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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/07/Screen-Shot-2021-07-19-at-12.33.10-PM-1024x730.pngTexas’ year-round warm climate combined with vast open spaces make the state home to an array of theme parks, amusement parks, and outdoor recreational parks. While these locations are a great place for couples and families to spend a day together, they also pose many risks to park-goers and employees. While serious injuries at a Texas amusement park are uncommon, they occur and can result in lifelong consequences.

For example, The New York Times recently reported on chemical exposure at a Texas amusement park. In late July, 26 people suffered exposure to bleach and sulfuric acid at a Six Flags amusement park. Park officials became aware of the incident when nearly 60 people began experiencing burning and breathing problems while in the shallow end of a children’s pool. Authorities evacuated the park and had the affected individuals wash their eyes under the fire truck’s hose. However, nearly half of the individuals were taken to the hospital, and one person remains in critical condition.

The children’s pool should maintain a pH balance of 7. However, testing revealed that the pool contained a combination of 35 percent sulfuric acid and approximately 12 percent bleach. While investigators do not believe the contamination was intentional, they are unsure how the event occurred. The chemicals found in the pool are the typical chemicals that the park uses every day to clean and sanitize the pool. However, they are investigating the system that injects the chemicals to determine whether the system malfunctioned. Safety logs indicated that safety officials inspected the park about three weeks before the incident. A County Judge closed down the park until the investigation is complete. Further, the Judge indicated that the park should have been recording the pH balance levels; however, they have yet to discover whether that log exists.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/04/Screen-Shot-2020-04-22-at-7.17.42-PM-150x150.pngThe Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion in a lawsuit against an insulation products company. According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiffs built a home in Texas and purchased products from a spray foam insulation company. The insulation was designed to make the home quieter and energy efficient by sealing areas where air loss occurs. Shortly after the installation, the family began suffering from various ailments, including coughing spells, burning eyes, allergies, and headaches. The company advised the family that the spray foam smell would dissipate over time. The company then sent an “independent contractor” sales representative to inspect the property; however, the family never received the inspection results.

In response, the family filed a lawsuit against the spray foam company, alleging various claims, including products liability and negligence. They argued that their injuries arose from the sale and installation of the spray foam used in their home. In response, the company contended that because the company never sold or advertised any of the products in Texas, the state did not have jurisdiction over the matter. Further, they argued that they did not have any involvement with the company that inspected the property. The appeals court agreed, finding that the plaintiffs failed to establish that Texas had either general or specific personal jurisdiction over the defendants.

Under Texas law, a court must have subject matter and personal jurisdiction over the parties to issue a judgment. Texas courts can assert personal jurisdiction over a nonresident if the state’s long-arm statute permits exercising jurisdiction and comports with federal due-process guarantees. Specific jurisdiction applies when the defendant’s contact with the state is purposeful, and the cause of action arises from those contacts.

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pexels-moose-photos-1029896-300x200CANCER CAUSING BENZENE FOUND IN SUNSCREENS LINKED TO HIGHER RISK–KILLER TAN CAN BE DEADLY – 40 SUNSCREEN BRANDS RECALLED

July 17, 2021, San Antonio, Texas:  Sunscreen products have been pulled from shelves across the country after they were found to contain significant amounts of benzene, a known carcinogen.  Experts say any benzene exposure poses a health risk. Benzene has been linked to increased cancer risk since and had five times higher than normal risk of leukemia.

“There’s no such thing as a safe level of exposure, and that’s especially true for children,” said Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/05/Screen-Shot-2020-05-04-at-9.59.08-AM-150x150.pngThe Supreme Court of Texas recently delivered an opinion addressing whether the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) has jurisdiction over a negligence case involving a good Samaritan. Here, the deceased was electrocuted while trying to help victims of a crash that caused a power line to fall. The good Samaritan’s estate and family filed a negligence lawsuit against the power line company, arguing that they were negligent in their duty to design, construct, operate, and maintain its electricity system. They asserted that the company failed to ensure that they would de-energize portions of the distribution lines when they experience faults.

The accident occurred when one vehicle ran a red light and hit a wooden utility pole maintained by the company. The man was driving past the scene when he stopped to help the accident victims. As he was walking, the man came into contact with electricity radiating through the ground. The shock knocked him to the ground and his clothes caught on fire; tragically, he passed away three weeks later from his injuries.

