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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/07/Screen-Shot-2021-07-02-at-9.08.29-AM-300x163.pngWhile some car accidents seem straightforward, upon investigation, most cases contain various factors that may impact liability and financial recovery. Most Texas motor vehicle accidents involve negligence or recklessness. However, while specific actions may seem “negligent,” Texas law has a precise definition of what amounts to legal negligence. Even if an injury victim can establish the other party’s negligence, they might still need to refute any claims of contributory negligence.

Contributory negligence and comparative fault are two approaches to liability in a Texas personal injury accident claim. Many accidents involve more than one reason or set of circumstances that led to the accident. There are various contributory negligence and comparative negligence theories that impact recovery. Texas courts use the “modified comparative negligence” laws to determine liability and subsequent recovery. Under this system, a plaintiff that is more than 51% responsible for an accident cannot recover compensation.

In light of the state’s comparative negligence laws, insurance companies will go to great lengths to refute a victim’s claim and reduce their compensation. In some cases, insurance companies and defendants will provide significant evidence to establish the victim’s liability. For instance, a recent Texas accident highlights a situation where a defendant may claim that the victim was negligent. In that case, a 73-year-old man suffered fatal injuries in a car accident. According to police, the man was in the process of picking up an item that fell out of his truck when he got hit by a Jeep. At the time of the report, the police did not issue any citations.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/06/Screen-Shot-2021-06-23-at-4.18.35-PM-251x300.pngVarious state and federal agencies regulate the safety of infant and baby products. While these agencies possess the power to administer and enforce federal safety laws, many dangerous products continue to make their way into the consumer stream. Every year infants and children in Texas experience exposure to dangerous and potentially life-threatening products. When this occurs, family members should consider filing a Texas product liability claim against the defective product’s manufacturer or retailer.

For instance, Fisher-Price is once again recalling one of its most popular infant products. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission received reports citing the Rock n’ Glide Sleeper as the cause of four infants’ deaths. In each of the cases, the infants were placed unrestrained on their backs in the sleeper but were later found unresponsive on their stomachs. The deaths included infants ranging from 11 weeks to 4 months old. The current recall comes after a similar situation in 2019, in which the company agreed to recall its Rock’ n Play sleeper after several babies suffocated after rolling to their stomachs in the device.

Texas product liability lawsuits generally fall under one or more of the three types of defective product claims. The claims generally stem from design defects, failure to warn claims or manufacturing defects. Design defect claims apply when a product’s defective design poses a danger to the user. Claimants in these cases must establish that the company could have used a less dangerous design, the alternative design would not pose an unreasonable financial burden, and the alternative design would have maintained the product’s purpose and use. Failure to warn claims applies when a product poses an unreasonable danger even when used according to its directions. Finally, manufacturing defects claim that the product is defective because of an error that occurred during production.

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CS-San-Antonio-9-300x300The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion finding that a trial court abused its discretion in denying a defendant’s discovery request. The case arose after the plaintiff suffered injuries in a Texas car accident with a tractor-trailer driven by the defendant’s employee. After the accident, the parties took photos, exchanged identifying information, and drove away without reporting injuries. A few days after the accident, the plaintiff sought medical treatment and underwent several surgeries on his spine and shoulder. His medical providers charged him over one million dollars for the surgeries and treatment. The plaintiff did not pay for the care. His attorneys notified the healthcare providers that they would protect the healthcare providers’ interest if they settled the underlying personal injury lawsuit. However, they specified the settlement would only include reasonable and necessary medical charges.

During the trial, the defendants served subpoenas on the plaintiff’s healthcare providers. Specifically, they wanted information related to the providers’ billing practices and rates. Three of the providers filed motions to quash the subpoenas, and the trial court granted the motions. The defendant narrowed the requests, but the healthcare providers responded that the narrowed requests contained the same defects.

Under the rules of evidence, evidence is “relevant” if it has “any tendency” to make a fact more or less probable. For pre-trial discovery, evidence that may not be admissible at trial may still be permitted, so long as it’s “reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” In the context of personal injury lawsuits, medical records and bills reasonably related to a party’s injuries or damages are typically relevant.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/05/Screen-Shot-2020-05-04-at-9.59.08-AM-300x298.pngThe Supreme Court of Texas recently issued an opinion in a premises liability case involving teenage church volunteers who suffered injuries in a fire. The church hosted an annual festival featuring rides, games, music, and vendors—the church profits from the festival from receiving a portion of the sales from vendors and sales. The 4-H Leaders Association (4-H) rented a booth at the festival to sell various food items. 4-H paid the church to rent the booth, but the church did not receive any profits from the booth’s sales. According to the record, a fire broke out in the booth, and five volunteers, four of whom were teenagers, suffered injuries in the fire.

