interstate traffic

In civil lawsuits, there is typically a limitations period after which a plaintiff’s case will be dismissed regardless of its merits. For car accident cases in which the plaintiff seeks to recover monetary compensation for injuries or property damage suffered due to another party’s alleged negligence, the statute of limitations is generally two years in Texas.

There are a few, limited exceptions to this general rule, but such cases are few and far between. (This is one of the many reasons that it is so important to contact a knowledgeable accident attorney as soon as possible after a crash.)

In order for the plaintiff to qualify under an exception or to have his or her filing deadline effectually tolled on a certain ground, he or she has the burden of proving the grounds for the exception. Unfortunately, this can be extremely difficult.

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pickup truck

Under Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code § 16.003(a), a person who sustains an injury due to the alleged negligence of another party must bring suit within two years of the day that the cause of action accrued (usually the day of the accident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries).

Although there are a few exceptions to this general rule, most personal injury claims that are not filed within two years of an accident will be dismissed on procedural grounds.

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trainIf every dispute arising under the law of negligence had to go all the way to a jury trial in order to be resolved, there would be a huge backlog in the courts. Those injured by others’ carelessness might have to wait many years for justice. The defendant also would have to live with a great deal of uncertainty, waiting on the outcome of the case.

This is one of the many reasons that settlements are highly favored as a way to end a legal dispute arising from an accident. A recent case explores some of the issues that a court may encounter in determining whether a particular agreement is binding on the parties.

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car accident sceneIf you or a family member has recently been involved in a motor vehicle accident in east Texas, you probably have a lot of questions, beginning with, “How long do I have to file a claim?”

Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. While there is a general statute of limitations for personal injury claims, there are many case-specific exceptions to the general rule. Thus, if you have been hurt in a wreck or lost a loved one in a fatal crash, it is imperative that you take swift action to protect your legal rights.

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commuter trainA successful personal injury lawsuit requires many components. First, the plaintiff must “prove his case” against the defendant by establishing that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, that the duty was breached, that the plaintiff suffered damages, and that there was proximate cause between the breach of duty and the damages claimed by the plaintiff.

Once these elements are proven, the jury decides the amount of money due the plaintiff, and the trial court enters a judgment in the plaintiff’s favor. At that point, the defendant has the option of paying the judgment or appealing the case to a higher court. In most cases, it is the defendant’s insurance company that makes this decision (and many others). This is because a policy of insurance is a contract under which both the insured driver and the company have certain rights and responsibilities.

A recent case dealt with the consequences of a driver’s apparent failure to formally demand that an insurance company defend him in a state court lawsuit brought by a passenger who alleged that she was hurt due to the driver’s negligence.

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removalSometimes, a civil litigant does not have a choice as to where he will file his claim against the opposing party. Other times, the plaintiff does have a choice, and there may be a specific reason for her to choose one court over another.

Typically, the defendant has no say in determining the forum in which the matter will be proceed – except in cases in which there is diversity of citizenship between the parties and more than $75,000 in controversy. In such cases, the defendant has the option of “removing” a case filed in state court to federal court, where there is concurrent jurisdiction.

Just as a plaintiff chooses to file in state court for a particular reason, there is often an ulterior motive for a removal to federal court by the defendant.

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garbage truck

Generally speaking, Texas law prevents those who are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits from filing a negligence lawsuit against their employer or co-workers. Of course, who exactly is or is not an “employer” can be the subject of great dispute.

Recently, a Texas appeals court was called upon to weigh in on the question of whether a garbage company to which a temporary staffing agency had assigned a worker was the worker’s “employer” for the purposes of the exclusive remedy provision of the workers’ compensation statutes.

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examining a contract

Insurance policies can be very difficult to understand – so difficult that even lawyers and judges sometimes disagree about the meanings of certain terms or clauses.

A recent case involving the construction of multiple policies of insurance following an automobile accident illustrates the point.

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motorcycleAs most people know, a common place to have an accident is in or near a construction zone. For this reason, it is wise to slow down and leave plenty of room in front of one’s vehicle when driving in such areas.

Rush hour traffic also can be a frequent occasion for an accident because there are more vehicles than usual on the road, many drivers are distracted, and a disproportionate number of automobiles tend to speed.

Recently, an east Texas court was called upon to determine whether a jury made a mistake with regard to assigning fault in a multi-vehicle accident that occurred near a construction zone in rush hour traffic.

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pointing fingersUnder Texas tort law, a person who is hurt due to the negligence of another individual, a business, or a governmental entity has the option of filing a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses.

In order to establish a prima facie case of negligence, the plaintiff must provide proof of four distinct elements:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Once this hurdle is met, other issues, including the amount of damages necessary to fully compensate the plaintiff for his or her injuries, must be decided. One of the most common issues that arise in Texas car accident cases is that of proportionate responsibility.

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