Texas Appeals Court Affirms Take-Nothing Judgment in Truck-Motorcycle Crash in Heavy Fog

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.

At trial, the truck driver (who had 26 years of experience) testified that he looked both ways, opened his window to listen for oncoming traffic, and then proceeded to make a left turn; according to the defendant’s view of the case, the trucker “didn’t do anything wrong.” The defendant also presented the testimony of a witness who was allegedly following the decedent’s motorcycle shortly before the crash and offered a lay opinion that he was traveling too fast for the conditions. There was also testimony suggesting that the decedent may not have been wearing prescription eyeglasses at the time of the accident. The plaintiff’s witnesses focused on the limited visibility at the time of the crash, averring that the truck driver did not have the right of way and could not safely proceed across the road because he could not see well enough to determine whether it was safe to do so.

The jury entered a take-nothing judgment in favor of the defendants, and the plaintiff appealed.

Decision of the Court

The appellate court affirmed, concluding that there was legally sufficient evidence to support the jury’s no-liability finding for the defendants. In so holding, the appellate court rejected the plaintiff’s contention that the trucker’s failure to yield constituted negligence as a matter of law. Rather, the appeals court held that, when there is evidence that a driver exercised “some care,” there is a factual issue to be resolved as to whether the driver’s conduct was negligent.

The court then noted that the jury heard conflicting evidence from both sides regarding whether the truck driver was negligent. According to the court, the jury, who had the burden of judging the weight and credibility of the evidence, could reasonably have concluded that the truck driver had enough visibility to make a reasonable decision to make a left-hand turn, despite the fog.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an East Texas Car Accident Lawyer

Losing a loved one in a car or truck accident can be one of life’s most devastating experiences. Pursuing money damages following a fatal crash can be the last thing on a family’s mind at such at difficult time, but it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible if you have lost a family member in a collision caused by another’s negligence. At Earl Drott Law, we have been helping east Texans pursue fair compensation for personal injury and wrongful death for over 34 years, and we are here to serve your family’s current legal needs. For a free consultation in our Tyler, Smith County, offices, call us at 903-531-9300.

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