The trial primarily hinged on the cause of the fire, the plaintiffs arguing that it stemmed from a defective propane tank, while 4-H and the church argued that it was from one of the volunteers spilling ice into a fryer. The trial court found in favor of the defendants, and the appellate court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The appellate court found that the plaintiffs did not have a claim against 4-H but remanded the case against the church for a new trial.

Under Texas law, a property owner or occupier’s duty to someone on their property depends on the person’s status. Typically, property owners owe invitees a duty to “exercise reasonable care to protect against unreasonable risk of harm,” that the owner knew or should have known through reasonable diligence. Texas property owners owe licensees a lesser duty to use ordinary care to warn of or make a dangerous condition, that the owner knows of, safe.

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collection-of-construction-safety-helmet-38070-300x197The Supreme Court of Texas recently issued a decision following a petition from review from the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District. The court was tasked with determining whether a general contractor on a construction project owed a duty of care to a subcontractor’s employee who suffered injuries on the job. The general contractor hired a subcontractor to erect a concrete tower. The victim, an employee of the subcontractor, suffered injuries when the tower detached and fell on his legs. The victim filed a lawsuit against the general contractor alleging negligence and gross negligence. He argued that the defendant had contractual and actual control over the subcontractor’s work and thus owed the victim a duty of care. The trial court found in the defendant’s favor, and the court of appeals reversed.

On petition to the Supreme Court of Texas, the defendant argued that it did not owe the victim a duty of care. Generally, under Texas law, an entity that employs an independent contractor does not maintain a duty to ensure that the subcontractor performs its work safely. However, an exception applies when the contractor maintains some level of control over the way the contractor performs the work that caused the damage. The element of control must relate to the activity or condition that caused the injury. Further, the control must extend to the “means, methods, or details” of the independent subcontractor’s work.

In this case, the defendant argued that it did not have actual control over the subcontractor. It cited testimony where the subcontractor’s superintendent stated that the contractor did not instruct any of the subcontractor’s employees and no one from the contracting company told him how to install the tower or its braces. In response, the plaintiff argued that the contracting company asserted actual control by having someone on-site every day to inspect for safety. Additionally, someone from the company was there to inspect on the day of the accident, and the company was aware that the towers were not appropriately braced for wind. However, the court found no evidence that the contracting company exercised control over the subcontractor’s work. Further, the court reasoned that the courts have not recognized the presence of a safety employee as enough to give rise to actual control.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/05/Screen-Shot-2021-05-24-at-12.31.46-PM-300x140.pngA family initiated a Texas wrongful death lawsuit against SpaceX following a car accident outside its launch site. According to a recent news report, the tragic accident occurred when the family left a campsite early after officials called for an evacuation because of rising tides. While driving home, the family was involved in a harrowing accident with a large semi-truck that was stopped in front of SpaceX. The accident took the life of the 35-year-old husband and father and resulted in serious injuries to the man’s wife and three young children. An autopsy report states that the man died from “blunt force” trauma due to the motor vehicle collision.

The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that SpaceX was grossly negligent because they failed to provide adequate lighting and warnings around their facility. Further, their claim contends that the spacecraft and rocket manufacturer did not maintain procedures to direct stopped or obstructive delivery vehicles to avoid these types of accidents. Moreover, the family maintains that the company, and not the local government, maintains responsibility for addressing the increased traffic that their company begets. The family argues that the company prioritized quick completion of their facility rather than the safety of those traveling on the dark and narrow roadway. In response, the company purports that the family, not the company, maintains responsibility for the collision. The company’s attorney stated that the man failed to use necessary “care and caution,” as is expected of a reasonably ordinary person when navigating the highway.

