When a plaintiff brings a Texas personal injury case following a motorcycle accident, various types of evidence are often discussed during the case. Plaintiffs will face all kinds of questions designed to reduce a defendant’s liability. Was either of the parties under the influence of any kind of substance? Did the weather cause slippery or dangerous conditions? Was the victim taking all the necessary safety precautions and wearing a helmet?
In a landmark Texas Supreme Court opinion, the court overturned 40 years of precedent and reversed rules that previously precluded evidence involving a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seat belt. Previously, the court had held that such evidence was inadmissible because it would reduce a claimant’s ability to recover for the injuries they sustained in an accident based on actions that did not contribute to the accident. However, in a change of heart, the court decided that evidence of use or non-use of seat belts would now be admissible for the purpose of apportioning liability in such claims.
Upon further analysis, the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion does not simply or only extend to seat belts. It held that relevant evidence of use or non-use of seat belts, and relevant evidence of the claimant’s pre-occurrence, injury-causing conduct is admissible. Because of the broad nature of pre-occurrence, injury-causing conduct, attorneys may now have the opportunity to submit evidence that motorcycle accident victims suing for damages in civil lawsuits were not taking full safety precautions by choosing not to wear a helmet.
With the millions of visitors that throng to water parks each year, it is a statistical inevitability that accidents are destined to occur. Fractured bones, neck and back injuries, water-borne diseases, and even death are the type of injuries and tragedies that can unfold in the twinkling of an eye at these popular amusement places.
When water park mishaps or drownings take place, the injured victim or parent or guardian of an injured loved one can pursue compensation through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. Yet the process of determining just who is to blame for such water park accidents can be challenging because of the many legal complexities surrounding these water park accidents.
Water Park Accident Liability – Who is Responsible?
Week of April 27, 2020: Houston Area – Three little boys under the age of five drowned or near drowned over the course of three days in the Houston area this week. On Monday, a 4-year-old boy drowned in a northeast Harris County apartment pool. Authorities stated that he got away from his family and fell in a pool at an apartment complex in northeast Harris County.
According to authorities, the incident happened just before 6 p.m. Monday at the Timber Ridge Apartments on Aldine Bender near Surles Drive.
According to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, the 4-year-old was supposed to be in the care of his family when he wandered away from the apartment and managed to get into the pool area.
Each year Spring Break revelers and vacationing hotel guests wind up in the Emergency Room for preventable reasons. The lawyers at Carabin Shaw, specialize in Swimming Pool Safety and Traumatic Brain Injury cases, here are suggestions for a Safer Spring Break.
- Don’t drink and dive. Nearly 70% of water-related deaths among teens and adults involve alcohol, especially diving injuries. It’s better to save the alcoholic beverages until after the pool, beach and water activities are over because alcohol affects your judgment and coordination.
(HOUSTON, January 27, 2020) Two people were killed in a gas explosion in northwest Houston at a manufacturing warehouse on Friday the 25 at around 4:30 a.m. After the explosion the Houston Fire Department reported that 48 people had to be sheltered and 18 people were sent to local emergency rooms for injuries.
In the recent case West Star Transportation Inc. v. Robison, a Texas appellate court considered a personal injury case in which the defendant appealed a judgment for the plaintiffs for damages totaling more than $5 million. The plaintiff had suffered a traumatic head injury after falling headfirst from a flatbed trailer that he was trying to cover in the shipping yard of the defendant, a company that was his employer. The defendant was a nonsubscriber under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act.
The load was an uneven load that included crates of different heights, and it was 13 feet off the ground at its highest point. The defendant didn’t own the equipment needed to complete the task. A tarpaulin that weighed 150 pounds had to be placed at the highest point using a forklift. The plaintiff was also lifted to that point. The reason for the fall was unclear, but he fell while he was standing on the surface of a load, and because of the fall he suffered a traumatic brain injury.
The plaintiff and his wife sued, alleging that the defendant was negligent for failing to give the plaintiff a reasonably safe workplace. The plaintiffs offered to settle their claims to the limits of the defendant’s insurance policy via letters. The defendant tried to accept the settlement offer orally and via letter after the deadline passed. The plaintiffs believed the deadline had passed and rejected the offer in the letter. The defendant filed an amended answer and counterclaim, alleging that the case was settled.
According to the October 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, falls and car accidents are responsible for most cases of minor traumatic brain injuries (“mTBI”). Notably, however, another leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (both minor and severe) is sports and recreational activities. In fact, although infrequent, the leading cause of death from sports-related injuries is traumatic brain injury (“TBI”). Furthermore, sports-and recreational activities contribute to approximately 21% of all TBIs among children and teens.
A traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal of function of the brain. While mTBIs may result in a concussion without loss of consciousness, more severe traumatic brain injuries can result in extended period unconsciousness, coma, and death. Unfortunately, throughout the beginning of the 21st century, the incidents of TBIs in minors have continued to increase.
According to a report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), from 2001 to 2009, the number of sports and recreation-related emergency room visits for TBI among persons aged 19 and younger increased 62%. In addition, the CDC reports that each year U.S. emergency departments treat an estimated 173,285 sports and recreation related TBIs. Additionally, more recently, a study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital published on September 30, 2013, showed a 92% increase in pediatric visits to their hospital’s emergency rooms for sports-related traumatic brain injury from 2002 to 2011.
