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.

Airbag Recall

Takata air bag recall

Does the Takata airbag recall apply to your vehicle?  You can use NHTSA’s Recalls Lookup by VIN using your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to find out.  NHTSA has a  Recalls Spotlight concerning the Takata airbag recall that has additional important information concerning the recalls, including a list of affected vehicles.

If your vehicle is subject to a recall, you should  contact your dealer as soon as possible to make an appointment to get it fixed.  All recalls are serious.

Hopefully, you and your family have not been hurt because of the recalled airbags.  If you have been injured, please see our personal injury blog posts on Defective Products, Products Liability.  You should immediately obtain control of your vehicle. The defective product (in this case the vehicle and its airbags) is important evidence in a products liability case.  Do not dispose, alter, or in any way spoil the defective product as evidence if you are considering legal action.

The history of the Takata airbag defects and recalls is troubling. According to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, “for years, Takata has built and sold defective products, refused to acknowledge the defect, and failed to provide full information to NHTSA, its customers, or the public.”  He also said “the result of that delay and denial has harmed scores of consumers and caused the largest, most complex safety recall in history…”  Please refer to the Timeline of NHTSA Actions if you are interested in the history of the recalls.

East Texas Products Liability Lawyer

Chris Jones,is Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law and has vast experience in product liability and vehicle crashworthiness cases. If you or a loved one are a victim of the defective airbags, 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.

 

Fatal Car Accidents, Texas Lawyer

Traffic  Fatalities

fatal crashOne cannot turn on the news without learning of another fatal car accident.  Thankfully, we are usually comforted to know that none of our family members or people we know were involved in the fatal accident.  Although it is little relief for those that have learned of a traffic fatality involving someone they know, it appears the number of fatal accidents is on the decline.

According to the National High Traffic Administration,  traffic fatalities for the first half of 2013 are projected to show a  4.2 percent decrease with 15,470 people killed in early 2013 compared to the 16,150 fatalities that were projected to have occurred in the first half of 2012.  National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2013, October). Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities for the First Half of 2013.(Crash•Stats Brief Statistical Summary. Report No.DOT HS 811 845). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you look back over the years from 1994, there has continued to be a drop in fatal accidents year by year – with 40,716 deaths in 1994 down to 32,367 in 2011.  These number are obviously still significant numbers, especially if one of the victims is your loved one.  FARS Encyclopedia: Trends.

As a personal injury liability lawyer I can not help but to attribute the reduction in deaths to the many years of trial lawyers fighting for crashworthy vehicles, airbags, safer seat belts, better warnings and instructions on vehicles, tires and child seats.

If you are one of one of those whose life has been turned upside down by a fatal accident, please feel free to review our personal injury blog and our posts Automobile Insurance Made Easy, East Texas Auto Accident Lawyer, Truck Accident LawyerMotorcycle Accident Lawyer, Documenting Personal Injury Damages and Motor Vehicle Crash, Now What?

If the accident was caused by a distracted driver, please see our posts; Distracted Drivers Hurt People and Texas Texting While Driving Ban Becomes Law. 

In cases in which governmental vehicles are involved, you may find helpful information in Governmental Tort Liability.

East Texas Personal Injury Attorney

We have experience with cases involving car and trucking accidents caused by negligent driving, and if you or one of your family members has been seriously injured or killed as a result of  a negligent driver and need a Texas 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.

Car and Trucking Accidents – Making an Insurance Claim

East Texas Car and Trucking Accidents

Experienced Car and Truck Accident Lawyer, Chris Jones of Longview, Texas is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and passionate in the representation of the victims of Driver Negligence.  Mr. Jones is rated as a preeminent Lawyer by his peers.Interstate 20 Auto Accident

It is very important to seek health care for your potential injuries caused by the accident.  Often, injuries are not noticed immediately after an accident because of the excitement surrounding the accident.  If you have any doubt as to whether you have been injured in a truck or car accident, you should immediately see  a health care provider.  It is also important to make sure the scene of the truck or car accident are documented.

