Published on:

Earlier this month, a deadly car crash in Spring, Texas, sent four individuals to the hospital, one of whom tragically died shortly after arrival. According to a local news report covering the accident, the two vehicles involved were driving opposite ways on a street at around 10 o’clock in the evening. One of the vehicles, an Infiniti coupe driving eastbound, failed to stay in their appropriate lane and drifted over the center turn lane, ultimately striking the westbound pick-up truck head-on.

Emergency officials responded quickly to the accident, and all the occupants were sent to the hospital. In the worst condition were those in the Infiniti coupe that had crossed lanes; the passenger was transported to the hospital via helicopter in critical condition, but ultimately died. The at-fault driver was taken to the hospital in serious condition where he underwent surgery. The couple in the pick-up truck, on the other hand, were fortunately in stable condition when they were brought to the hospital, although they likely still experienced injuries. Police reported that they suspect the driver of the Infiniti coupe was under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident, adding another tragic layer to this accident.

While many accidents are unavoidable, drivers have a duty to drive carefully and to take steps to avoid risk factors that contribute to an accident. This duty includes not driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Intoxicated driving is incredibly dangerous, and places all those on the road with the driver in danger. Texas law allows individuals injured in a car accident to submit a claim to recover monetary compensation from another driver if that driver failed to operate their vehicle with due care —by driving under the influence, for instance. Even if the victims did not undergo major surgeries and were in stable condition after the accident, as is the case in the tragic accident discussed above, smaller injuries resulting from car crashes can plague accident victims for years. Too many of these victims do not consider pursuing claims against the driver at fault because of misinformation they receive from insurance companies or other biased sources. Texas accident victims are encouraged to consult with a Texas personal injury attorney, who can help them figure out if they have a claim for compensation.

Published on:

Despite harsher laws and awareness campaigns, impaired driving continues to be a problem in Texas and throughout the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every day, 29 people die in drunk driving crashes in the United States. The CDC also reports that the percentage of adults who reported driving after drinking too much was higher in Texas than nationally. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2018, there were 4,986 Texas drunk driving accidents, and 1,228 crashes caused in part by drivers under the influence of drugs.

Under Texas law, a person can be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Yet, a person can still be driving while intoxicated even under that BAC if the person’s driving is impaired, whether from alcohol or other drugs. The criminal penalties can be up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, among other penalties. In addition, commercial drivers can be charged with a .04% BAC, and those under 21 can be charged for any amount of alcohol.

Individuals who are injured in a drunk driving crash can bring a legal claim against a drunk driver to recover financial compensation. Evidence that a driver was driving while intoxicated, including being arrested for DWI, may be used in a civil claim against the driver. However, an accident victim still must prove that the defendant’s conduct was the legal and factual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. A drunk driver may still try to blame the plaintiff for the crash, or argue that some or all of the plaintiff’s injuries were not a result of the crash.

Published on:

When a Texas minor child engages in negligent or reckless behavior resulting in personal injury or property damage, the child’s parents may be responsible. The Texas Family Code, section 41 (the code), details parental responsibility in instances where a child causes property damage. Under the code, the parent or guardian of a Texas minor face liability if their child causes property damage to another in two instances. First, if the child’s negligent behavior was because of the negligence of the parent. This part of the code applies regardless of the child’s age, as long as they are under 18 years old. Second, if the child is between 10 and 18 years-old and willfully and maliciously caused the damage. To apply this section of the statute, the plaintiff needs to establish that the child had a purpose or intent to cause the accident. There are limits on the damages a Texas plaintiff can receive in these situations. A Texas plaintiff can receive actual damages up to $25,000 per occurrence, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.

Parents can still be liable even if their situation does not fall squarely within the Texas statute. Under Texas common law, parents can still face liability for injuries that are a result of their child’s willful, malicious, or negligent behavior. Texas injury victims can file personal injury lawsuits against the parent of a child based on parental negligence. Parental negligence claims often occur in instances where a parent knows that their child is inclined to engage in careless or reckless behavior but fails to take steps to prevent the behavior.

There are various situations where a parent or guardian may face independent liability or vicarious liability based on their child’s behavior. For example, according to a recent news report, a Texas father faced criminal charges after he allowed his 12-year-old daughter to drive his car. In this case, the father let his daughter drive his vehicle even though she was underage, and there was a toddler in the backseat. The daughter accelerated too quickly and ran over a man and his dogs in their apartment complex. Tragically, the man and his dog died instantly. Initially, the father told police officials that he was driving the car, but video footage revealed that his daughter was the driver. She admitted that her father was teaching her how to drive. In addition to criminal charges, the father may face civil liability for the deaths as well.

Published on:

The success of a Texas personal injury lawsuit relies heavily on the evidence that the parties present. A plaintiff that fails to present evidence establishing the defendant’s negligence is unlikely to receive damages for their injuries. In some instances, plaintiffs are unable to present compelling and relevant proof because the evidence is unavailable. When dealing with potentially relevant evidence, both parties have a duty to ensure that such evidence is preserved and available for trial.

Spoliation occurs when a party fails to preserve or destroys relevant evidence. Trial courts must remedy such conduct because spoliation deprives the fact finder of critical evidence. Some common behaviors that may lead to spoliation are when the offending party destroys video footage, forges or alters safety documents, or tampers with witness statements.

Although Texas does not identify a specific tort for spoliation, the offending party may face other sanctions, including a spoliation jury instruction. In Texas, a judge may give the jury an instruction to make an adverse inference against the offending party. Courts have recognized that a spoliation instruction may unfairly impact a jury’s verdict. In response, the Supreme Court of Texas clarified how to address claims of spoliation and impose remedies.