This case presents many issues regarding who maintains responsibility for maintaining Texas roads. There are many reasons that Texas roadways fall into disrepair and become dangerous hazards to motorists. While city planning and infrastructure development may address the party responsible for designing a dangerous roadway, it still leaves the question of who is responsible for road maintenance. In these situations, many parties may hold responsibility for repairing and modifying roadways to meet current demands. A federal, state or local government may all hold some responsibility for a road’s upkeep. However, the question only gets more complex when a large business drastically impacts a roadway. In these cases, fault and liability may become more convoluted. It is crucial that those who suffer injuries on a Texas roadway contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

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activity-board-game-connection-desk-613508-300x200The Supreme Court of Texas issued a decision in Emerson v. Johnson, upholding a multi-million dollar verdict in a Texas product liability lawsuit. The record indicates that the plaintiff, a highly experienced HVAC repairman, suffered severe burns to over 60% of his body while installing an HVAC unit. After an outdated and malfunctioning compressor in the unit exploded, the unit released scalding hot liquid all over the man. Despite the man’s HVAC experience, there was no way he could have known that the new compressor incorporated outdated technology inside the unit.

The man filed a product liability lawsuit against both the product’s manufacturer and an affiliate who designed and made the unit. He argued that the defendants defectively designed and manufactured the terminal and compressor. After a trial, a jury found that the older terminal design was unreasonably dangerous. The defendant asked the court to overturn the verdict based on legal sufficiency grounds or for a retrial because of a jury charge error.

On appeal to the Supreme Court, the defendants’ case largely rested on their contention that the plaintiff failed to present evidence that the terminal was unreasonably dangerous. A defective design inquiry requires the jury to find that the product is unreasonably dangerous as designed. The jury must consider the utility of the product and the risk of its use.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/05/Screen-Shot-2021-05-09-at-9.51.14-PM.pngMay 9, 2021:  KILGORE, Texas (KETK) – An East Texas toddler who was fighting for his life after a swimming accident at a Kilgore Texas hotel has died.
Luke Wayne Killough, age 2, died Friday, April 30 due to brain trauma.  Luke was about to go swimming with his 4-year-old sister on Sunday, April 25 at the Kilgore Holiday Inn and Suites when he fell into the hot tub. His sister tried to save him but was unable to do so.  She ran to her father, Scott Killough, who was nearby caring for his baby to tell him. Luke’s mother Dominique Killough said that the child told her father that her “boogie”, a nickname for her brother, was floating face-down in the hot tub.
According to the mother, Scott raced over, pulled Luke from the water and helped Luke throw up food that had become stuck in his throat.
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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/05/Screen-Shot-2020-05-04-at-9.59.08-AM-300x298.pngThe law provides that Texas insurance companies owe several duties to their policyholders. These procedural and substantive rules aim to ensure that insurance companies settle claims fairly and promptly. Insurance companies that fail to abide by these standards may be liable under Texas’ insurance bad faith and breach of contract laws.

While insurance companies are subject to significant oversight, many companies continue to engage in questionable practices that can adversely affect policyholders. Insurance companies typically maintain a team of experienced attorneys to defend their practices, which often leaves policyholders in a daunting and precarious financial position. Policyholders who face difficulties settling a claim with their Texas insurance company should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Under Texas law, policyholders pursuing a common law bad faith claim must establish their insurance company improperly denied a lawful claim. These causes of action usually stem from misrepresenting a policy, failing to settle in good faith, failing to explain a denial, failing to clarify coverage, and refusing to settle a claim without a reasonable investigation. The most common insurance business practices that lead to these claims are, claim undervaluation, delaying claims or payments, canceling or changing terms of a contract, requesting unnecessary information, alleging fraud without justification.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2021/04/Screen-Shot-2021-04-27-at-2.37.08-PM.pngSelf-driving, or autonomous cars, are revolutionizing the way the public looks at travel and car ownership. These vehicles turn active drivers into passive passengers, allowing motorists to rely on the car’s advanced computerized system to navigate the roads and avoid collisions. However, these cars may result in a serious Texas car accident, as the new technology is still being refined.

Autonomous vehicles rely on complex computer systems, sensors, actuators, and various algorithms to operate on the roads without an active driver. In theory, these cars provide a glimpse into a more environmentally friendly and safer future for road users. However, as it is, these features often present more dangers than benefits.

For example, recently, a national news report described a fatal Tesla crash involving a driverless vehicle. According to reports, the vehicle did not have a driver and was operating on high or full automation mode. As such, one of the occupants was in the front passenger seat, and the other occupants were in the back seat. The car was speeding along a dangerous curve when it slammed into a tree. Emergency responders used over 30,000 gallons of water to put out the massive fire that the collision sparked. Tesla did not respond to this incident but previously stated that their vehicles are intended to be used with an attentive driver who has their hands on the steering wheel. However, safety officials argue that the company does not do enough to deter drivers from depending too much on the vehicle’s features.

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