Under Texas law (Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 169, to be exact), there is an “expedited actions process” through which parties to certain civil litigation may ask the court to fast-track their claims. East Texas car accident cases in which $100,000 or less is sought in damages are among the types of cases in which the fast-track route may be sought.
When a case is fast-tracked, the trial court puts limits on things like discovery, continuances, challenges to experts, and the time that the parties have for their presentation of evidence and arguments at trial. On a showing of good cause, a case that would otherwise be qualified for expedited action can be removed from the process by the trial court.
Facts of the Case
In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the Seventh District of Texas; Case No. 07-18-00116-CV), an underinsured motorist (UM) insurance company sought mandamus relief after a Texas trial court refused to remove a litigant’s claim for UM benefits from the fast-track process. According to the insurer, such relief was appropriate because the trial court’s discovery limitations would “vitiate or severely compromise its ability to present a defense” against the claim filed by its insured.
The Court’s Holding
In seeking mandamus relief, the insurance company contended that the insured had produced no records related to an eye injury she allegedly suffered in the crash. In the opinion of the court, this simply meant that the insured might lack the evidence necessary to prove her case, not that the case itself was too complex for the expedited process.
However, the court did go on to grant relief to the insurance company because it found that the trial court had acted wrongfully in limiting the discovery period to a time shorter than the 180 days allowed by statute for expedited actions. By cutting the discovery period by nearly half, the appellate court found that the lower tribunal had severely compromised the insurance company’s rights. There being no adequate remedy at law, the appellate court conditionally granted mandamus relief to the insurance company, instructing the trial court judge to vacate an earlier scheduling order and re-open discovery for an additional period of 74 days. In so holding, the appeals court noted that the trial court had discretion to control its own docket but found that, in this case, the lower court had placed an unreasonable limitation on the parties.
Need to Schedule an Appointment with a Texas Car Accident Lawyer?
Being involved in an east Texas car accident can be a life-changing event. Even when liability is clear, and both parties are insured, there can be many obstacles that threaten a fair recovery of compensation by the injured person. If you or a loved one has been hurt, experienced car accident attorney Earl Drott can help you understand your legal rights and assist you in the process of filing a claim for the compensation you are due. Call us at 903-531-9300 to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation.
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