Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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Drunk driving is a serious concern throughout the country, but the issue is even more concerning in Texas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13,138 people were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver in Texas from 2003 to 2012. The rate of drunk driving deaths was higher in Texas than the national average across all age groups, according to data from 2012. In addition, the percentage of adults who reported driving after drinking too much was higher in Texas than nationally.

Cocktail and KeysThe CDC recommends that states have harsh drunk driving laws, including zero-tolerance laws, sobriety checkpoints, and ignition-interlock devices installed on cars for all offenders, as well as mass-media campaigns and school-based instructional programs, among other strategies.

Texas DUI Law

All states have drunk driving laws in place to protect the public from drunk drivers. In Texas, the state’s blood-alcohol limit is 0.08% for individuals 21 and older, and 0.04% for commercial drivers. Additionally, there is a zero-tolerance law in effect for individuals younger than 21 years old. Being involved in a DUI accident can have devastating consequences, and individuals who are injured in a Texas drunk driving accident may pursue a claim against the drunk driver to recover compensation for their injuries.

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  • car accidentThe legal doctrine of negligence generally governs most injury claims. Thus, understanding what a plaintiff must to prove is an important part of any Texas injury case. Negligence means that a party acted or failed to act in a way that an ordinarily prudent person would have acted in those or similar circumstances. This is referred to as the standard of care.

The standard of care required in a given scenario depends on the facts of the case. Some considerations might include the dangerousness of the activity involved and the relationship between the parties. Therefore, a plaintiff must show that the defendant did something a prudent person exercising ordinary care would not have done (or failed to do something an ordinarily prudent person would have done) in those same circumstances.

In Texas, to prove a negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove 1) the defendant owed the plaintiff a legal duty; 2) the defendant breached that duty; and 3) the breach proximately caused the plaintiff damages. That means that in a Texas car accident case, a plaintiff has to prove that another person failed to meet the standard of care, which caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In some cases, the standard of care has been defined. For example, negligence per se is a concept where a certain standard of care has already been established. In that instance, a statute states what a reasonably prudent person would have done, and then the jury is asked whether the defendant violated the statute or regulation.

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In some cases, employers can be held responsible for their employees’ actions, including Texas car accidents involving employees. In a recent decision, a Texas appeals court considered the employer’s responsibility after its employee was involved in a car accident. The plaintiff was in a car accident with a moving company’s employee, which resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. The employee made a left turn across a four-lane highway as she was leaving a parking lot. The plaintiff was unable to avoid the employee’s car and drove into the left side of the employee’s car. The employee was cited for failing to yield the right of way.

Legal News GavelThe plaintiff sued the moving company, alleging it was vicariously liable for the employee’s negligence. The plaintiff also alleged that the moving company failed to properly supervise its employee, negligently hired the employee, and negligently retained the employee, among other claims. The moving company argued the case should be dismissed because the employee was not acting in the course and scope of her employment with the company at the time of the collision.

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability refers to the liability of an employer or another responsible party for the actions of another person. Under one type of vicarious liability, known as respondeat superior, an employer may be held liable for the negligent acts of its employee if the employee’s actions fall within the course and scope of the employee’s employment. According to Texas law, an employee’s acts must be within the scope of the employee’s general authority, in furtherance of the employer’s business, and taken to accomplish a task for which the employee was hired. In addition, generally an employee is not in the course and scope of employment while driving to and from work.

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Legal News GavelA recent Texas product liability decision arose from a one-vehicle accident. The plaintiff was driving his vehicle with his family when a back tire burst, triggering a rollover. Those inside the car were injured.

The driver had bought the car used from a car shop that had gotten it as salvage and repaired it before selling it to the husband. The tire in question was made by the defendant. However, the tire had triple the tread amount that is mandated by federal regulations at the time of the accident. The injured plaintiffs sued the tire manufacturer, claiming the tire was negligently or defectively designed and made. They also claimed gross negligence and failure to warn causes of action.

The plaintiffs hired a forensic tire analyst to provide expert testimony. He testified that the tire was made and designed with defects. The manufacturer moved for summary adjudication of the plaintiffs’ claims. It also tried to get the expert’s testimony excluded, arguing that he wasn’t qualified or reliable. Summary judgment was granted, but the request to leave out the expert testimony was denied. The claims against the manufacturer were separated from the plaintiff’s claims against the used car dealership that sold the car.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Texas appellate decision, a woman challenged the lower court’s judgment in a lawsuit for negligence and wrongful death. Among other things, she claimed the lower court had made a mistake in admitting a video recording of an experiment that had happened outside of court.

The case arose when the plaintiffs claimed that a minivan had crashed into a sedan driven by the defendant at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal. The minivan passenger was the mother of the plaintiffs, and she suffered fatal injuries, dying after the accident. The plaintiffs claimed the defendant had not used ordinary care in going into the intersection without paying attention to the red traffic light, not controlling her car’s speed, and not looking out carefully or applying her brakes on time. They claimed her failure to use ordinary care was the legal cause of their mother’s death and asked for loss of companionship and mental anguish as their damages, in addition to more concrete damages.

The defendant denied the claim and said the accident was caused by the driver of the car in which the decedent was riding. The defendant lived on that street and was familiar with the signal at issue. She claimed the light was green as she headed toward the intersection, and there were no other cars on the road in front of her, although there were stopped cars on the intersecting street. There was some discrepancy in her claims about stopped cars.

