Distracted Drivers Hurt People

Texas has taken a stand against Texting while Driving

Car and Trucking accidents caused by distracted drivers are in the media every day.  Those accidents that make the news are often the ones where people have died.  Texas’ new law will no doubt save lives.  If you have questions about the law, have discussed it in this post.

Following this one law it not enough.  There will still be many accidents caused by distracted driving.  NHTSA has a entire page dedicated to distracted driving.

Many of our clients, even before cell phones were victims of distracted drivers.  For whatever reasons, driving is the last thing on the mind of many drivers.  They are thinking about work, what they will eat when they get home, the fact that they are running late, etc.  In our fast paced world, it has become necessary for us to multitask.  That’s great, except when you are driving.

When things go bad while you are driving, those bad things happen fast. Failure to focus on your driving can cause the bad thing – ” I didn’t see the stop sign” or  “I didn’t realize the cars in front of my were stopped for construction” and can affect your ability to react to someone or something else.

Think about the steps that must take from the time of the bad thing to hopefully avoiding it.

  1. The brain has to perceive the bad thing,
  2. The brain has to decide how to respond to the bad thing,
  3. Your brain has to tell you muscles what to do,
  4. The muscles have to respond,
  5. The mechanical device  (brakes, steering wheel) has to respond to the input from the muscles.

The point is a lot of things have to happen when things go bad while driving, and whether someone is hurt depends on a lot of things, but the one thing you can control is how focused you are on your driving.  If you are interested in the details, take a look at this article.

So, when you are driving, drive.  It seems like a simple and mundane task, but it is one that can kill or seriously injure you or someone else.

And in the unfortunate event you are in a car wreck or truck wreck caused by a distracted driver, please give us a call at 903)236-4990.

Board Certified Personal Injury Attorney

I am Chris Jones, and I am a Texas lawyer,  Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law.

Burn Injury Lawyer

burn injuriesBURN INJURIES

Burns are a major cause of suffering and death in the United States.

According to the American Burn Association there are over 486,000 burn injuries each year requiring medical treatment. American Burn Association Burn Incidence Fact Sheet 2016. 43%  of the burns are caused by Fire/Flame, 34% by Scalds, 9% by Contact, 4% by Electrical, 3% by Chemical and 7%by other causes.  73% of the injuries occur at home, 8% in the workplace, 5% on streets and highways,  5% in recreational and sport activities and  9% Other at other locations. Approximately 30,000 of these burn injuries require treatment in hospital burn centers.

Many burn injuries are caused by unreasonably dangerous and defective products.  If you or a loved one has suffered burns as a result of a product, please see our post regarding products liability. Motor vehicle and trucking accidents can involve fires. Part of a vehicle being “crashworthy” includes avoiding post collision fuel fed fires.

Electrical accidents  often result in very serious burns.  Many of these accidents involve working around power lines or work in the oilfield. improper packaging and transport of flammable gases and liquids can cause other wise avoidable fires and burn injuries. The improper use of flammable material in clothing has caused a number of burn injuries.  This list can go on and on…

The pain and suffering, disfigurement and physical impairment caused by burns and other personal injury damages are often horrendous.  These damages should be documented from the beginning.

If you or one of your family members has been the victim of these horrible injuries, please do not delay in giving us call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Chris Jones of Longview, Texas is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law  is an experienced burn injury lawyer and passionate in the representation of those suffering from burn injuries as a result of someone’s negligence or dangerous and defective products.  Mr. Jones is rated as a preeminent Lawyer by his peers.

Head and Brain Injury Lawyer

Model of Human Brain

Experienced head and brain injury lawyer, Chris Jones of Longview, Texas is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and passionate in the representation of those suffering from head or brain injuries as a result of someone’s negligence or dangerous and defective products.  Mr. Jones is rated as a preeminent Lawyer by his peers.

Head Injury or Brain Injury

Head injuries are injuries to the head indicating damage to the skull, face, jaw or the contents of the jaw.  “Head injury” is a term which includes a “brain injury”.  “Brain injury” is a more specific term indicating damage to brain cells. Brain injuries are often referred to as an “acquired brain injury” (ABI) and ‘traumatic brain injury” (TBI). Medical records will also often refer brain injuries as a “closed head injury” (CHI) or “traumatic head injury” (THI).

