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One of the first considerations in a Texas car accident case is which of the parties involved should be named as defendants. This is an important decision for several reasons. First, failing to name a potentially liable party could result in the named defendants shifting blame onto the unnamed party. Second, given the low insurance requirements in Texas, an accident victim can very easily sustain more serious injuries than can be recovered under a single insurance policy.

Of course, only parties that were potentially negligent can be named in a Texas personal injury case. However, it is a common misconception that the at-fault driver is the only negligent party. In many cases, an at-fault driver was not the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident and was permitted to use the vehicle by a friend, family member, or employer. This is where the doctrine of negligent entrustment comes in.

The doctrine of negligent entrustment allows an injury victim to hold the owner of a vehicle liable for negligently allowing another person to use the vehicle. Under Texas case law, a plaintiff must be able to establish:

  • The owner entrusted the vehicle to the driver;
  • The driver was unlicensed, reckless, or incompetent;
  • The owner knew the driver was unlicensed, reckless, or incompetent;
  • The driver was negligent; and
  • The driver’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

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Any individual in Texas who operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated commits the offense of driving while intoxicated. This includes intoxication not only by alcohol, but also by illegal drugs and even prescription drugs, as long as the drugs have an intoxicating effect on the driver. If a driver is arrested for a Texas DWI, this evidence can be useful in a subsequent personal injury case against the driver.

Of course, as in any case, a plaintiff in a personal injury case must still prove each of the elements of the claim she is bringing. This means that a driver’s arrest and conviction for DWI does not necessarily result in the driver being found liable in a civil case. For example, in a Texas personal injury case, a plaintiff must prove all the elements of negligence, including that the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. This means proving both that the crash was a result of the defendant’s conduct and that the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. A defendant might argue that the plaintiff was at fault for the crash, or at least contributed to it, or that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the accident, among other defenses.

NTSB Finds Driver Was Impaired by Marijuana and Prescription Drugs in Fatal Texas Crash

A driver involved in a Texas car accident that left 13 people dead was under the influence of marijuana and prescription drugs, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). As one news source reported, the NTSB investigated the crash and recently released its findings. The NTSB found that the driver failed to control his pickup truck because he was impaired by marijuana and had misused prescription drugs.

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In some Texas car accident cases, one or more drivers involved in the accident may be issued a traffic citation, causing some to wonder what impact that could have on a subsequent personal injury claim. Under Texas law, a motor vehicle driver must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances presented. This means that the level of care that is required in ordinary circumstances may not be sufficient in other situations. For example, the reasonable care required may be different when it is raining or snowing, or while driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

If a driver is issued a citation for a traffic violation, some evidence concerning the violation may be able to be used in a Texas personal injury claim. If a driver violates a traffic law or similar statute, evidence of that violation may constitute negligence per se, or negligence as a matter of law. However, the violation of a statute does not always mean there will be a finding of negligence per se. If the court determines that the defendant was negligent per se, then the jury will be instructed that is the case and the only issues for the jury to determine are causation and damages.

Texas courts consider various factors in determining whether a violation of the statute constitutes per se liability, including whether the plaintiff’s injury is due to a direct or indirect violation of the statute, and whether the statute would impose liability without fault.

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Determining fault in a Texas car accident can be a very complex matter, depending on the surrounding circumstances. While some accidents involve few parties and present straightforward issues, other cases involve complex fact patterns that require judges and juries to consider and apply numerous legal doctrines.

One of the more common issues that can arise in a Texas personal injury lawsuit that may make the case more complicated is the presence of multiple parties, each of which shares some amount of fault in causing an accident. A common example of this type of case is a Texas chain reaction accident.

In these cases, Texas courts apply what is commonly known as the doctrine of comparative fault. In Texas, however, the doctrine is referred to as “proportionate liability.” Chapter 33 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code discusses proportionate liability and how it applies in Texas personal injury cases.

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All Texas personal injury cases must comply with procedural requirements. For example, under the statute of limitations, all claims must be filed within a specified period after an accident. This and other requirements help the court system efficiently deal with the large number of cases that are filed each year.

Due to the increasing number of Texas medical malpractice cases, some of which are ultimately determined to be without merit, lawmakers have determined that Texas medical malpractice cases are subject to additional procedural requirements. It is essential that all Texas medical malpractice plaintiffs understand the nature of their claims and the procedural requirements that they must follow because a plaintiff’s failure to follow the requirements can result in a plaintiff’s case being dismissed.

The Notice Requirement

Under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code section 74, a plaintiff must notify each of the named defendants of her intention to file a lawsuit at least 60 days before the claim is officially submitted. This notice must contain a signed authorization for the release of the plaintiff’s relevant medical records.