Overall, the activities associated with the most TBI-related emergency room visits include bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball and soccer.
As a result of the increase of TBIs amongst adolescents participating in sports and recreation, many states, schools, and sports leagues and organizations have created policies or action plans on concussions in youth and high school sports. In Texas, for instance, in 2011, the State legislature passed HB 2038 relating to the treatment, prevention, and oversight of concussions affecting public school students participating in interscholastic athletics. The law requires the following:
• The governing body of each school district and open-enrollment charter school with students enrolled who participate in sports appoint or approve a concussion oversight team;
• Parents or guardians of student athletes must sign a form that acknowledges receiving and reading written information that explains among other things, concussion prevention, symptoms, treatment, and guidelines for safely resuming participation in an athletic activity following a concussion; and
• Student athletes are to removed from practice or competition immediately if they are believed to have sustained a concussion during practice or competition, and the student may not be permitted to return until evaluated by a physician.
The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) marked Brain Injury Awareness Month this March. The purpose of Brain Injury Awareness Month is to promote early and equal access to care for all individuals suffering from a brain injury and promote brain injury awareness across the United States. It is important to remember that a brain injury can occur anytime, anywhere, and can happen to anyone.
The BIAA defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a “blow, jolt or bump to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” TBIs frequently require expert trauma care, specialized rehabilitation and lifelong disease management.
Statistics and Facts about Brain Injuries
According to the BIAA, approximately 1.7 million Americans sustain a brain injury each year. In fact, TBI is the leading cause of death and disability among children and young adults, and it is the fourth leading cause of death overall. Indeed, in Texas alone, more than 144,000 Texans sustain a TBI each year. In addition, excluding veterans and military service members, more than 5,700 Texans are permanently disabled every year from a TBI, and approximately 440,000 Texans (2% of the state population) live with a disability caused by a TBI. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) estimates that TBI rates are higher for males than females in every single age group, and children aged 0 to 4, young adults aged 15 to 19, and adults aged 65 years and older sustain more TBIs than other age groups.
Unfortunately, per the Texas Brain Injury Alliance, less than 1 in 20 people with a TBI will receive the rehabilitation they need. At the same time, high incidences of TBIs can be costly for individuals, their families, and the nation as a whole. Specifically, direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $76.5 billion in the United States in 2000.
While falls are the leading cause of a TBI for individuals 65 and older, transportation-related injuries are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among those individuals younger than 64. Notably, more than 50% of all motor vehicle accidents resulting in traumatic brain injuries involve alcohol. It is also worth noting here that these numbers do not take into account the incidence of certain types of brain injuries, such as stroke, infectious disease, aneurysms, seizures, and toxic exposure.
Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries for High Risk Groups
Each year, one out of three adults ages 65 and over falls. These falls can lead to moderate to severe head trauma. To reduce the chance of falling and suffering a TBI, the CDC recommends that older adults:
• Exercise regularly;
• Ask their doctors to review all of their medicine (both prescription and over-the- counter) to identify medicine that may cause drowsiness and/or dizziness;
• Have their eyes checked at least once a year; and
• Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding railings, and increasing light.
Recently, many news reports have focused on the long-term effects that concussions may have had on professional athletes. For example, a number of former National Football League players are currently suing the organization over health complications allegedly related to brain injuries they sustained while playing professional football. The short-term effects of concussions and other brain trauma on children and teens who engage in contact sports have also been reported on in the news to varying degrees. Now, researchers are also beginning to study the long-term effects of a brain injury on recreational athletes.
In May, researchers from the University of Montreal published a study that examined the brains of former athletes who played contact sports approximately 30 years ago. Each of the study participants was considered healthy and physically active. Prior to the study, no one complained of symptoms related to cognitive impairment such as memory loss despite that many of the research participants experienced at least one concussion while engaged in a sporting activity in their youth. Researchers performed brain scans on the former athletes and administered both short and long-term memory tests. According to researchers, the brains of those participants who had experienced concussions in their youth appeared to be biologically older than the brains of those who had not suffered brain trauma. In fact, the brains of 50-year-olds who had been concussed were structurally similar to the brains of 60-year-old study participants who had not experienced such a trauma.
According to Steven P. Broglio, Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan, the premature aging results are alarming. He stated that his own research has also demonstrated that brain injuries such as concussions may speed up cognitive deterioration. Additionally, Dr. Broglio found that college students who suffered concussions while playing sports experienced a decline in cognitive abilities that still existed several years later.
Dr. Kevin M. Guskiewicz of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has also studied the effects of sports-related concussions. He stated the effects of a brain trauma tend to vary from person to person. While some athletes will experience cognitive decline from only one concussion, others may not. Dr. Broglio and other researchers are currently planning to begin a long-term study that would monitor the effects of a sports-related concussion on individuals from onset into old age.
Although the effects of a brain injury can be obvious, they can also be difficult to detect. Individuals who suffer a concussion or other brain injury may experience seizures, have difficulty speaking, or have trouble with balance and motor skills. Over time, the victim of a brain injury may experience memory loss, an inability to concentrate, mood swings, and other lifelong problems. The costs related to treating the many symptoms of brain damage can be astronomical. If you suffered a concussion or other brain injury in an accident, you should contact an experienced brain injury lawyer.