We encourage you to seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer before attempting to handle your trucking or automobile accident claim on your own.  In Texas, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization certifies Personal Injury Trial Lawyers. Lawyers with experience handling trucking and automobile accidents should understand how to deal with the insurance company and help you avoid the potential pitfalls of handling your claim on your own.  Please remember, the insurance adjuster has been trained to handle accident claims, works for the insurance company and has experience dealing with  claims involving automobile accidents and trucking accidents on a day-to-day basis.  The less the insurance company pays out in claims, the higher the potential bottom line for the company.

Please feel free to review our personal injury blog and our posts Automobile Insurance Made Easy, East Texas Auto Accident Lawyer, Truck Accident LawyerMotorcycle Accident Lawyer, Documenting Personal Injury Damages and Motor Vehicle Crash, Now What?

In cases in which governmental vehicles are involved, you may find helpful information in Governmental Tort Liability.

East Texas Personal Injury Attorney

We have experience with cases involving car and trucking accidents caused by negligent driving, and if you or one of your family members has been seriously injured or killed as a result of  a negligent driver and need a Texas 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.

Safety Tips from over 27 years of Practicing Personal Injury Law

Personal Injury LawyersBuyer Beware see a lot of death, pain, suffering and horrible injuries.  The immediate goal is to obtain redress for our clients.  The ultimate goal, however, for every lawyer, should be to reduce the number of accidents, injuries and deaths so that others may avoid what our clients have suffered.

In this regard, I am sharing my list of things I’ve learned over the years to help keep me and my family  safer:

  • Keep your eyes on the road;
  • Driving while intoxicated is just plain stupid and can ruin your life and the lives of others;
  • Driving while using a smart phone to text, surf the internet, or use social media may be as bad as driving while intoxicated;
  • Do not drive or fly if you are fatigued;
  • Slow down;
  • Maintain sufficient space between your vehicle and others;
  • Before purchasing a vehicle, look at the safety data; (see Crashworthiness – Protect Yourself)
  • Wear your seatbelt;
  • Nothing good happens after midnight;
  • Use nose plugs when submerging you head in warm fresh water;
  • Use distilled water in products that force water up your nose;
  • If you drop a tire off the road, slow down before you try to correct back onto the road;
  • Vehicles are not designed for aggressive turns;
  • Read and follow the instructions, especially the warning labels;
  • Never fly into weather;
  • Always do a preflight check;
  • Never remove safety guards from equipment;
  • Read your safety manual, and follow it;
  • If you are concerned that someone doesn’t understand, they probably don’t;
  • Keep the car doors locked while driving;
  • If it can happen, assume it will;
  • Never point a gun in a direction where it is not safe to fire;
  • Never drive a vehicle in a direction in you cannot see;
  • Never rely on backup alarms alone;
  • Use lockout tagout;
  • Wear your safety equipment – hard hat, steel toe shoes, safety glasses, etc…
  • Use fall protection;
  • Better done safely than done quickly;
  • Any risk of serious injury or death that can be reduced or eliminated using means that are technologically and economically available is an unreasonable risk.

NFPA offers free safety tip sheets on a variety of fire and life safety topics.  OSHA has a number of publications that are specific to a variety of situations.

Please feel free to comment with your suggested additions to this list.

We have experience with many types of accidents, 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.

Accidents in the Workplace – Fall Protection

OSHA Poster

WORKPLACE FALLS

Falls account for over 1/3 of all construction accident deaths, and 1/3 of those are falls from roofs. Fall protection is part of an employer’s duty to provide employees a safe place to work. Fall protection is required by OSHA. 29 CFR 1926.501 specifically sets forth the  fall protection requirements. According to OSHA, Employers must set up the work place to prevent employees from falling off of overhead platforms, elevated work stations or into holes in the floor and walls. OSHA requires that fall protection be provided at elevations of four feet in general industry workplaces, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry and eight feet in longshoreman operations. In addition, OSHA requires that fall protection be provided when working over dangerous equipment and machinery, regardless of the fall distance.