In response, the power company filed a plea arguing that Texas’ PUC maintains jurisdiction over the case. In support of their claim, the power company argued that PUC has exclusive jurisdiction over an electric company’s utility rates, operations, and services, extends to adjudicating whether a company complied with the law. The defendants argued that the plaintiffs’ complaints bring up fundamental questions about how a power company maintains its distribution systems. The plaintiffs argued that the case falls under the Texas Estates Code, and the probate court has jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/07/Screen-Shot-2021-07-12-at-11.36.51-AM.pngHot air balloon rides and other similar in-air recreation activities are a unique and thrilling experience for many participants. While these excursions provide the public with a special vantage point, there are inherent risks in participating in these activities. Texas hot air balloon accidents can pose many challenges to victims and their loved ones. The public is urging lawmakers to push for more protections for balloon riders. This push stems from the Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to implement regulatory changes following a devastating 2016 hot air balloon accident.

A recent investigative news report highlighted the frustration the Texas hot air balloon accident victims’ families are experiencing nearly five years after the accident. A woman lost her daughter and granddaughter in a hot air balloon accident in 2016. According to reports, the women were two of the 16 people who died when the hot air balloon flew into a power line. The hot air balloon pilot had reportedly taken a combination of various prescription medications before the flight. The woman is working with lawmakers on legislation that would require commercial balloon operators to take medical and physical exams before licensure. However, as the fifth anniversary of the accident passed, the Federal Aviation Administration is yet to implement any of the rules or regulations. However, even with oversight, hot air balloons continue to pose serious risks to operators and passengers. Recently, five people died in a New Mexico hot air balloon accident. The hot air balloon hit a power line and separated the balloon from the gondola where the passengers stand.

Despite regulations, hot air balloons continue to pose significant risks to passengers. There have been about 20 hot air balloon accidents every year and about 26 fatalities in the last twenty years. Although hot air balloon fatalities seem low, the statistics should be looked at relative to the number of people who ride these vessels. There are many reasons these accidents occur, and the majority involve some degree of negligence. The leading causes of hot air balloon accidents are:

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/07/Screen-Shot-2021-07-02-at-9.08.29-AM-300x163.pngWhile some car accidents seem straightforward, upon investigation, most cases contain various factors that may impact liability and financial recovery. Most Texas motor vehicle accidents involve negligence or recklessness. However, while specific actions may seem “negligent,” Texas law has a precise definition of what amounts to legal negligence. Even if an injury victim can establish the other party’s negligence, they might still need to refute any claims of contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence and comparative fault are two approaches to liability in a Texas personal injury accident claim. Many accidents involve more than one reason or set of circumstances that led to the accident. There are various contributory negligence and comparative negligence theories that impact recovery. Texas courts use the “modified comparative negligence” laws to determine liability and subsequent recovery. Under this system, a plaintiff that is more than 51% responsible for an accident cannot recover compensation.

In light of the state’s comparative negligence laws, insurance companies will go to great lengths to refute a victim’s claim and reduce their compensation. In some cases, insurance companies and defendants will provide significant evidence to establish the victim’s liability. For instance, a recent Texas accident highlights a situation where a defendant may claim that the victim was negligent. In that case, a 73-year-old man suffered fatal injuries in a car accident. According to police, the man was in the process of picking up an item that fell out of his truck when he got hit by a Jeep. At the time of the report, the police did not issue any citations.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/06/Screen-Shot-2021-06-23-at-4.18.35-PM-251x300.pngVarious state and federal agencies regulate the safety of infant and baby products. While these agencies possess the power to administer and enforce federal safety laws, many dangerous products continue to make their way into the consumer stream. Every year infants and children in Texas experience exposure to dangerous and potentially life-threatening products. When this occurs, family members should consider filing a Texas product liability claim against the defective product’s manufacturer or retailer.

For instance, Fisher-Price is once again recalling one of its most popular infant products. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission received reports citing the Rock n’ Glide Sleeper as the cause of four infants’ deaths. In each of the cases, the infants were placed unrestrained on their backs in the sleeper but were later found unresponsive on their stomachs. The deaths included infants ranging from 11 weeks to 4 months old. The current recall comes after a similar situation in 2019, in which the company agreed to recall its Rock’ n Play sleeper after several babies suffocated after rolling to their stomachs in the device.

Texas product liability lawsuits generally fall under one or more of the three types of defective product claims. The claims generally stem from design defects, failure to warn claims or manufacturing defects. Design defect claims apply when a product’s defective design poses a danger to the user. Claimants in these cases must establish that the company could have used a less dangerous design, the alternative design would not pose an unreasonable financial burden, and the alternative design would have maintained the product’s purpose and use. Failure to warn claims applies when a product poses an unreasonable danger even when used according to its directions. Finally, manufacturing defects claim that the product is defective because of an error that occurred during production.

