Articles Posted in Automobile Accidents

Published on:

seatbeltIn a recent Texas appellate case, a plaintiff appealed the denial of her motion for a new trial after an adverse jury verdict. The plaintiff was a lawyer who was hurt in a car accident when her car was hit by the defendant’s car.

The plaintiff’s body and head were jerked forward, but the seatbelt held her back. She didn’t think she was hurt and continued her daily activities. Later in the day, she got a headache, and a doctor at an ER saw her. Since her primary complaints were a cough and back pain, she was diagnosed with an infection and back strain and prescribed pain meds.

Three weeks later, she saw a chiropractor. At the first visit, she completed a questionnaire showing she didn’t feel pain immediately after an accident. At the time of her visit, she had numerous pains, breathing difficulties, and headaches, and she was diagnosed with various types of sprains or strains. She was treated by the chiropractor for three months and referred for an MRI. Her knee didn’t show structural damage.

Continue reading →

Published on:

SUVIn Blevins v. Pepper-Lawson Construction, the plaintiff appealed after a jury awarded him $170,850 for injuries suffered when he hit a construction vehicle driven by an employee of a masonry company.

The case arose one evening when the plaintiff was driving near a high school under renovation. A subcontractor of Pepper-Lawson Construction was doing some masonry. The plaintiff tried to pass a car but instead hit the mason’s construction vehicle. He was hurt and sued Pepper-Lawson, the mason, and the driver of the construction vehicle.

At trial, he argued that the construction vehicle should not be driven on a public road without a road kit (headlights and tail lights), and there was a failure to warn. A witness testified at trial that she was driving in the same area, which was well lit. A motorcycle sped around her in the right lane, followed by the plaintiff’s truck, which was also speeding. She believed they were racing and stopped her car because she saw that the plaintiff was driving as if he didn’t see the construction vehicle and was going to hit it.

Continue reading →

Published on:

carIn Gonzalez v. Villafana, the plaintiff sued the defendants for damages suffered in a car crash with a car operated by Nestor Villafana but owned by Ramon Walle. The case arose when Walle, a muffler shop owner, visited a friend at his tire shop, hoping to talk about buying some land from the friend. Villafana was also a friend of the tire shop owner visiting the shop. Walle was in the shop for 30 minutes when his wife called to tell him about a customer at the muffler shop. Villafana asked for a ride to the muffler shop so that he could get a taco nearby.

Walle drove him. At the muffler shop, both men left the car, with Walle assuming Villafana would go get something to eat. Walle left his keys in the ignition. However, 30 minutes later, another friend called to tell him he’d seen his car in an accident. Villafana had been driving the car. Walle didn’t know the car was gone until he was informed about the accident.

The plaintiff sued Walle for negligent entrustment and Villafana for negligence. Walle filed for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion and severed the plaintiff’s claims against Walle from the claims against Villafana so that the judgment was final as to Walle.

Continue reading →

Published on:

old-pickup-1499793In Homman v. Kugler, a husband and wife involved in a single-vehicle accident sued a retail outlet and its owner, who was also the man who loaded their trailer. The plaintiff worked for David’s Patio, and on the day of the accident, he was driving a pickup and trailer for the defendant retail outlet to pick up angle irons. The owner of the retail outlet used a forklift to put the loan on the trailer. The plaintiff used only a single strap to secure the load and then drove back to his company.

The plaintiff started to get onto the freeway, but the trailer began swaying, pushed forward, and lifted the back wheels of the pickup. The pickup spun, balancing on two wheels on its side, and then the trailer broke off and rolled away. The pickup sat back down on its four wheels. The plaintiff wasn’t cited for the accident and did not see a doctor right away.

He went back home feeling sore. The next day, when he woke, he felt sore from his upper buttocks to his skull. He went to the doctor and was diagnosed with herniated and bulging discs. The doctor prescribed physical therapy and epidural steroid injections. He was also told he needed fusion surgery on his lower back, but he hadn’t gotten this surgery at the time of trial.

Continue reading →

Published on:

romania-highway-1469428In Texas Department of Transportation v. Kirk, the plaintiff sued several entities, including the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), to recover compensation for injuries suffered when he lost consciousness and control of his vehicle on Hwy. 277. Before crashing the car, he started to suffer dizziness and blurred vision. When he lost consciousness, his car left the road and hit a guardrail, some of which came through the passenger side, causing injuries.

Later, the plaintiff claimed that the end terminal of the guardrail had an ET-Plus design, which was developed and sold by various defendants, although not TxDOT. It had been designed so that it would absorb collision impact. The plaintiff also claimed other parties had altered the design so that it didn’t function in the same way.

TxDOT filed a motion for summary judgment and to dismiss, arguing it had sovereign immunity. The motion was denied, but the trial judge gave no reason why. TxDOT appealed.

Continue reading →

Published on:

traffic-light-1490891In Adams v. City of Dallas, the appellate court considered a car accident allegedly caused by a malfunctioning traffic light. The two people involved in the accident were Clinton Adams and Adeba Ghebrekidan. The latter sued the former and the City of Dallas. Adams counterclaimed against Ghebrekidan and cross-claimed against the City 20 days later.

The City claimed it wasn’t provided with timely written notice of Adams’ lawsuit, and it didn’t have the actual notice required by the Texas Tort Claims Act. The lower court dismissed Adams’ claims against the City.

