Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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Any individual in Texas who operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated commits the offense of driving while intoxicated. This includes intoxication not only by alcohol, but also by illegal drugs and even prescription drugs, as long as the drugs have an intoxicating effect on the driver. If a driver is arrested for a Texas DWI, this evidence can be useful in a subsequent personal injury case against the driver.

Of course, as in any case, a plaintiff in a personal injury case must still prove each of the elements of the claim she is bringing. This means that a driver’s arrest and conviction for DWI does not necessarily result in the driver being found liable in a civil case. For example, in a Texas personal injury case, a plaintiff must prove all the elements of negligence, including that the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. This means proving both that the crash was a result of the defendant’s conduct and that the defendant’s conduct caused the plaintiff’s injuries. A defendant might argue that the plaintiff was at fault for the crash, or at least contributed to it, or that the plaintiff’s injuries were not caused by the accident, among other defenses.

NTSB Finds Driver Was Impaired by Marijuana and Prescription Drugs in Fatal Texas Crash

A driver involved in a Texas car accident that left 13 people dead was under the influence of marijuana and prescription drugs, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). As one news source reported, the NTSB investigated the crash and recently released its findings. The NTSB found that the driver failed to control his pickup truck because he was impaired by marijuana and had misused prescription drugs.

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In a recent dram shop case before a Texas court of appeals, the appeals court considered whether the bar could be held liable for over-serving a customer who was later involved in a car crash.

The Facts

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was driving his motorcycle one night when a car crashed into him. The vehicle failed to yield and turned left in front of the plaintiff, who was unable to stop. The car’s driver ran over the plaintiff, who had fallen from his motorcycle, and then backed up, running over him again, before fleeing the scene.

Before the crash, the driver of the car had been drinking for several hours at different bars with a friend. They went to one bar, then to defendant’s bar, then to a third bar, then to a fourth bar where they were refused service, and then back to the defendant’s bar, where they continued drinking. The driver eventually left the bar, and struck the plaintiff on his way home. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s bar provided, sold, or served alcohol to the driver of the car when he was obviously intoxicated “to the extent that he presented a clear danger to [him]self and others.”

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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.The 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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  • The 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.The 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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A 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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In 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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A 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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In 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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In 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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