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Legal News GavelA recent Texas truck accident decision arose out of a pickup truck accident. An equipment company had employed a man as a driver. While driving in the course and scope of his employment in November 2012, the man got into an accident. At trial, the jury received conflicting evidence about what happened to cause the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries.

The plaintiff was driving east in a pickup one morning. When he came to an intersection with a yellow light, he slowed down, and the light turned red. The intersection was east of a school zone, where the speed limit was 30 mph. After he stopped, the plaintiff saw the equipment company employee driving toward him from behind in another pickup. The plaintiff estimated the other driver was moving at 45 mph when he struck the plaintiff’s truck from behind.

The impact was hard, according to the plaintiff. The plaintiff experienced pain in his neck, shoulders, and back, and he testified that the force pulled his seat loose from the hinges fixing it in place. He also presented deposition testimony from the other driver, in which the other driver admitted his fault and testified that he believed the plaintiff was hurt. He also presented the employer’s representative’s deposition testimony. The deponent testified that the employee had written out a statement in which he admitted that in his opinion, he was at fault for the accident, and the deponent testified that the employer agreed.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Texas car crash decision, the plaintiff claimed she was hit by a car while using the crosswalk by a courthouse. The traffic light was flashing a walk signal when she started crossing, but the intersection light also gave drivers a protected left turn across the crosswalk with a green left turn arrow. The defendant turned left and hit her.

The plaintiff sued the defendant for negligent driving, but she also sued the city, county, and Department of Transportation for negligence in connection with the signals. She nonsuited the county and the Department. She supplemented her claims against the city by claiming that the city had entered into an agreement with the state in 2001. In this agreement, the city had undertaken to change the traffic signals as necessary and agreed to provide traffic lights at different intersections, including the place where she’d been injured.

She claimed the city was aware there was an issue with the traffic signals because there had been a similar accident in 2012 involving a conflicting left turn signal and a walk signal. She claimed the city police had investigated that collision, thereby allowing the city to become aware of the issue. The plaintiff alleged that even though the city knew there was a problem, it had breached its duties by failing to resolve the issue. It had not properly programmed the lights, and it had not maintained the lights or provided a safe crossing. She claimed these negligent omissions were the legal cause of her accident. She also claimed negligence per se based on violations of the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices section 4D.05(F)(1)(2) and City of Edinburg Resolution No. 01-1611.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Texas car accident case, the plaintiff appealed a summary judgment ruling that she take nothing in her claim. The case arose several years ago when the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff’s car on the MoPac expressway. In a week, she sued the defendant, claiming negligence and negligence per se based on his drunk driving.

When the lawsuit started, she was asking for personal injury damages. However, the defendant’s auto insurance carrier settled those claims. The property damage claims didn’t settle, and she amended her pleadings to get recovery of those damages. She’d bought her car about three weeks before the accident. It was purchased through an installment sales contract. The plaintiff made a down payment and agreed to satisfy the remaining balance through monthly payments.

The contract granted a security interest in the car to secure the plaintiff’s debt. The car was a total loss after the accident. The damages were the fair market value of the car immediately before the injury at the place where the injury happened. This is subject to a credit or offset in the amount of the car’s salvage value if the owner keeps the car.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Texas auto accident decision, a woman appealed from a take nothing judgment after a jury trial in her personal injury lawsuit against a defendant, claiming injuries when the defendant’s vehicle hit hers from behind. The jury decided that both parties had been negligent. They believed that the plaintiff had caused 51% of the accident, and the defendant had caused 49%. Accordingly, a take nothing judgment was rendered. She appealed.

The plaintiff claimed that the lower court had made a mistake in not admitting the defendant’s deposition testimony. She argued that if a party doesn’t appear at trial but appears to be deposed, the deposition transcript must be admitted.

The appellate court explained that whether evidence is admitted is within the lower court’s discretion. If a party introduces some recorded testimony, the other party asks questions. An adverse party can ask about any other subject. The adverse party is allowed to bring forward any other recording that is needed to explain or allow the jury to understand the section that the opponent introduced. The purpose of the rule is to protect against a distortion that could be created if part of the evidence is introduced.

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Legal News GavelIn a recent Texas train accident case, the plaintiffs appealed a summary judgment granted in favor of a railroad company and a corporation. The railroad company claimed that the plaintiff driver had caused a crash with its train by failing to yield the right of way at an intersection of tracks and highway. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff had been warned of a crossing by a black and white railroad crossing sign, but he ignored the warning and stopped in such a way that he blocked the tracks.

The railroad company claimed the plaintiff was negligent and negligent per se. The driver answered the petition and raised affirmative defenses. Later, the driver counterclaimed, arguing the railroad company had legally caused him disabling injuries. He raised respondeat superior, negligence, negligence per se, and gross negligence as theories of recovery. After that, the parties filed amended petitions to add the plaintiff driver as a co-plaintiff against the railroad company and corporation.

The railroad company moved for summary judgment, arguing it was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the plaintiff had stopped the car he was driving in such a way that he parked the trailer on the tracks and failed to provide the right of way to the train. The driver responded to the motion but attached no evidence. Later, he filed a statement and an actuarial report.

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