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Appellate Court Addresses Bystander Law in Texas Car Accident Case

administration-agreement-banking-blur-618158A Texas appeals court recently issued an opinion stemming from injuries that a passenger suffered when a car he was traveling in collided with a trailer parked on the side of the road. According to the court’s opinion, the accident occurred when a young man’s pickup truck with an attached trailer experienced an electrical failure. The young man pulled over onto the side of the road, but could not turn on any of the vehicle’s lights because of the electrical issue.

Another man who was driving his employer’s truck noticed that the young man needed assistance and agreed to jumpstart his pickup truck. The good samaritan drove to the top of a hill and parked in the opposite direction so that the two vehicles’ hoods were face to face. The man did not take out his triangle lights, but he did provide the pickup truck driver with a flashlight as he attempted to jumpstart the car. The pickup truck would not start, so the man decided to tow the pickup truck, and he waited on the side of the road until an oncoming vehicle passed. As he was waiting, the driver veered and slammed into the pickup truck’s trailer, causing the samaritan serious injuries.

The passenger in the vehicle that struck the pick-up truck filed lawsuits against several parties, including the driver of the car he was in, the pickup truck driver, the good samaritan, and his employer. Amongst other issues, he alleged that the good samaritan and his employer were negligent in failing to warn the public of the disabled vehicle.

In Texas negligence cases, plaintiffs must meet a threshold finding that the defendant owed them a duty. In this case, the plaintiff contended that the defendants owed him a duty to put up flags and the triangle light, and communicate potential danger to other motorists. In this case, the court looked at several factors to assess whether the law imposed a duty on these defendants. The court considered the risk, foreseeability, and likelihood of injury caused by the defendant’s conduct and weighed that against the potential burden to lessen the risks. Typically, defendants assume a duty of care to plaintiffs to warn and remedy any hazardous condition he creates. However, a bystander is not obligated to prevent injury if they did not create the situation that caused the accident.

Here, the court found that the passenger’s car hit the pickup truck’s trailer, and therefore the man’s actions or vehicle did not create a dangerous condition. Further, the law imposes liability on individuals who render assistance if their assistance increased the likelihood of harm or the plaintiff suffers harm because they relied on the defendant’s undertaking of the services. Ultimately the court found that the plaintiff did not overcome their evidentiary burden to defeat summary judgment because the defendants did not create, exacerbate, or contribute the plaintiff’s injuries.

Have You Been Involved in a Texas Car Accident?

Texas car accident cases are rarely as straightforward as they may seem. Those injured, or those who have family members who have been injured, should contact the experienced attorneys at Carabin Shaw. The attorneys at our law firm possess the unique skills and experience that complex Texas personal injury lawsuits require. Our law firm has access to invaluable resources that can assist plaintiffs in successfully presenting their cases and recovering for their losses. Our lawyers have successfully recovered substantial amounts of compensation on behalf of our clients and continue to fight on behalf of Texas injury victims every day. Contact our office at 800-862-1260 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.