Texas Court Denies Mandamus Relief to Trucker and Trucking Company That Sought Leave to Designate “Responsible Third Party” in Accident Case

Legal News Gavel

In a Texas truck accident or car crash, it is possible that the negligence of two or more individuals may be found to have contributed to the wreck. Under the principles of proportionate responsibility and comparative fault, the plaintiff may receive less than his or her total damages in such situations if part of the blame for the accident is assigned to him or her.

Likewise, the amount that a particular defendant must pay toward the plaintiff’s damages award can vary depending on the amount of negligence assigned to that defendant. Cases involving multiple defendants can further complicate matters.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate court decision (No. 13-17-00648-CV; Court of Appeals for the Thirteenth District of Texas), the plaintiff in the underlying proceeding was hurt in a wreck with a tractor-trailer. The plaintiff sued the truck driver and the company for which he was working at the time of the wreck, seeking monetary compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses. The defendants later filed a motion to designate a “responsible third party.”

Ultimately, the trial court denied the relief sought by the defendants, and they filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in the appellate court.

Decision of the Court of Appeals

The court of appeals denied the relief sought by the defendants. Although the defendants’ motion focused on the denial of their second amended motion for leave to designate a responsible third party, the appellate court noted that there had been two nearly identical, older orders in the months prior to the second amended motion filed by the defendants. In reviewing the overall record, the court found that the defendants’ delay in seeking relief from the trial court’s earlier orders resulted in an effective waiver of their right to pursue mandamus relief.

The defendants had also complained that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to grant them a continuance of the trial in the underlying case. The court of appeals noted that, generally, a trial court’s denial of a motion for a continuance was reviewable by mandamus except in limited circumstances, such as when a defendant was denied a reasonable opportunity to develop the merits of his or her defense or when the trial court disallowed discovery that could not be made part of the appellate record. According to the court, the defendants here had not shown themselves entitled to mandamus relief.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an East Texas Injury Attorney

If you need to talk to a knowledgeable truck accident attorney in Tyler or Smith County, Texas, the office of Earl Drott Law is currently taking appointments for new clients. Call us at 903-531-9300 to schedule a time that is convenient for you to come in and talk about your case. The appointment is free, and many cases are accepted on a contingency fee contract under which we are not paid a legal fee unless a settlement or judgment is recovered on your behalf.

Related Blog Posts:

Texas Appeals Court Affirms Very Modest Verdict for Plaintiff Allegedly Injured by Dump Truck Driver

Texas Court of Appeals Sides With Trucker Regarding Evidentiary Ruling, Affirming Defense Verdict in Injured Pedestrian’s Lawsuit