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Texas Personal Injury Case Dismissed Due to Plaintiff’s Use of Drugs While Driving

A Texas appeals court recently considered a wrongful death case in which a Texas man was killed in an accident on the job. The man was involved in a single-vehicle accident involving a 1987 Freightliner, and died shortly after the accident occurred. The man was acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident. The employer was a nonsubscriber under the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, and the plaintiff, the man’s husband, filed suit against the defendant for negligence and gross negligence. The employer argued that it was not liable because the man was intoxicated at the time of the accident. After a hearing, a trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the employer.

Under the Texas summary judgment standard, the party moving for summary judgment has the burden to prove that there is no genuine issue of material fact on at least one essential issue and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. If the moving party succeeds in satisfying its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to show that an issue or evidence should preclude summary judgment. In addition, all motions for summary judgment must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that summary judgment should not have been granted because there were genuine issues of material fact concerning whether the man was legally intoxicated when the accident occurred. In support of its defense, the employer submitted an autopsy report and a toxicology report. The autopsy report showed that there was amphetamine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl in the man’s blood when he died. A doctor’s report stated that the amount found reflected a “voluntary introduction” of the drugs.

In response, the plaintiff submitted an affidavit from a state trooper stating that the plaintiff said that the man appeared happy that morning and that nothing appeared to be abnormal. However, the court noted that the affidavit did not provide any indication of the time that elapsed between the breakfast and the accident. The plaintiff also argued that there was evidence that the vehicle’s brakes were faulty, and that the faulty brakes caused the crash. Yet, the court explained that causation is not relevant to the issue of the employer’s defense of intoxication under the statute. The employer was only required to show that the employee was intoxicated in order to defend itself against the lawsuit. Accordingly, the appeals court affirmed the decision and dismissed the case.

Contact a San Antonio Injury Attorney

If your loved one has been injured or killed in a Texas car accident, do not hesitate to call the San Antonio injury attorneys at Carabin Shaw. Our attorneys are experienced in motor vehicle accident cases and other personal injury claims, and are prepared to aggressively represent injury victims across Texas. At Carabin Shaw, our goal is to protect the rights of accidents victims. Our personal injury attorneys have been fighting for the rights of accident victims for over 25 years. Call us toll-free at 1-800-862-1260. We offer free consultations and only recover a fee if we successfully resolve your case.

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