Late last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Texas car accident case requiring the court to determine if the plaintiff’s case against the defendant city should proceed toward trial over the city’s motion for summary judgment. In its motion, the city claimed it was entitled to government immunity because it did not have notice of the fallen stop sign that allegedly caused the accident in which the plaintiff was injured. Ultimately, the court rejected the city’s argument and denied its motion because there were disputed facts regarding the applicability of immunity in the case.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was injured when she was side-swiped while driving through an intersection in Houston. The plaintiff was traveling northbound at the time of the accident. At this specific intersection, traffic traveling in the east-west direction did not have a stop sign. There was a stop sign for both northbound and southbound traffic, which is where the dispute between the parties arose.
After the accident, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the city, claiming it was liable for her injuries because the stop sign for northbound traffic had been knocked over and was lying on the ground after the accident. The city claimed that the sign was not knocked down, and was visible at the time of the accident.
In support of her claim, the plaintiff testified that the sign was knocked down. In addition, a few days before the hearing on the motion was scheduled, the plaintiff presented two additional witnesses who both echoed her testimony. One of these witnesses provided photographs that he claimed were taken on the day of the accident. The photographs showed a fallen stop sign with grass growing up around it.
The city objected to the witnesses’ testimony on the basis that the witnesses’ names were not provided in the list of pre-trial discovery material and also took issues with the authenticity of the photographs. The court overruled the city’s objections.
The city presented its own witness, a police officer who routinely patrols the area, who testified that she had patrolled the area two days before the accident and that the sign was not down at that time. The witness also testified that when she responded to the scene after the accident, the sign was leaning slightly to the side, but was still visible.
The Court’s Decision
The court held that the city’s motion for summary judgement should be denied, explaining that the issue of whether the city had notice of the sign was disputed. The court noted that the under the plaintiff’s version of events, the city would have had ample opportunity to discover the fallen sign. However, the city’s witnesses presented a conflicting account under which the city would not have had notice of the sign’s condition. Thus, a material issue of fact remained, which the court held was to be resolved by the jury. Thus, summary judgment was not appropriate. As a result, the plaintiff’s case will be permitted to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations.
Have You Been Injured in a Texas Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Texas car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Depending on the facts surrounding the accident, there may be multiple parties who are liable for your injuries, including government entities, employers, or third-party contractors. The dedicated San Antonio injury lawyers at Carabin Shaw have decades of experience representing injury victims and their families in a wide range of Texas car accident cases. To learn how they can help you with your case, call 1-800-862-1260.
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