Injured Woman’s Claim Against Allegedly Negligent Driver’s Employer Failed Due to Lack of Evidence, Per Texas Court of Appeals

Everyone knows that the outcome of a divorce case is often based on the resolution of “he said, she said” factual disputes. East Texas car accident cases are similar in this regard, although it may be “he said, he said” or “she said, she said,” depending on the gender of the respective parties. In cases in which the plaintiff and the defendant blatantly disagree about what caused the accident – or in situations in which one of the parties has given multiple accounts of how the crash happened – the court (or the jury) has the difficult task of deciding who is telling the truth.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff and the defendant in a recent case (No.  04-16-00739-CV; Fourth Court of Appeals of Texas) had very different theories as to how a two-vehicle accident involving the plaintiff and the defendant’s employee happened. According to the plaintiff, she was traveling along a four-lane highway when the defendant’s employee, whom the plaintiff alleged was acting within the course and scope of her employment with the defendant, pulled out in front of her, forcing the plaintiff to strike the employee’s vehicle. The defendant, on the other hand, maintained that the accident happened because its employee, who had ended her work duties for the day and was on her way home, was t-boned by the plaintiff, whom it alleged was speeding and distracted by her cellphone.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit against the defendant asserted claims for vicarious liability, gross negligence, failure to supervise, and negligent hiring, supervision, and retention (along with several other claims based on negligence). The trial court granted the defendant’s hybrid traditional and no-evidence motion for summary judgment.

Decision of the Court

The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendant. The plaintiff maintained that a genuine issue of material fact concerning the employee’s credibility precluded summary judgment, but the reviewing court found that the facts upon which the plaintiff relied (namely, a variation in the version of the accident given to the defendant employer via email after the accident versus her deposition testimony after the case was filed) did not create an issue regarding the employee’s credibility because the second version of events was, at most, a “more specific and detailed description” of what happened.

The court of appeals also agreed with the defendant that the plaintiff had not provided sufficient evidence to survive a motion for summary judgment on the issue of vicarious liability, opining that there was no evidence to support the plaintiff’s contention that the employee was in the course and scope of her employment with the defendant when the collision occurred. The court likewise held that there was no evidence to support the plaintiff’s remaining negligence claims, noting that the plaintiff had failed to provide a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendant owed her any duty of care at all, given that the employee was off-duty at the time of the wreck.

Speak to an East Texas Car Accident Lawyer

Automobile accidents can result in substantial physical injuries, medical expenses, impairment, lost earning capacity, disfigurement, and suffering. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a negligent or reckless driver, you need to file a claim in the appropriate court in order to preserve your legal rights. You have only a limited amount of time to do this; if you do not, your claim will be barred by the statute of limitations. The east Texas car accident firm of Earl Drott Law can help. Call us at 903-531-9300 for a complimentary case evaluation concerning your Tyler, Smith County, or other east Texas car, truck, or motorcycle collision.

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