in recent years and that the defendant had, in spite of this knowledge, failed to use ordinary care to make the premises safe.

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When a person is injured or killed during an automobile accident, the most obvious form of legal redress is a negligence action against the at-fault driver. However, an east Texas auto accident lawsuit may not be the only remedy in some cases – or it may not be a remedy at all.

Take, for example, the case of a person who is hurt or killed while on the job. In such a situation, the injured individual (or his or her family, if it is a fatal accident) may also opt to file a workers’ compensation claim. If a third party claim against a negligent motorist is ultimately successful, the workers’ compensation insurer may be entitled to subrogation for monies paid out, but, in the meantime, the family may receive disability or death benefits that would otherwise be unavailable.

A workers’ compensation claim might be the only option in some such cases, however, especially if the accident was a single vehicle accident or if the employee was clearly at fault in the wreck (and thus unable to bring a third-party claim against another driver). Continue Reading

East Texas car accident cases can sometimes involve issues beyond the typical “which driver was at fault” or “how much is the case worth” questions. For instance, sometimes the defendant in the case is not a driver at all, but instead a manufacturer of an automobile or component part. In these situations, jurisdiction and venue may be disputed, especially if the accident happened somewhere other than the county – or even the country – in which the lawsuit was filed.Facts of the Case

In a case recently considered on appeal (No. 08-17-00119-CV; Court of Appeals for the Eighth District of Texas), the court of appeals described the facts as “a variation on a familiar theme” in law school textbooks. It analyzed whether the defendant, an out-of-state tire manufacturer that had allegedly targeted Texas as a marketplace and sold products extensively here, could be brought into a Texas court to answer a claim of product liability for an accident that occurred when the plaintiffs, all Texas residents, were traveling in Mexico.

Decision of the Court

An east Texas car, truck, or motorcycle accident can happen any time of the night or day and under many different types of weather conditions. However, some kinds of weather tend to make an accident more likely. Snow, ice, rain, sleet, and fog can all interfere with a driver’s ability to control his or her vehicle and interact safely with those in other vehicles. When an accident does occur under such conditions, it is the job of the jury to determine which driver was at fault.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recently decided case (Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas; No. 01-17-00509-CV) was the representative of the estate of a man who died in a motor vehicle accident in late January 2014. The plaintiff’s suit alleged both negligence and gross negligence against the defendants, the driver and owner of the 18-wheeler with which the motorcycle of the plaintiff’s decedent collided. Several witnesses testified, offering conflicting testimony as to who was to blame for the crash. The one thing that everyone agreed upon was that there was a heavy fog on the morning of the accident, limiting visibility. Continue Reading

Most east Texas motorcycle accidents are caused by the negligent or reckless conduct of an individual – a motorist, a truck driver, a motorcyclist, etc. However, some motor vehicle collisions may be caused by other entities, including the government (or government employees).

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to pursue fair compensation when one of the defendants in an personal injury or wrongful death case is the government or a government employee. While it is not necessarily impossible in every case, it certainly does present some additional challenges beyond what would be necessary to prove liability against a more typical defendant.

Facts of the Case

There are many issues that must be taken into consideration in an east Texas truck accident case. Who are the proper defendants? What are the claims against each? Which court has jurisdiction and venue over the defendants and/or the claims?

Sometimes, issues of venue (i.e., the appropriate court in which a given case should be heard) can complicate an otherwise straightforward case. This is especially true in cases involving corporate defendants.

Facts of the Case

East Texas car accidents can happen for many different reasons. In most multi-vehicle cases, a wreck is caused by the negligence of one or both of the drivers – speeding, distracted driving, and driving while intoxicated are all common causes of motor vehicle accidents. In a single-vehicle accident, a driver may be at fault, but this is not always so. There could have been another factor, such as a defect in the automobile, a dangerous road (possibly due to improper maintenance), or an obstacle caused by a third party.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a recent appellate court case (No. 09-16-00280-CV; Court of Appeals for the Ninth District of Texas) were the heirs of a woman who was killed in 2006 when an allegedly defective tire on a 1995 Ford Explorer in which she was riding caused an accident. The decedent and her heirs were all residents of Mexico, and the accident happened in Mexico.

In an east Texas motorcycle accident, the burden of proof rests on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the accident. This requires proof of four elements:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. If any of these elements is missing, the plaintiff cannot recover a monetary judgment against the defendant.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (No. 04-16-00712-CV; Fourth Court of Appeals of Texas), the plaintiffs were the parents of a man who died after he lost control of his motorcycle in December 2013. During the accident, the decedent was thrown off his cycle and hit by three separate vehicles. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant motorcycle repair shop, alleging that the decedent lost control of the motorcycle because the defendant failed to properly repair the bike when the decedent took it in for repairs a few weeks before the accident.

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