One of the most difficult issues with Brain Injuries in legal claims is the often invisible nature of these injuries.  They are often undiagnosed after an accident and can be difficult to prove.  This is unfortunate, because these injuries are often the most disabling.

Signs and Symptoms

In Facts for Physicians published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), the signs and symptoms of TBI are broken generally into four categories:

  • PHYSICAL
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Balance problems
    • Dizziness
    • Visual problems
    • Fatigue
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Sensitivity to noise
    • Numbness/Tingling
    • Dazed or stunned
  • COGNITIVE
    • Feeling mentally “foggy”
    • Feeling slowed down
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Difficulty remembering
    • Forgetful of recent information or conversations
    • Confused about recent events
    • Answers questions slowly
    • Repeats questions
  • EMOTIONAL
    • Irritability
    • Sadness
    • More emotional
    • Nervousness
  • SLEEP
    •  Drowsiness
    • Sleeping less than usual
    • Sleeping more than usual
    • Trouble falling asleep

ONLINE RESOURCES FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES

A few of the great online resources for those with brain injuries include:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers updates on the latest research and
statistics on traumatic brain injury, along with information on educational and outreach
campaigns.

The Mayo Clinic offers basic and in-depth information into the causes and symptoms of
traumatic brain injury. Mayo Clinic

The Center of Excellence for Medical Multimedia – created by the federal Office of the
Surgeon General – offers information for soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injuries,
and helps link them to medical treatment facilities, health and wellness centers, and
civilian medical facilities.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes
of Health, supports research into traumatic brain injury and other neurological disorders.

Experienced Brain Injury Lawyer

We have experience with traumatic brain injury cases, and if you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury cases in an accident and need a lawyer, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, Longview, Texas a call at 903-236-4990, 888-236-4878 (toll-free) for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Governmental Tort Liability, Governmental Immunity, Texas

View from under the Texas State Capitol DomeGovernmental entities are generally shielded from liability by “sovereign immunity”.  In order to hold a protected governmental entity accountable, a waiver of this immunity is necessary.  This post deals with governmental tort liability.  A separate analysis must be done for governmental contractual liability.

Texas Tort Claims Act

In Texas, Sec. 101.02 of the The Texas Tort Claims Act provides a waiver and permission to sue Texas Governmental units –  the State of Texas and all the several agencies of government that collectively constitute the government of Texas as well as the political subdivisions of Texas.  However, the waiver is not unlimited:

Sec. 101.021.  GOVERNMENTAL LIABILITY. A governmental unit in the state is liable for:

(1)  property damage, personal injury, and death proximately caused by the wrongful act or omission or the negligence of an employee acting within his scope of employment if:

(A)  the property damage, personal injury, or death arises from the operation or use of a motor-driven vehicle or motor-driven equipment; and

(B)  the employee would be personally liable to the claimant according to Texas law; and

(2)  personal injury and death so caused by a condition or use of tangible personal or real property if the governmental unit would, were it a private person, be liable to the claimant according to Texas law.

As you can see, the waiver is generally limited to the operation or use of a motor-driven vehicle or motor-driven equipment and a condition or use of tangible personal or real property.

Furthermore, Section 101.056 DISCRETIONARY POWERS preserves the governmental unit’s immunity for the performance or non-performance of an act left to the discretion of the governmental unit.

The Supreme Court of Texas has determined that “[a]n act is discretionary if it requires exercising judgment and the law does not mandate performing the act with such precision that nothing is left to discretion or judgment.” State v. Rodriguez, 985 S.W.2d 83, 85 (Tex. 1999) (citing City of Lancaster v. Chambers, 883 S.W.2d 650, 654 (Tex. 1994)). Thus, “[a] distinction is drawn between the negligent formulation of policy, for which sovereign immunity is preserved, and the negligent implementation of policy, for which immunity is waived.”Stephen F. Austin State Univ. v. Flynn, 228 S.W.3d 653, 657 (Tex. 2007).

If the Texas Tort Claims Act applies and provides a waiver of immunity,  Sec. 101.023 of the Act limits the amount of recovery in those situations that fall within the waiver.

The Act must be studied with an eye toward the type of governmental entity that caused the harm.  For example,  Sec. 101.051 limits the waiver with regard to school districts or junior college districts to motor vehicles.