Adams appealed. The appellate court explained that if the City had sovereign immunity from suit, the lower court would not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case. All plaintiffs bringing lawsuits against governmental entities are required to provide notice to the relevant entity in order to bring a valid lawsuit. Under Texas Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 101.101, a governmental entity is entitled to notice of a claim within six months of the day of the accident described in the claim. However, under § 101.101(c), the notice requirement doesn’t apply if the governmental entity has actual notice of the claimant’s injuries.

Continue reading →

Published on:

farm-field-views-1200640In Painter v. Sandridge Energy, Inc., a Texas appellate court considered the death of two oil field employees and injuries to a third oil field employee. The workers were doing drilling on behalf of their employer, Amerimex. Amerimex was hired by Sandridge, which had a lease to drill wells at a ranch. The contract described Amerimex as an independent contractor but specified that the crew worked under Sandridge’s control, supervision, and direction. Sandridge was obligated to pay bonuses to the Amerimex employees so that they wouldn’t be hired away by other drillers. Sandridge had an on-site supervisor who stayed in a trailer.

The accident happened after the workers’ shift while they were driving to a bunkhouse 30-40 miles away owned by Amerimex. There was no requirement that the workers live in the bunkhouse or ride with their crew leader to and from the drilling site, but since the crew leader was the only one with a car, they did drive to and from the bunkhouse with him every day. The crew worked in shifts of seven days on and seven days off. While driving, the crew leader ran into the back of another car. Two of the employees were killed, and another was injured. Later, the crew leader testified that nobody at Sandridge gave him any driving instructions.

The decedents’ relatives and the surviving employee sued the other driver in the crash, Amerimex, and Sandridge, the owner of the oil and gas lease. Their petition alleged that Sandridge was responsible for the crew leader’s actions because it gave a financial incentive to the crew leader to transport them in his car. They alternatively alleged the crew leader was the agent of Sandridge due to a transportation bonus, or that he was a “borrowed servant” of Sandridge.

Continue reading →

Published on:

overpass-1009382-mIn Brown and Gay Engineering, Inc. v. Zuleima Olivares, the Texas Supreme Court decided an important issue related to sovereign immunity in personal injury lawsuits. The case arose when a drunk driver entered the exit ramp of Westpark Tollway and drove east in the westbound lanes for eight miles before crashing into a driver. Both of them were killed. The part of the road where they died was under the control of the Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority, a local government corporation that was created to design and build it.

The Authority had contracted with the defendant, an engineering firm, in accord with Texas Transportation Code section 431.066(b). This code section allows local governments to retain an engineer to develop a transportation system or facility. The engineering firm was responsible for providing the necessary equipment and personnel and for obtaining insurance for the project.

The mother of the victim of the drunk driving accident sued the engineering firm and others, arguing that the failure to design proper signs and other devices near the exit ramp where the drunk driver entered had legally caused the victim’s death. The Authority filed a plea to the jurisdiction, claiming governmental immunity, which was denied by the trial court. The appellate court reversed, holding the Authority had sovereign immunity based on its discretionary acts related to traffic safety devices. When the case went back to the trial court, the plaintiff nonsuited the government.

Continue reading →

Published on:

old-car-1-248279-m.jpgTwo Texas residents recently died in a car accident near Wichita Falls. One was 23 years old, while the other would have been a 17-year-old high school senior at Maud High School.

The cause of the car accident is still under investigation, but the details appeared to be that the two were in a pickup truck pulling a trailer down U.S. 82, moving westbound, between Wichita Falls and Seymour. They were reportedly behind another pickup truck moving westbound, when a truck headed eastbound crossed the center line and stuck the first pickup truck before hitting theirs head-on. There was a curve along the highway that might have contributed to the accident. While the trailer from the first pickup truck ended up running off the road, there were no reported injuries from the first pickup truck. Meanwhile, the 23-year-old and 17-year-old died at the scene, as well as the driver of the truck that crossed the center line. A passenger from that truck caught on fire and was currently in the hospital in critical condition.

Students at Maud High School mourned the loss of both victims, for the 23-year-old was a 2009 graduate. This marked the third student death in the past two years. The 23-year-old was remembered for his love of football and for being an excellent player, while the 17-year-old was remembered for being quiet until people got to know her, and then revealing a very kind heart. Both were interested in race car driving and were reportedly on their way to pick up a race car when the accident occurred. There will be grief counselors available to help students through this difficult time.

Continue reading →

Published on:

crash-car-869866-m.jpgA mother and her two children were killed recently by a driver driving the wrong way in Kilgore, Texas. The driver may have been intoxicated at the time, and had previously been convicted of anther DWI.

The crash occurred early in the morning, on Loop 259 near Dudley Road. Police officers responding to a 911 call found the children, a five year old and a 12 year old, dead and their 43-year-old mother unconscious. Their father, who had been driving, was conscious, but dazed. The mother later died after being taken to a local hospital.

The Department of Public Safety determined that the series of events that led to the crash began when an oil field truck driven by 22-year-old Shelby Taylor was traveling southbound in the northbound lane near Gregg and Rusk County when it crashed into the victims’ van. The father attempted to swerve out of the way, but was unable to avoid the truck in time. It was unclear whether the mother and children were not wearing seat belts at the time, and had been sleeping in the back of the van.

Continue reading →