Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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highwayIn a recent Texas appellate case, the representative of a decedent’s estate appealed a judgment in favor of the defendant. She argued that the court had abused its discretion by admitting the defendant’s written statement when it wasn’t properly notarized.

The case arose when a university student was driving on I-10 toward Houston. At around 5:30 in the morning, the defendant got on I-10 and began traveling west ahead of the student’s car. The student was traveling faster than the defendant and came up to his vehicle from behind. Later, the parties disagreed about what had happened, but the defendant’s car swerved, hit the concrete barrier, and rolled over, landing upside down. The cars didn’t collide, but the student was thrown from his car and died at the scene.

The decedent’s mother sued the defendant in a wrongful death and survival action, claiming negligence and gross negligence. The defendant was granted partial summary judgment with regard to the mother’s claims for punitive damages and damages under the survival statute.

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woodsIn a recent Texas appellate case, four people sued the City of Austin under the Texas Tort Claims Act and the recreational use statute. The case arose when a man driving under the influence drove off the street, jumped a curb, and drove onto a hiking and biking trail next to the road. The car and a traffic warning sign struck and killed two people who were walking, a man and a woman. The man died due to his injuries. The drunk driver was sentenced to five years in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The man’s survivors sued the drunk driver and the city. Against the city, they asserted claims of gross negligence, negligence, premises defect, and special defect and argued that the city had breached its duties under the recreational use statute. They claimed that the city failed to safely build the trail, knew of previous incidents when vehicles traveled over the curb and onto the trail in the same location, and failed to appropriately warn or repair the dangerous condition. They also argued that the city maintained policies that required it to repair the problem once a danger was identified and that their failure to build a barrier was a failure to carry out a ministerial action that the city’s own policies required.

The city claimed that governmental immunity barred the plaintiffs’ claims, since sovereign immunity wasn’t waived for its discretionary choices related to the design of the road and the safety features to be installed. The plaintiffs responded that there was no immunity because the failure to fix the danger on the trail was a negligent failure to implement its own policy, rather than an initial design or policy choice for which there was immunity.

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bike laneIn a Texas appellate case, two people sued Austin Energy and the City of Austin under the Texas Tort Claims Act for injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident they claimed was due to a special defect. The two plaintiffs were riding bikes in the bike lane in the city during midday. As they came to an intersection, they came to a part of the bike lane that was partially covered by overgrown vegetation coming from a home.

The two stopped in the shade of the overgrown vegetation to drink water. Soon thereafter, a driver in a car drove across the solid white lane into the bike lane and hit the plaintiffs. They were hurt and had to go to the hospital by ambulance. The driver told the police she didn’t see the plaintiffs and didn’t know if the sun was in her face, even though the sunlight wasn’t coming from the direction she was facing.

The plaintiffs claimed that the overgrown vegetation was a special defect, and the city failed to maintain the right of way and keep it free from such obstructions. The city claimed it kept its immunity because the vegetation didn’t count as a special defect, and there was no way to amend the pleadings to establish a defect.

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car accidentIn a recent Texas appellate case, a woman sued her daughter and the defendant for a car accident that happened in 2010. The case arose when the defendant’s pickup hit the front of the daughter’s pickup on the street near the boyfriend’s house. The plaintiff and her daughter’s son were in the daughter’s pickup as passengers.

The defendant had backed out of his driveway and gone halfway down the block when the daughter’s pickup hit his truck from behind. He later testified he hadn’t put his truck in reverse during the trip after backing out of the driveway and wasn’t on his phone.

The daughter claimed that after turning left onto the street where the accident happened, she saw the defendant’s truck driving down the street. He stopped, reversed, and backed up. The daughter put her car in park and honked.

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pickup truckIn Aguirre v. Soto, the court considered whether the evidence was legally and factually sufficient to support an award of $40,000 to the plaintiff for future medical expenses after a car accident. The case arose when the defendant, driving a pickup, ran a stop sign and crashed into a car driven by the plaintiff. The plaintiff didn’t get medical treatment at the scene but went to the doctor after suffering pain in his lower back, shoulders, and neck. The plaintiff sued the defendant, and the defendant agreed he was liable, so the issue at trial was damages.

At trial, pictures of damaged vehicles were introduced into evidence. The plaintiff testified he hadn’t had pain before the crash, but after the accident, his pain was eight out of 10. He went to a chiropractor, who treated him for about a month and then wrote a report saying no further treatment was necessary. However, the report showed he still had ongoing pain, and the plaintiff testified that his pain was at an eight when he stopped getting treated. He tried to get medical treatment, and an MRI showed he had a disc herniation.

A doctor prepared a report that summarized his status, stating that he might need more diagnostics and further rehabilitative care, and eventually referred him to an anesthesiologist, who recommended injections. The plaintiff tried not to undergo injections for fear of potential paralysis and was then referred to a neurosurgeon, who recommended a surgical procedure.

