Published on:

In some accident cases, a personal injury claim may be brought against a minor who is claimed to have been at fault. Such cases can be complicated, and the laws concerning the liability of minors vary from state to state. In Texas, minors are generally liable for their own torts; moreover, parents may be liable for their children’s acts in some cases.

Peeling OutGenerally, a person is not required to control the acts of another person. Yet, in the case of parents and their children, a parent may be liable if the parent negligently allows the child to act in a way that is likely to harm another person. A parent may also be liable if he or she gives the child a weapon or other dangerous instrumentality, or if the parent fails to control a child who is dangerous to others.

Parents are generally required to exercise reasonable care in controlling minor children to prevent them from creating an unreasonable risk of harm to others or from intentionally harming others. Some states have laws that provide that parents are liable for the damages caused by minor children while driving vehicles for family purposes. Texas does not follow that rule, but parents may still be held responsible in some circumstances.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Drunk driving is a serious concern throughout the country, but the issue is even more concerning in Texas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13,138 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Texas from 2003 to 2012. The rate of drunk driving deaths was higher in Texas than the national average across all age groups, according to data from 2012. In addition, the percentage of adults who reported driving after drinking too much was higher in Texas than nationally.

Cocktail and KeysThe CDC recommends that states have harsh drunk driving laws, including zero-tolerance laws, sobriety checkpoints, and ignition-interlock devices installed on cars for all offenders, as well as mass-media campaigns and school-based instructional programs, among other strategies.

Texas DUI Law

All states have drunk driving laws in place to protect the public from drunk drivers. In Texas, the state’s blood-alcohol limit is 0.08% for individuals 21 and older, and 0.04% for commercial drivers. Additionally, there is a zero-tolerance law in effect for individuals younger than 21 years old. Being involved in a DUI accident can have devastating consequences, and individuals who are injured in a Texas drunk driving accident may pursue a claim against the drunk driver to recover compensation for their injuries.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Any party in a Texas bicycle accident claim or other legal proceeding is required to preserve evidence relevant to that claim. Texas courts have held that a duty to preserve evidence arises when a party knows or reasonably should know “that there is a substantial chance that a claim will be filed and that evidence in its possession or control will be material and relevant to that claim.”bicycle

Spoliation of evidence is a failure to preserve evidence. If a party fails to preserve evidence, it can harm the opposing party’s ability to present or defend a claim. Therefore, if a party fails to reasonably preserve discoverable evidence, it is a serious issue with potentially drastic consequences.

Texas courts have discretion in addressing the issue of spoliation. In a Texas Supreme Court case, Brookshire Bros. v. Aldridge, the court held that the judge, rather than the jury, must decide whether a party spoliated evidence and then determine the appropriate remedy. Possible remedies include an instruction to the jury, an award of attorney’s fees, exclusion of evidence, and dismissal of a party’s claims.

Published on:

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a written opinion in a case involving a fatal Texas pedestrian accident, requiring the court to discuss the damages cap provision of the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA). Specifically, the court had to determine if the damages cap provision applies individually or cumulatively in cases involving several independent contractors. Ultimately, the court concluded that, when a contractor is performing an essential government function, the damages cap applies cumulatively to all defendants.

Bus AisleThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving daughter of a woman who was struck and killed by a public bus in Fort Worth. The bus was driven by a man who was employed by a company that was an independent contractor that provided drivers for Fort Worth’s public transportation system.

The plaintiff brought a Texas personal injury claim against several parties, including the driver, the driver’s employer, and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA). The FWTA is a regional transportation authority that provides for all of the public transportation needs of the city. The plaintiff claimed that each of the organizational defendants was vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Injury claims against Texas government entities can be complicated, since many agencies are protected by governmental immunity, precluding recovery in some situations. However, there are certain exceptions that can allow plaintiffs to successfully file a claim against a government entity.

GunpointIn a recent case before the Texas Supreme Court, a plaintiff brought a Texas personal injury claim against Harris County after she was shot by an off-duty officer in a road rage incident. The County argued that it was protected by governmental immunity, but the plaintiff argued that the claim fell under an exception because the officer was using a personal firearm. She alleged that the County’s use of tangible personal property caused her injuries. She argued the County’s use of tangible personal property was the County’s decision to hire the officer and to allow him to possess the gun as a firearm.

Governmental Immunity

Under Texas state law, governmental immunity protects political subdivisions of the state from legal liability. This includes counties, cities, and school districts. However, the Texas Tort Claims Act waives immunity for certain claims that would normally fall under the general grant of governmental immunity.

Continue reading →

Published on:

A win at trial is not always the end of the road for plaintiffs. Mistakes at trial can result in personal injury plaintiffs enduring a lengthy appeal process and, in some cases, even a new trial. In a recent case, the Texas Supreme Court ordered a new trial for a Texas medical malpractice plaintiff after the Court found the evidence presented at trial confused the jury.

SurgeryThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff had a laparoscopic-assisted vaginal hysterectomy (LAVH) to have her uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes removed. During the surgery, her bowel was punctured, which resulted in serious post-surgical consequences. The surgery was performed by her doctor and a resident.

Before the surgery, the plaintiff signed consent forms, which stated in part that her doctor would treat her, along with “such associates, technical assistants, and other health care providers as they may deem necessary.” It also stated that the physician might require other physicians, “including residents,” to perform tasks “based on their skill set” and under the responsible physician’s supervision. She testified, however, that she was not told that a resident would actually perform part of her surgery.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Filing a claim in one state rather than another may have a number of benefits for a Texas plaintiff, including convenience and more favorable laws. In a recent Texas Supreme Court decision, the court explained why a case arising from an accidental death in Mississippi could be filed in Texas.

TractorIn that case, a man was killed while he was repairing his tractor at his house in Mississippi. The tractor was sold in Mississippi, and the accident occurred in Mississippi, but the man’s son lived in Texas and filed a negligence and product liability claim against the tractor company in Texas. The company moved to dismiss the claim based on forum non conveniens. The company argued that Mississippi was a more convenient and appropriate forum to have the claim heard. The man’s estate was there, and there were other connections to the accident there, since the man lived in Mississippi, bought the tractor in Mississippi, and died in Mississippi.

Forum Non Conveniens

Forum non conveniens allows a court to decline jurisdiction if another more suitable forum exists that is more just and convenient. Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 71.051, a court can decline to exercise jurisdiction under the doctrine of forum non conveniens if it is “in the interest of justice and for the convenience of the parties.”

Continue reading →

Published on:

Unfortunately, Texas personal injury cases can take years to resolve, in some instances, and plaintiffs may not live to see the final disposition of their case. This can implicate a number of procedural rules and requirements in order to ensure that the right type of case is being brought and the proper damages are being sought. In a recent case before the Texas Supreme Court, the court explained why an award for future medical expenses should stand, although the plaintiff had died by the time the case reached the court.

StethescopeThe plaintiff was 37 weeks pregnant and receiving prenatal care from an ob/gyn when she came to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. She had seen her ob/gyn that morning for a routine visit and everything appeared normal. When she went to the hospital, the doctors discovered that the fetus had died due to placental abruption, and that the woman had developed disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a blood-clotting disorder.

The doctors ordered a blood-product replacement plan to counter her DIC. They decided that vaginal delivery was necessary and hoped that the DIC would correct itself after delivery.

Continue reading →

Published on:

  1. Property owners can try to evade liability in some personal injury cases by claiming that a contractor was at fault for an accident. However, even when a contractor is used, property owners may still be on the hook. In a recent case before a Texas appeals court, the court explained why a refinery could still be held liable after a contractor’s employee was injured while the contractor was completing repairs.

RefineryThe plaintiff, a supervisor, worked at a company that was providing maintenance and repairs at a refining facility in Texas. He was injured at work one day when hot liquid sprayed out of a pipe, causing him to suffer severe burns. A solution of raw bauxite dirt and sodium hydroxide called “process liquor” was being pumped through the pipes. Because the process liquor caused residue to build up in the pipes over time, the pipes had to be cleaned from time to time. Some employees were using a jackhammer to remove a deposit that had formed in a pipe when hot liquor sprayed out of the pipe and onto the employee.

The plainitff had to be airlifted to the hospital due to the severity of the burns. He alleged that the refinery was negligent in failing to ensure that the liquor was emptied from the pipe before allowing work to begin. The employer argued that the refinery was not liable for his injury under Chapter 95 of Texas’s Civil Practice and Remedies Code, because the work was being done by a contractor.

Published on:

Texas’s Supreme Court recently considered a Texas personal injury case in which the defendant attempted to name another individual as a responsible third-party after the statute of limitations governing the plaintiff’s claim had expired. The court had to determine if the defendant should be allowed to bring in the third-party, or if by waiting until after the statute of limitations expired resulted in the forfeiture of this right.

Statute of LimitationsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff sued a restaurant after she was injured when a television fell off the wall and hit her. During discovery, when the woman asked who installed the television, the restaurant stated that it was installed by a certain individual. However, the restaurant also stated that it believed the parties had been correctly named, did not name any other potentially parties, and stated that it would supplement its response with the name of a responsible third-party. The restaurant did not supplement its responses before the statute of limitations expired.

Two weeks after the statute of limitations had expired, the restaurant moved for leave to designate the individual as a responsible third-party and it supplemented its discovery responses. The plaintiff argued that it was too late for the defendant to designate another responsible party because the statute of limitations had expired and the defendant failed to timely disclose that the individual might be designated as a responsible third-party.

Continue reading →