Forms of protection from falling required by OSHA include, but may not be limited to:

  • guardrail systems,
  • stair railings and hand rails
  • safety net systems,
  • covers,
  • toe-boards,
  • fences,
  • barricades,
  • personal fall arrest systems.

The best form of protection depends on the situation. OSHA’s Fall Prevention Campaign and OSHA’s Fall Protection are good places for employers with questions about fall protection to start their research.  To  assist  in identifying , reducing, and eliminating construction-related hazards, OSHA has also published a number of Prevention Videos.

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 accidents involving falls and lack of fall protection, 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.

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.

Sexual Abuse, Texas Lawyer

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.

Child sexual abuse is particularly egregious.  In Texas, child sexual abuse is defined in the Family Code in CHAPTER 261. INVESTIGATION OF REPORT OF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT.   Examples of child sexual abuse are fondling a child’s genitals, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, and vaginal and anal intercourse.  Child sexual abuse also includes exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography.  Notably, “abuse” in the Texas Family Code  includes the failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child.

Sexual abuse often emotionally scars its victims for life.

If you or your child have been sexually abused, you should report it to the appropriate authorities and obtain professional help as soon as possible.

There are a number of resources for those that have been abused or are aware of abuse.  For example, see the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Texas Attorney General and other online resources.

Those with pedophilia – a sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object – are referred to as pedophiles.  Unfortunately, pedophiles are often clever at infiltrating organizations that give them exposure to their victims.  Parents should take steps to protect their children.  Child Safety for Parents has some interesting suggestions.

Examples of sexual abuse are not hard to find.  A popular camp in Missouri, Kanakuk Kamp, has been struck by pedophiles;  the first time by a Christian camp director that worked at the camp for 10 years, only to have another counselor charged with sexually abusing several campers less than 2 years later.   For as much good as they do, the Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Church have had to deal with pedophiles.  Colleges and schools have had pedophiles.  Businesses and governmental entities must protect their employees and customers from sexual abuse and sexual harassment.  Any organization that cares for children must concern itself with protecting those children from sexual abuse.

The schools, churches and various activities in which your children participate should have policies, procedures and background checks to help prevent sexual abuse.

Business and governmental entities should have policies, procedures and background checks to help prevent sexual abuse and sexual harassment.

An organization that identifies a pedophile or suspects child sexual abuse should report it to the proper authorities immediately.  The abuse should never be ignored.  A pedophile that goes unreported is likely to strike again.

We have experience with civil (as opposed to criminal) sexual abuse cases, and if you need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, or Michelle JonesBoard Certified in Labor and Employment Law a call at 903-236-4990 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Aviation Accidents, Texas Lawyer

Aviation Accidents

Aviation Accidents are relatively rare, but are usually catastrophic. Personal Injury Lawyer Chris Jones is a Private Pilot. Chris owned and operated his own airplane, and spends time around local airports and pilots giving him insight into the potential causes of an airplane crashes. Chris also practiced law with John Howie (deceased) in Dallas. John was one of the preeminent aviation lawyers of his time. The causes of most aviation accidents primarily fall with 4 general categories : 1. pilot error; 2. controller errors; 3. maintenance problems; and 4 product defects. The Federal Aviation Administration has an online Accident/Incident Data System (AIDS) database containing incident data records for all categories of civil aviation.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency that investigates and determines the probable cause of transportation accidents, including aviation accidents. The NTSB is now publishing the Aircraft Investigation Reports online.

Pilot Error

Title 14: Aeronautics and Space, PART 91 — GENERAL OPERATING AND FLIGHT RULES of the Code of Federal Regulations prescribes rules governing the operation of aircraft within the United States, including the waters within 3 nautical miles of the U.S. coast. The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

Pilots receive extensive training and there are a number of certifications and ratings ranging from Private Pilot to Airline Transport Pilots. PART 61—CERTIFICATION: PILOTS, FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS, AND GROUND INSTRUCTORS sets forth the requirements for issuing pilot, flight instructor, and ground instructor certificates and ratings; the conditions under which those certificates and ratings are necessary; and the privileges and limitations of those certificates and ratings.  Furthermore, PART 67—MEDICAL STANDARDS AND CERTIFICATION prescribes the medical standards and certification procedures for issuing medical certificates for airmen and for remaining eligible for a medical certificate, which pilots must keep current.

