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Texas is mourning after the untimely deaths of NFL player Cedric Benson and his passenger, a University of Texas graduate. According to news reports the player’s motorcycle collided with a white minivan on an Austin, Texas highway. Witnesses state that good samaritans and bystanders offered assistance before Texas fire and emergency services arrived at the scene. Representatives at the Austin police department said that they would comment after reviewing witness footage of the accident.

Tragic Texas motorcycle accidents are often the result of some wrongdoing, and the victims and their families are entitled to recourse. Under the Texas Wrongful Death Statute, plaintiffs can assert a claim if the death was a result of the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness” of an individual or entity. Some common instances where a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate are in drunk or distracted driving accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and medical malpractice cases. Filing this type of claim is appropriate regardless of whether the state pursues criminal charges against the culpable party.

Texas law only permits specific individuals to commence a wrongful death statute on behalf of their loved one. Parents, spouses and children of the deceased individual may file a wrongful death claim. These parties can file the lawsuit individually or as a group. Texas considers adult and fully adopted children eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Children that are fully and legally adopted may not file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their biological parent. Unfortunately, Texas law does not permit siblings to file a wrongful death claim.

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Texas personal injury victims not only have to prove that a defendant is liable for their injuries but also the extent of the victim’s damages. In a recent personal injury case on appeal, the court considered the standards for awarding certain damages under Texas law, and whether the $2.8 million award could stand.

In that case, another truck crashed into the plaintiff’s truck. The plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the driver and his employer, a trucking company. The crash caused the plaintiff back injuries, requiring him to undergo back surgery and causing him continuing pain. The case went to trial and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him over $2.8 million in damages. The jury awarded damages in the amounts of: $150,000 for past physical pain, $120,000 for past mental anguish, $94,243 for past medical expenses, $200,000 for past physical impairment, $1,000 for past disfigurement, $15,000 for past lost wages, $1 million for future physical pain, $140,000 for future mental anguish, and $1.1 million for future physical impairment.

On appeal before a federal appeals court, the defendants argued there was no support for the future mental anguish award and that the future pain award was excessive. The court first considered which standards applied. Federal law in the jurisdiction allows a verdict at 150% of the highest inflation-adjusted recovery in a published decision involving comparable facts. In contrast, Texas does not use a maximum recovery rule, and instead looks at whether the evidence would allow a reasonable, fair-minded jury to come to reach the verdict that the jury reached. However, in a case that is “so factually insufficient or so against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence as to be manifestly unjust,” strong deference to the jury’s verdict is not necessary.

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Experts agree that seat belts help save lives. And it is common knowledge that drivers and passengers should always wear their seat belts regardless of the length of the trip. However, what is less known is that the seat belt defense may allow a defendant in a Texas car accident case to use an accident victim’s failure to wear a seat belt against them.

The seat belt defense is really an interpretation of the rules of evidence, specifically, whether evidence of the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt is admissible. For the most part, only relevant evidence is admissible. Most states do not allow defendants to use the seat belt defense, because they consider such evidence irrelevant. Specifically, these jurisdictions determined that whether a person is wearing a seat belt has nothing to do with whether the defendant negligently caused the accident.

Of course, defendants naturally want to introduce seat belt non-use evidence to argue that the plaintiff is responsible for their injuries, and that they should not be on the hook for damages that the plaintiff could have prevented. And, in a 2015 case, for the first time, the Texas Supreme Court held that seat belt non-use evidence was admissible, reversing a long line of decisions.

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Recently, the Supreme Court of Texas issued an opinion stemming from a wrongful death lawsuit brought against the City of Killeen, Texas (the “City”). According to the court’s opinion, the victims died after striking an un-barricaded dirt mound on an unlit road in the City. The victims’ relatives filed a lawsuit against the city, alleging that the dirt mound was a “special defect” on the City’s property.

Generally, under the theory of sovereign immunity, governments cannot be sued by their citizens based on a tort claim. However, the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA) allows citizens to sue the government in specific situations. The TTCA enables personal injury lawsuits based on two grounds. First, when a citizen suffers property damage, personal injury, or death from a Texas employee’s use or operation of a motor vehicle during their scope of employment. And second, if personal injury or death occurs because of a condition or use of personal or real government property.

To succeed on the second ground, the TTCA breaks down the claim into two additional classes: special and premise defects. Special defects, such as the one that was alleged in the above case, are conditions created by the government. These are conditions such as excavations and construction sites. Premises defect lawsuits often mirror typical personal injury lawsuits such as slip and fall cases. Unlike special defect lawsuits, premises liability lawsuit requires the defendant to have actual knowledge of the defect.

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A Texas appeals court recently considered a wrongful death case in which a Texas man was killed in an accident on the job. The man was involved in a single-vehicle accident involving a 1987 Freightliner, and died shortly after the accident occurred. The man was acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident. The employer was a nonsubscriber under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, and the plaintiff, the man’s husband, filed suit against the defendant for negligence and gross negligence. The employer argued that it was not liable because the man was intoxicated at the time of the accident. After a hearing, a trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer.

Under the Texas summary judgment standard, the party moving for summary judgment has the burden to prove that there is no genuine issue of material fact on at least one essential issue and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. If the moving party succeeds in satisfying its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that an issue or evidence should preclude summary judgment. In addition, all motions for summary judgment must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that summary judgment should not have been granted because there were genuine issues of material fact concerning whether the man was legally intoxicated when the accident occurred. In support of its defense, the employer submitted an autopsy report and a toxicology report. The autopsy report showed that there was amphetamine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl in the man’s blood when he died. A doctor’s report stated that the amount found reflected a “voluntary introduction” of the drugs.