Notice Requirements

It is very important to pay attention to the Notice requirements in Sec. 101.101 of the Act:

NOTICE. (a) A governmental unit is entitled to receive notice of a claim against it under this chapter not later than six months after the day that the incident giving rise to the claim occurred. The notice must reasonably describe:

(1)  the damage or injury claimed;

(2)  the time and place of the incident; and

(3)  the incident.

(b)  A city’s charter and ordinance provisions requiring notice within a charter period permitted by law are ratified and approved.

(c)  The notice requirements provided or ratified and approved by Subsections (a) and (b) do not apply if the governmental unit has actual notice that death has occurred, that the claimant has received some injury, or that the claimant’s property has been damaged.

One cannot assume that the Notice must be sent within six months.  There may be a city charter and ordinance requiring notice in a shorter time.  

In summary, the are limited situations where the Texas Tort Claims Act waives immunity, the Act must be examined closely for a particular fact scenario and special care must be taken to satisfy the Notice requirements.

It should also be noted that there are also other limited waivers of sovereign immunity.  For example, Sec. 180.006.  SOVEREIGN OR GOVERNMENTAL IMMUNITY WAIVED FOR CERTAIN CLAIMS provides a waiver for the back pay of firefighters and police officers.

Municipalities

Municipalities fall within the Texas Tort Claims Act, but have their own considerations.  I published an entire law review article on this subject while in law school, and it is a difficult subject to limit to a post.  However, the article can be found at Comment,  “Texas Municipal Liability: An Examination of the State and Federal Causes of Action,” 40 Baylor Law Review 595, 1988.

Sec. 101.0215 of the The Texas Tort Claims Act deals specifically with the liability of municipalities. Sec. 101.0215.  LIABILITY OF A MUNICIPALITY separates the functions of a municipality into its governmental functions and its proprietary functions.  The governmental functions are those “enjoined on a municipality by law and are given it by the state as part of the state’s sovereignty…” and are covered by the Act.  On the other hand, proprietary functions,  those functions that a municipality may, in its discretion, perform in the interest of the inhabitants of the municipality, are not covered by the Act; and a municipality is not immune from suit for torts committed in the performance of its proprietary functions. See Sec. 101.0215(b) .

Federal Cause of Action

42 U.S.Code §1983

Municipalities are also potentially liable for the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution – constitutional torts.  42 U.S.Code §1983  provides:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory … subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress…

In Monell v. New York City Dept. of Social Servs., 436 U. S. 658 (1978), the United States Supreme Court held that a municipal entity is a “person” under §1983  and is liable under §1983 if a municipal “policy or custom” causes a plaintiff to be deprived of a federal right.  In so holding,  the Supreme Court held that a municipality can not be held liable under §1983 solely because it employs a tortfeasor.

As you can see, the analysis of whether a governmental entity has tort liability under a particular set of facts can be very involved and sometimes difficult.  An attorney with experience in governmental liability should be contacted as soon a practical to begin the analysis.

Injury Lawyer

We have experience with governmental liability cases, and if you or your family member has been seriously injured or killed by a governmental entity and need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Lockout Tagout

If lockout tagout is not properly implemented, approximately 3 million workers face risk of injury according to OSHA.  OSHA has a specific lockout tagout standard 29 CFR 1910.147.  OSHA estimates that compliance with the standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year.

In simple terms, lockout/tagout safeguards employees from the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities. Lockout is preferred over tagout.  OSHA has a lockout/tagout fact sheet (available in Spanish) and a more detailed lockout/tagout publication available for download.  OSHA even has an interactive lockout tagout interactive training program.

Imagine a coworker starting a meat grinder, wood chipper, or large mixer while you or one of your body parts are in it.  Unfortunately, it happens.  Search the internet and the OSHA Fatality and Catastrophe Investigation Summaries and you will quickly learn why lockout/tagout is so incredibly important.

Exhibit A to 29 CFR 1910.147 describes typical minimal lockout procedures.

OSHA issues citations for failing to develop and implement lockout/tagout programs and failing to provide training for employees on the use of lockout/tagout devices, but many times it is too late.  Do not wait for OSHA to issue a citation.  Implement a lockout tagout program, train your employees and make sure they comply with the program.  The failure to do so can be catastrophic.

Whatever your application, there are several lockout devices, tags and padlocks available for purchase.

If you are a worker that believes your employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards,  employees can file a complaint online with OSHA or by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

We have experience with industrial or construction accidents involving lockout tagout (or the failure to lockout tagout), and if you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one and need a Texas accident attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

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