Like drivers, there are a number of errors pilots can make that result in accidents. It would be impossible to list them all. However, there are some errors that show up time and time in accident reports – flying into bad weather, improperly loading the aircraft and fuel starvation.

Checking the weather before the flight leaves the ground is one of the most important pilot responsibilities. In private aircraft, bad weather is a killer and should be avoided if possible. Icing and thunderstorms have no mercy when it comes to bringing down an airplane. Overloading and improperly loading an airplane can make the airplane uncontrollable. Considering the fact that there are no shoulders on the highways in the sky, checking the fuel and managing it during flight is extremely important.

Pilots should always have and use aircraft specific checklists. Above all, pilots should take their time, avoid get “homeitis”, and refuse to cut corners. As a passenger, always let the pilot take his or her time and decide whether to take off or not. It may save your life.

Controller Error

Air traffic controllers work in control towers, approach control facilities, and route centers coordinating the movement of air traffic. They ensure that planes stay safe distances apart. Their job requires total concentration 100% of the time, making it stressful and exhausting. They are an important part of a safe aviation system.

Please visit the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the FAA Air Traffic 101 to learn more about controllers. Air Traffic Control Tapes is a very interesting FAA resource allowing you to listen to actual pilots and controllers during incidents and accidents.

Air Traffic Controllers are human and do make mistakes. Considering their responsibility to keep separation between aircraft, their mistakes can be catastrophic.

Maintenance Problems

Again, you cannot pull an airplane to the side of the road when there is a mechanical problem in flight. Preventive maintenance and discovering potential problems before they occur are some of the keys to airworthiness and avoiding crashes. The Federal Regulations require a number of inspections on an aircraft. In additional to the regulations and manufacturer recommendations, a team made up of manufacturers, owners, their representative organizations, and FAA engineers and inspectors wrote Best Practices Guide for Maintaining Aging General Aviation Airplanes to help owners of aging aircraft.

Only qualified mechanics should perform the inspections and do the maintenance. The regulations are very specific in requiring the inspection and maintenance records to be kept. The log books are critical when purchasing an aircraft or investigating a crash.

Products Liability

Aviation accidents can and do occur as a result of design defects, manufacturing defects and marketing defects. Please see our post concerning Texas Products Liability, with the understanding that the law of another state may apply to the accident.

To reduce crashes caused by product defects, the FAA issues Airworthiness Directives addressing the unsafe condition and product when the FAA finds that: (a) an unsafe condition exists in a product; and (b) the condition is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design. A look through the directives reveals some of the defects that can lead to problems.

Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer

Chris Jones is a Lawyer and Private Pilot and if you or your family member has been seriously injured or killed in an aviation accident and you need a Texas attorney, please do not hesitate to give East Texas Attorney, Chris Jones, Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call at 888-236-4878 for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Premises Liability, East Texas Attorney

Premises liability claims arise from physical conditions or defects on property.  In a premises liability case, like any negligence case, the plaintiff must establish a duty owed to the plaintiff, breach of the duty, and damages proximately caused by the breach.

It should be noted that landowners may also be liable for negligent activities when a person has been injured by or as a contemporaneous result of the activity itself, rather than by a condition created by the activity.  Keetch v. Kroger Co., 845 S.W.2d 262 (Tex.1992).        

In premises liability cases, the scope of the duty turns on the plaintiff’s status.

Generally, store customers are invitees, and a property owner owes invitees a duty to use ordinary care to reduce or eliminate an unreasonable risk of harm created by a premises condition about which the property owner knew or should have known.