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Texas drivers have a duty to drive carefully, as well as to respond to dangerous situations in a reasonable and thoughtful manner. This means that Texas personal injury plaintiffs may be able to recover compensation if another party fails to operate a vehicle with due care or act reasonably, even when that party is responding to a dangerous situation.

Under Texas law, the sudden emergency doctrine (or the imminent peril doctrine) concerns the response of a defendant to a sudden and unexpected emergency. A defendant may be protected under the doctrine only if the defendant can prove the following. First, that there was a sudden and unexpected emergency, and that someone was in actual or apparent danger of immediate injury. Second, that the defendant did not cause the sudden and unexpected emergency. Third, that the defendant acted as a reasonably careful person would have acted under the circumstances, even if another course of action would have been safer. The doctrine is applicable if a driver who was acting with reasonable care was suddenly and unexpectedly confronted by an emergency situation that the defendant did not cause. Essentially, it protects a person who acts in response to a sudden emergency, and it later becomes clear that another course of action would have avoided an injury.

However, the doctrine applies only in cases where an unexpected physical danger comes about that is so sudden that it deprives the driver of the ability to use reasonable judgment. In addition, a party cannot be protected by the doctrine if that party’s negligence caused or contributed to the dangerous situation.

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Texas patients have to put a great deal of trust in their health care providers. This includes pharmacists, who are responsible for safely and correctly filling and dispensing medications. Texas pharmacy errors can be devastating for victims and their families.

According to a local news source, an Austin woman suffered a terrible injury after receiving a shot from a compounding pharmacy. The woman has a genetic disorder that causes her seizures, which she was able to control several years ago when doctors prescribed her a specific shot. Compounding pharmacies tailor medicine for their patients in cases where those people cannot take a standard drug as manufactured. The woman took her prescription to a compounding pharmacy, and was given the medication in the form of a specific B-12 shot. She received over 250 rounds of the medicine without incident.

Recently, the woman received her tailored shot, and felt a burning sensation. She then developed a headache, dizziness, and disorientation. She looked in a mirror and at that point saw that the shot had burned her skin “and was going deeper.” She went to the emergency room, but because she also had Stage 3 breast cancer she was unable to receive anesthesia because of potential contamination—so, she was forced to do the procedure to scrape out the burn completely awake. A dermatologist said that it was a chemical burn, and lab results showed that the B-12 had a pH level of 13.2, similar to that of bleach. She continued to undergo treatment for the burn to scrape out the wound. The patient, a mom of three, said the pain was extreme, and continued to experience pain at home.

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Smoking has long been known to present serious health risks to young adults. However, when the use of e-cigarettes, also known as vape pens, became popular a few years back, many young adults assumed that this new form of smoking was safer than traditional cigarettes. For several reasons, that is not the case. In fact, e-cigarette and vape pen accidents have been the basis of many Texas personal injury lawsuits.

Since the U.S. Fire Administration began keeping track of e-cigarette injuries in 2009, there have been 195 documented incidents of vape pens exploding. These incidents injured 133 people, and of those, 38 people required hospitalization as a result of their injuries. Most of these injuries consisted of chemical burns and blast injuries to the face, hands, thighs, and groin.

Vaping presents many of the same risks as smoking traditional cigarettes, and also carries several unique risks. For example, according to a recent report by WebMD, in 2018, a vape pen exploded in a teen’s face, breaking his jaw. Apparently, the pen exploded during regular use.

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The state’s high court recently released an opinion in a Texas wrongful death case involving the death of an employee that worked for an independent contractor that was hired by the defendant property owner. The issue in the case was whether the property owner could be held liable for the employee’s death based on a theory of negligently hiring.

According to the court’s opinion, the property owner was an energy company that had hired a drilling company as a contractor to drill a well. A drilling company employee died while working on the well. He was working on the well when a rope caught on a pulley, causing a pipe to hit the employee in the head, which eventually resulted in his death. The employee’s family sued the energy company, alleging that the energy company negligently hired, retained, and supervised the drilling company.

A property owner can be held liable for a claim that harms an independent contractor or the contractor’s employees if the property owner controlled the work and knew or should have known of the risk or danger that caused the contractor harm. Under Chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, a property owner can be held liable for an injury to a contractor that is repairing, renovating, constructing, or modifying property, but only if the property owner controlled the work and “had actual knowledge of the danger or condition.”

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When a Texas employee is injured on the job, they may be able to obtain Texas workers’ compensation benefits until they are able to return to work. However, a workers’ compensation claimant is limited in the amount they can recover for their injuries. Typically, an injured worker can only recover for their medical expenses and lost wages.

A Texas personal injury claim, on the other hand, allows for an injured employee to recover more fully for their injuries, including for their pain and suffering. However, under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, when a workers’ compensation claim is appropriate, it is usually the employee’s sole remedy against their employer. This means that an injured employee may be prevented from pursuing a personal injury case against their employer.

There are several instances in which an injured employee may be able to pursue a Texas personal injury case against one or more parties. For example, if a third party causes an employee’s injuries, the employee may be able to pursue a Texas third-party claim against that person or organization. Third-party claims do not implicate Texas workers’ compensation laws because the named defendant is not the injured worker’s employer.