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carIn Liang v. Edwards, a Texas appellate court considered a car accident case in which the jury found for the plaintiff, awarding her $5,000 for her past pain and suffering and more than $20,000 for her past medical bills. The case arose when the defendant hit the plaintiff’s car. She was driving within the speed limit but admitted the plaintiff did nothing wrong, and the officer found she was at fault.

The plaintiff’s husband drove her home, and she slept for hours. She went to the ER after she woke up and had suffered a neck sprain and concussion. She followed up with her doctor, and two days later, she visited a chiropractor and a physical therapist. She received physical therapy as well as chiropractic adjustments and other therapies from the doctor 2-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks.

Once she was finished with that, she went to a pain management specialist, who gave her an epidural steroid injection for her pain and later gave her a second one. She testified that she suffered through occasional pain after that and continued with the therapy because she was experiencing pain.

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fire truckIn Freer Volunteer Fire Department v. Wallace, a Texas appellate court considered a sovereign immunity case. The case arose when an ambulance driver was driving a man who was suspected to be having a heart attack to the hospital in an ambulance owned by the Freer Volunteer Fire Department. The ambulance hit the plaintiff’s car. The plaintiff’s daughter was a passenger in the car.

The plaintiff sued the driver and the city, claiming that the driver’s negligence injured her and her daughter. The driver filed an answer, claiming to be in the course and scope of his employment as a volunteer fireman and arguing he was immune from suit. The plaintiff added the Freer Volunteer Fire Department as a defendant. It filed an answer, also claiming that the driver was in the course and scope of his employment as a volunteer for it and that it was immune from suit. The plaintiff amended her petition again to drop the city as a defendant.

The driver and the Freer Volunteer Fire Department moved jointly to dismiss the driver under section 101.106(e) of the Texas Tort Claims Act (“Act”). This code section specifies that if a lawsuit is filed against a governmental unit and its employees, the employees must be immediately dismissed once the governmental unit files a motion for dismissal. In this case, the motion stated the driver was a volunteer employee and asked for dismissal. The plaintiff did amend and dropped the driver as a defendant.

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car mirrorIn Pattillo v. Franco, the plaintiff sued the defendant for damages sustained in a car accident. The jury didn’t award damages, and the plaintiff argued on appeal that the trial court had made a mistake in refusing to submit requested instructions regarding the eggshell-skull rule and circumstantial evidence.

The case arose in 2010 when the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff in stop-and-go traffic. The plaintiff claimed she was okay. Since there was not much damage, they exchanged insurance information and then continued on their way.

Three weeks later, the plaintiff went to a chiropractor, claiming she’d hurt her back in a car accident. She was later diagnosed with a lumbar herniated disc and received epidural steroidal injections in 2011. However, she had no medical treatment for her back during the following two years. She received a third epidural steroidal injection in 2014.

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dogIn Ingels v. Earnest, a plaintiff appealed a judgment that awarded her nothing in a personal injury lawsuit. The case arose when the plaintiff stopped on the freeway because of road construction. She was rear-ended by the defendant. However, neither of the drivers felt they needed help from the police or doctors, so they drove away from the accident and continued with their day.

A few weeks later, the plaintiff’s shoulder hurt, so she contacted a doctor. The doctor diagnosed her with a torn rotator cuff a few weeks after that. He recommended she undergo surgery, and she agreed. Her shoulder continued to hurt, and the doctor believed she would need more surgeries in the future. The plaintiff believed the injury was caused by the auto accident. She sued the defendant for negligence. At trial, she asked for damages based on disfigurement, medical care, physical impairment, and pain and mental anguish. The defendant argued damages weren’t appropriate unless the jury found that the injury was caused by the accident. The jury did not award her damages, and the court entered judgment accordingly.

The plaintiff asked for a new trial, but the court did not grant the motion. She appealed, arguing that the evidence was not enough to support the finding that there were no damages for her pain, impairment, disfigurement, and medical treatment. She also claimed that in response to the accident, her shoulder was actually hurt by restraining her dog during the accident.

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construction zoneIn Brown v. RK Hall Construction, Ltd., a 21-year-old plaintiff drank alcohol at a friend’s house and then tried to drive home shortly after midnight. The plaintiff drove into a construction zone, hit a piece of construction machinery that was parked in an area surrounded by a barricade away from the traffic lane, and suffered serious injuries.

A trooper came to the scene and reported that she’d ignored a warning sign and drove into the barricaded area. The plaintiff argued that she saw the barricades, but they were in the middle of the highway and didn’t show which lane was closed. She sued the contractors, RK Hall and Stacy Lyon, for negligently failing to generate and implement a plan for traffic safety. The contractors argued in response that they’d complied with the Texas Department of Transportation Traffic Control Plan for the project. The trial court agreed with the contractors and granted summary judgment for them.

The plaintiff appealed. The appellate court explained that contractors that repair roads for the state must conform to the specifications of the governmental unit supervising the work. A contractor for the Texas Department of Transportation that substantially complies with contract documents is immune from liability in personal injury lawsuits brought as a result of the work.

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