Legal News GavelWhen someone brings a lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries suffered in an east Texas automobile accident, he or she may ask for reimbursement for past medical expenses, along with compensation for medical costs that may reasonably be expected to be incurred in the future. However, even in cases in which liability is clear, disputes may arise regarding the amount of money to which the plaintiff is entitled for his or her medical expenses, especially if the plaintiff was a minor at the time of the accident and is not joined in the lawsuit by his or her parents.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case (Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas; No. 01-16-00463-CV), the plaintiff was a young man who sought to recover compensation for injuries he suffered in a car accident that occurred when he was still a minor. The trial court directed a verdict on the plaintiff’s claim for past medical expenses, ruling that the defendant driver could not be held liable for the medical expenses incurred while the plaintiff was still a minor.

Legal News GavelIn most east Texas car accident cases, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, each of the four distinct elements of negligence:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Occasionally, however, a case arises in which a legal doctrine known as res ipsa loquitur applies.

Res ipsa loquitur is a Latin phrase that means “the thing speaks for itself.” In the context of a negligence lawsuit, a res ipsa loquitur instruction allows the jury to infer negligence from the circumstances of the accident, thereby effectively lowering the burden of proof for the plaintiff.

Facts of the Case

Legal News Gavel

A successful Texas car accident case has many components:  proof of liability of the negligent driver, credible evidence of the plaintiff’s physical injuries and other damages, and enough insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiff for his or her losses.

Unfortunately, the “insurance coverage” issue can be problematic. If the defendant does not have insurance, or in a case in which the defendant’s identity is not known (as in the case of a hit-and-run driver), the plaintiff may have to rely upon his or her own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Thus, it is important that an insurance policy be purchased at the appropriate time.

As is illustrated in the case below (concerning lack of coverage for a new car that was vandalized during an attempted theft), disputes can arise concerning coverage, and failing to obtain adequate coverage in a timely fashion can be a very costly mistake.

Continue Reading

Legal News GavelUnder 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

Legal News Gavel
We have said it before, and we will probably say it again. When it comes to litigation related to an east Texas automobile accident, time is of the essence. This means that a person who is hurt in a car crash should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible so that a prompt investigation can be made and all filing deadlines can be met.

Timeliness is also very important when a case is “over” – that is, when the judge has entered an order adjudicating the parties’ respective rights in the case. While both sides to a judgment have a right to ask an appellate court to review the matter, this can only happen if a timely notice of appeal is filed.

Facts of the Case

Legal News GavelWhen 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

Legal News Gavel
An issue that sometimes comes up in an east Texas car accident case is whether or not a certain business or company is vicariously liable for a crash caused by someone who worked for that business or company.

The resolution of this issue can greatly affect the amount of monetary compensation received by the plaintiff in the case, since businesses and corporations typically have much higher liability insurance limits (or other resources that can be attached and liquidated by the injured party if he or she is successful at trial) than do private individuals.

Facts of the Case

Legal News Gavel
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

Legal News GavelThere are many issues of timeliness in an east Texas car accident case. First, there is the statute of limitations, which governs the time the injured party has to file his or her claim in court. The statute of repose may also come into play if there is a product liability claim or medical malpractice claim that is part of the car accident case. The time for filing notice of a claim with the government may also be relevant if one of the defendants is a governmental entity.

Once suit is filed, there are many additional deadlines that must be met, including discovery deadlines and time limits on the filing of certain pre-trial motions. While there is not an absolute deadline that says when a trial must occur, the best course of action is to get to trial as soon as possible once the plaintiff has been released from medical care and discovery has been completed. Otherwise, it is possible that the defendant will file a motion to dismiss for want of prosecution, unnecessarily complicating matters and causing additional delay.

Facts of the Case

Legal News Gavel
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.