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A Texas appeals court recently issued an opinion providing guidance for Texas medical malpractice claimants on the requirements for expert reports submitted in accordance with the Texas Medical Liability Act.

According to the plaintiff, she went to the emergency room at a hospital in Southeast Texas in 2012 complaining of chest and back pain. The plaintiff went to the hospital six times over the next few weeks complaining of continued pain, as well as shortness of breath, shoulder pain, neck pain, weakness in her legs and difficulty walking, and loss of bowel and bladder control. It was not until she was transferred to another hospital that she was finally diagnosed with a compression fracture in her spine, which ultimately rendered her a paraplegic.

The plaintiff sued the hospital and two hospital physicians for negligence. She alleged that the hospital failed to recognize the signs of a spinal compression fracture and did not take into account her history of osteogenesis imperfecta, which resulted in a delay of treatment and caused her paraplegia. The claimant submitted expert reports, and the hospital argued that the report failed to meet the requirements for expert reports under the Texas Medical Liability Act. The trial court agreed and dismissed the claims against the hospital.

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Texas plaintiffs can have difficulty bringing claims against a governmental entity due to governmental immunity. However, there are many exceptions to governmental immunity that allow plaintiffs to bring claims against governmental entities. In a recent case before a Texas appeals court, the court upheld a claim against the Texas Department of Transportation after the plaintiff was involved in a car accident.

The plaintiff was driving a tractor-trailer on Highway 83 traveling toward Laredo. Another tractor-trailer stopped in front him, and he slowed and went onto the shoulder to avoid colliding with the tractor-trailer. The plaintiff hit an 8 ¾ inch drop-off between the shoulder and the ground. One of the truck’s tires went onto the ground and as the plaintiff tried to bring the tire back onto the shoulder, the tire popped, causing the tractor-trailer to tip over onto its side. The plaintiff brought a premises liability claim against the Texas Department of Transportation, but the Department argued that it was immune from suit. A jury found the Department was negligent, and the court awarded the plaintiff $250,000 in damages. The Department appealed the decision, arguing again it was immune from suit.

Governmental Immunity under Texas Law

Governmental immunity protects the political subdivisions of the state from suit, such as counties, cities, and school districts. A Texas governmental entity is normally immune from lawsuit unless specifically waived under Texas law. The plaintiff has the burden of showing how immunity has been waived. Governmental immunity is waived for certain claims under the Texas Tort Claims Act.

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Late last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Texas car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case against the defendant city should proceed toward trial over the city’s motion for summary judgment. In its motion, the city claimed it was entitled to government immunity because it did not have notice of the fallen stop sign that allegedly caused the accident in which the plaintiff was injured. Ultimately, the court rejected the city’s argument and denied its motion because there were disputed facts regarding the applicability of immunity in the case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when she was side-swiped while driving through an intersection in Houston. The plaintiff was traveling northbound at the time of the accident. At this specific intersection, traffic traveling in the east-west direction did not have a stop sign. There was a stop sign for both northbound and southbound traffic, which is where the dispute between the parties arose.

After the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city, claiming it was liable for her injuries because the stop sign for northbound traffic had been knocked over and was lying on the ground after the accident. The city claimed that the sign was not knocked down, and was visible at the time of the accident.

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Earlier this year, a company by the name of Lime was given permission to open its electric-scooter sharing operating in Dallas. The scooter-share program is similar to the ubiquitous bike shares that have opened up across the country, however, instead of bicycles, the company allows customers to rent motorized scooters.

The differences between the risks involved with riding a bicycle and a motorized scooter have resulted in many expressing hesitations. Residents protested the scooter share, arguing that it will result in an increased number of inexperienced operators, worsen the city’s already notorious traffic situation, and present additional risks to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Earlier this month, Dallas suffered its first fatal rental scooter crash. According to a local news report, the accident is being investigated as a single-vehicle crash, although the accident victim’s family believes that another vehicle was involved.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Texas car accident case discussing whether the plaintiff’s case against an allegedly negligent driver’s employer should proceed to trial where the accident occurred while the employee was not on-the-clock. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant employer’s no-evidence motion was properly granted because the plaintiff could not establish that the driver was acting in the performance of his duties as an employee of the defendant at the time of the accident.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured when a truck collided with his vehicle. The plaintiff initially filed a lawsuit against the driver, but later withdrew that case after filing a lawsuit against the driver’s employer. The plaintiff claimed that the employer was vicariously liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.

The evidence showed that the employee had recently left the work site for the day, and was giving a co-worker a ride back to his hotel. On the way back from the job site, the employee stopped to show his co-worker the site of a future job. As the employee turned into the future job site, he struck the plaintiff’s car. It was also established that the defendant paid for the employee’s gas.

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