In Corbin v. Safeway Stores, Inc., 648 S.W.2d 292 (Tex.1983) the Texas Supreme Court set forth the elements of a premises liability in a slip and fall case:

(1) Actual or constructive knowledge of some condition on the premises by the owner/operator;

(2) That the condition posed an unreasonable risk of harm;

(3) That the owner/operator did not exercise reasonable care to reduce or eliminate the risk; and

(4) That the owner/operator’s failure to use such care proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

As far as licensees, the landowner owes a duty to warn of or to make safe hidden dangers known to the landowner and a duty not to intentionally, willfully, or through gross negligence cause injury.

As to trespassers, a landowner owes only a duty not to intentionally, willfully, or through gross negligence cause injury.

It should also be noted that Texas has a recreational use statute which limits the liability of who open their land for recreational purposes. TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE §§ 75.001 -.004. 

A general contractor in control of the premises may be liable for two types of negligence in failing to keep the premises safe: that arising from an activity on the premises, and that arising from a premises defect.” Clayton W. Williams, Jr., Inc. v. Olivo, 952 S.W.2d 523 (Tex. 1997).

Examples of potential premises liability and negligent activity cases against landowners would be, among others, a slip and fall on ice as a result of an ice dispenser, falling objects or merchandise, failure to remove rowdy customers, misapplication of wax on a floor, unstable platforms or stairs, rotten wood allowing a fall through a floor.

In cases in which governmental vehicles are involved, you may find helpful information in Governmental Tort Liability.

We have experience with premises liability cases, and if you or your family member has been seriously injured or died on a dangerous premises or as a result of a premises owner’s negligent activity 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.

Rules of Evidence in Jury Trials

If you have ever served on a jury or watched trials on television, you have seen lawyers object to evidence that the jury was not allowed to see. It raises the question in the jury’s mind of “why they are keeping information from us if the trial is about truth and justice”. The answer to this question lies in the rules of evidence. The Texas Rules of Evidence state that ” [t]hese rules shall be construed to secure fairness in administration, elimination of unjustifiable expense and delay, and promotion of growth and development of the law of evidence to the end that the truth may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined.” The Federal Rules of Evidence have a similar purpose.

LIABILITY INSURANCE

One issue that seems to come up in voir dire is insurance. The rules state that “[e]vidence that a person was or was not insured against liability is not admissible upon the issue whether the person acted negligently or otherwise wrongfully.” Rule 11. There are circumstances where the existence of insurance coverages is allowed in evidence, but the general assumption by Defendants is that the jury is more likely to find liability if they know the Defendant is insured. Watch the lawyers in the courtroom freeze when insurance is mentioned by a witness, jury panel member or anyone. In fact, courts will go so far as to prevent the lawyers from asking if anyone works for an insurance company during voir dire – hence the question “is anyone involved in the claims handling process”.

CHARACTER EVIDENCE

Character Evidence is another area that can cause a fight “outside the presence of the jury”. Rule 404 provides ” [E]vidence of a person’s character or character trait is not admissible for the purpose of proving action in conformity therewith on a particular occasion”. In other words, the jury should not find that a person or entity is guilty of a wrongful act on a particular occasion on the basis that they had done it before. Character evidence may be admissible if it is a habit or to prove defect in a product where there have been other similar instances.

SUBSEQUENT REMEDIAL MEASURES

After an accident, the defendant may take measures that, if taken before the accident, would have made the injury or harm less likely to occur. Although there are circumstances where such measures are admissible, Rule 407 provides that evidence of the subsequent remedial measures is not admissible to prove negligence, culpable conduct, a defect in product, a defect in product’s design, or a need for a warning or instruction. The rationale behind the rule is that you do not want to penalize or prevent a Defendant from doing what is necessary to prevent others from being injured.

OPINIONS AND EXPERT TESTIMONY

Rule 702 seems like a simple rule: “[i]f scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.” In cases involving experts, huge amounts of time are spent dealing with whether an expert should be allowed to testify. Ultimately, it is up to the jury to decide whether to believe an expert, but case-law requires the Court to act as a gatekeeper and examine the qualifications of an expert and the opinions they are giving before allowing them to testify.

