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.