Published on:

Car accidents often result in accident victims sustaining major injuries, necessitating significant and ongoing medical treatment. Given the escalating costs of medical care, this treatment is incredibly expensive, and often reaches tens of thousands of dollars, even for what may initially seem to be minor injuries. Of course, most motorists who cause an accident do not have that kind of money available to compensate an accident victim. Thus, the availability of insurance is a critical component of almost all Texas car accident cases.

In Texas, all motorists are required to maintain insurance on their vehicles. There are several types of Texas car insurance; however, only some are required by law. Texas motorists must obtain the following coverage:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident
Published on:

A Texas appeals court recently issued an opinion addressing whether pharmacies owe third parties a duty of care when an accident occurs because of a pharmacy’s negligence. Two sets of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against a Texas Walgreens after they negligently gave a customer the wrong prescription. Evidently, Walgreens gave the customer a diabetes medication that can cause a drop in blood pressure, which is often associated with behavioral changes and cognitive impairments. The customer was on the drug when he began driving erratically and caused a fatal Texas car accident. The customer’s son settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Walgreens. The two other victims’ representatives sued Walgreens, alleging that the pharmacy was negligent under third party liability and negligence per se. Walgreens moved to dismiss the case, arguing that pharmacies do not owe third parties a duty of care and that negligence per se does not apply. The lower court found in favor of Walgreens, and the plaintiffs appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.

Generally, under Texas law, pharmacy malpractice is a type of medical malpractice that occurs because of a negligent pharmacist or pharmacy technician. Texas pharmacy errors can have severe and even fatal consequences. Pharmacy errors can cause overdoses, congenital disabilities, allergic reactions, and even death. This can occur when a pharmacy provides a patient with the wrong prescription, fills an incorrect dosage, or fails to provide counseling. When the injury victim is the pharmacy’s customer, establishing liability is relatively straight-forward. Challenges arise in cases where the victim is a third-party that suffered injuries by another party that acted negligently because of a pharmacy error.

Generally, under Texas law, healthcare providers are not liable to a third-party non-patient when that person suffers injuries because of the misdiagnosis or treatment of the healthcare provider’s patient. Typically, pharmacists fall under the purview of healthcare providers; however, there are some instances, such as merely filing an existing prescription, that do not rise to the level of a healthcare provider.

Published on:

When an individual is injured in a Texas car accident, they can incur serious financial costs as a result of doctor’s visits, lost wages, and surgeries. In a perfect world, the victim will receive monetary compensation for their injuries if they were caused by another person’s negligence, either from the at-fault party or from their insurance company. However, sometimes, the costs incurred from an accident are far more than the at-fault driver can cover, especially if they are uninsured or underinsured.

Unfortunately, it is estimated that over 2 million drivers do not have any liability insurance, although Texas requires it for all drivers. Under Texas car insurance law, insurance companies are required to offer drivers uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, also known as UM and UIM. This coverage protects individuals who are injured in an accident where the responsible party either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to fully cover the damage. However, the amount an individual receives from UM/UIM coverage depends on the coverage limit, and there may still be times when this is still not enough to cover all of the costs of an accident.

Texas law allows accident victims in some cases to “stack” their UM/UIM limits from separate policies if they have coverage on more than one vehicle. For example, a family may decide to purchase UM/UIM insurance for two vehicles with coverage of up to $25,000 per vehicle. If one family member is injured in a crash with a negligent uninsured or underinsured driver, resulting in medical bills of $50,000, their UM/UIM coverage will only cover half of that. However, if the insurance policies allow stacking, the coverage from the second, uninvolved vehicle could also be used, adding an additional $25,000 to fully cover the $50,000 in damage. This can only happen if the two vehicles are covered under separate policies, however, rather than one.

Published on:

The Supreme Court of Texas recently released an opinion addressing the state’s recreational use statute (RUS) and governmental immunity laws after a plaintiff sued the University of Texas at Austin for negligence. The plaintiff filed a personal injury claim against the University after an employee struck her with a University-owned car while she was riding her bike. The woman suffered various injuries, including bruises, fractures, and facial cuts. The employee admitted that his view was partially blocked, and he failed to see the biker. However, the school argued that it was not liable based on the RUS and Tort Claims Act (TCA).

Historically, citizens could not sue governmental entities for any injuries they suffered because of the government or their agent’s negligence. However, the TCA partially waives Texas’s sovereign immunity in specific cases. The TCA allows individuals to sue governmental agencies if, the government employee was acting within the scope of their employment, the claim was filed within the statute of limitations, and the at-fault party was not acting in response to an emergency.

The RUS provides that landowners who make their property available for recreational use owe only a limited duty of care to those who use their land. Property owners in these cases must only refrain from acting grossly negligently or intentionally injuring people who use their land for recreational use. Texas broadly defines “recreational use,” as any activity that is related to “enjoying the outdoors.” This includes activities such as, camping, biking, water activities, hunting, fishing, using a swing set, and golfing. Landowners can only assert this defense if they do not charge a fee or if they meet specific monetary guidelines. If a landowner charges a fee, they cannot benefit from the RUS unless the total payments they collected the previous year were less than 20 times the property tax. In instances where the RUS intersects with the TCA, plaintiffs must establish that the governmental entity was grossly negligent, acted maliciously, or in bad faith.

Published on:

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.

Published on:

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.