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CS-San-Antonio-9-300x300The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion finding that a trial court abused its discretion in denying a defendant’s discovery request. The case arose after the plaintiff suffered injuries in a Texas car accident with a tractor-trailer driven by the defendant’s employee. After the accident, the parties took photos, exchanged identifying information, and drove away without reporting injuries. A few days after the accident, the plaintiff sought medical treatment and underwent several surgeries on his spine and shoulder. His medical providers charged him over one million dollars for the surgeries and treatment. The plaintiff did not pay for the care. His attorneys notified the healthcare providers that they would protect the healthcare providers’ interest if they settled the underlying personal injury lawsuit. However, they specified the settlement would only include reasonable and necessary medical charges.

During the trial, the defendants served subpoenas on the plaintiff’s healthcare providers. Specifically, they wanted information related to the providers’ billing practices and rates. Three of the providers filed motions to quash the subpoenas, and the trial court granted the motions. The defendant narrowed the requests, but the healthcare providers responded that the narrowed requests contained the same defects.

Under the rules of evidence, evidence is “relevant” if it has “any tendency” to make a fact more or less probable. For pre-trial discovery, evidence that may not be admissible at trial may still be permitted, so long as it’s “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” In the context of personal injury lawsuits, medical records and bills reasonably related to a party’s injuries or damages are typically relevant.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/05/Screen-Shot-2020-05-04-at-9.59.08-AM-300x298.pngThe Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion in a premises liability case involving teenage church volunteers who suffered injuries in a fire. The church hosted an annual festival featuring rides, games, music, and vendors—the church profits from the festival from receiving a portion of the sales from vendors and sales. The 4-H Leaders Association (4-H) rented a booth at the festival to sell various food items. 4-H paid the church to rent the booth, but the church did not receive any profits from the booth’s sales. According to the record, a fire broke out in the booth, and five volunteers, four of whom were teenagers, suffered injuries in the fire.

The trial primarily hinged on the cause of the fire, the plaintiffs arguing that it stemmed from a defective propane tank, while 4-H and the church argued that it was from one of the volunteers spilling ice into a fryer. The trial court found in favor of the defendants, and the appellate court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The appellate court found that the plaintiffs did not have a claim against 4-H but remanded the case against the church for a new trial.

Under Texas law, a property owner or occupier’s duty to someone on their property depends on the person’s status. Typically, property owners owe invitees a duty to “exercise reasonable care to protect against unreasonable risk of harm,” that the owner knew or should have known through reasonable diligence. Texas property owners owe licensees a lesser duty to use ordinary care to warn of or make a dangerous condition, that the owner knows of, safe.

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collection-of-construction-safety-helmet-38070-300x197The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued a decision following a petition from review from the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District. The court was tasked with determining whether a general contractor on a construction project owed a duty of care to a subcontractor’s employee who suffered injuries on the job. The general contractor hired a subcontractor to erect a concrete tower. The victim, an employee of the subcontractor, suffered injuries when the tower detached and fell on his legs. The victim filed a lawsuit against the general contractor alleging negligence and gross negligence. He argued that the defendant had contractual and actual control over the subcontractor’s work and thus owed the victim a duty of care. The trial court found in the defendant’s favor, and the court of appeals reversed.

On petition to the Supreme Court of Texas, the defendant argued that it did not owe the victim a duty of care. Generally, under Texas law, an entity that employs an independent contractor does not maintain a duty to ensure that the subcontractor performs its work safely. However, an exception applies when the contractor maintains some level of control over the way the contractor performs the work that caused the damage. The element of control must relate to the activity or condition that caused the injury. Further, the control must extend to the “means, methods, or details” of the independent subcontractor’s work.

In this case, the defendant argued that it did not have actual control over the subcontractor. It cited testimony where the subcontractor’s superintendent stated that the contractor did not instruct any of the subcontractor’s employees and no one from the contracting company told him how to install the tower or its braces. In response, the plaintiff argued that the contracting company asserted actual control by having someone on-site every day to inspect for safety. Additionally, someone from the company was there to inspect on the day of the accident, and the company was aware that the towers were not appropriately braced for wind. However, the court found no evidence that the contracting company exercised control over the subcontractor’s work. Further, the court reasoned that the courts have not recognized the presence of a safety employee as enough to give rise to actual control.

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