Obviously, there are many Rules of Evidence, but these are examples of areas that may come up during a trial that require the court to dismiss the jury to the jury room so that rulings can be made.

It may seem that the Court and lawyers are wasting the jury’s time or hiding evidence from the jury, but what they are doing is following the rules in an effort to see that “the truth may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined.”  In you are on a jury, simply follow the Court’s instructions, require the other jurors to do the same, and justice should be served.

If you are in need of an experienced  Personal Injury or Labor and Employment Lawyer in East Texas or local counsel in Gregg County or the Eastern District of Texas,  please contact Chris Jones or Michelle Jones, Jones & Jones, Attorneys at Law, at 888-236-4878 or contact us by email.

Defective Products, Products Liability, East Texas Attorney

Defective products can seriously injure and kill you.

We use “products” every day.  As consumers we count on manufacturers to manufacture and sellers to sell safe products.  In fact, most consumers probably assume the products they buy at local stores and dealerships are safe.  But that is not always the case. What is a defective product?  There are design defects, manufacturing defects, and marketing defects.  This post discusses Texas products liability law which is controlled by Chapter 82 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

This best way to understand what Texas law requires is to look at the  instructions the Judge will give the jury in a Texas products liability or defective product case.

Design Defect

In Texas, a “design defect” is a condition of the product that renders it unreasonably dangerous as designed, taking into consideration the utility of the product and the risk involved in its use. For a design defect to exist there must have been a safer alternative design.

Safer alternative design” means a product design other than the one actually used that in reasonable probability—

(1) would have prevented or significantly reduced the risk of the occurrence or injury in question without substantially impairing the product’s utility and

(2) was economically and technologically feasible at the time the product left the control of DEFENDANT by the application of existing or reasonably achievable scientific knowledge.

Manufacturing Defect

A “manufacturing defect” in a defective product means that the product deviated in its construction or quality from its specifications or planned output in a manner that renders it unreasonably dangerous.   An “unreasonably dangerous” product is one that is dangerous to an extent beyond that which would be contemplated by the ordinary user of the product, with the ordinary knowledge common to the community as to the product’s characteristics.

Marketing Defect

A “marketing defect” with respect to a defective product means the failure to give adequate warnings of the product’s dangers that were known or by the application of reasonably developed human skill and foresight should have been known or failure to give adequate instructions to avoid such dangers, which failure rendered the product unreasonably dangerous as marketed.

“Adequate” warnings and instructions mean warnings and instructions given in a form that could reasonably be expected to catch the attention of a reasonably prudent person in the circumstances of the product’s use; and the content of the warnings and instructions must be comprehensible to the average user and must convey a fair indication of the nature and extent of the danger and how to avoid it to the mind of a reasonably prudent person.

An “unreasonably dangerous” product is one that is dangerous to an extent beyond that which would be contemplated by the ordinary user of the product with the ordinary knowledge common to the community as to the product’s characteristics.

Unfortunately, products liability and defective product cases are difficult and expensive allowing only cases with the most serious injuries and or deaths to proceed.  Even so, you can and should report potential defective products to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If your potential defective product claim involves an automobile defect, please see our personal injury blog post Crashworthiness.  We have handled a number of automotive defect claims involving roof crush,  fuel fed fires, seat belts, defective window glass, rollover, tires, doors opening during crashes.  Among other defective product cases we have handled are cases involving medications, boats, lawn mowers, steering systems,  child restraints, chain saws, backup alarms and firearms.  If your potential claim concerns an aviation product, please see our personal injury blog post Aviation Accidents.

The defective product is important evidence in a products liability case.  Do not dispose, alter, or in any way spoil the defective product as evidence if you are considering legal action.

We have experience with products liability cases, and if you or your family member has been seriously injured or died as a result of a defective product 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.

Car Accidents, Negligent Driving, East Texas Attorney

Texas Car Accidents

Car Accidents are caused by negligent driving. Yes, this is obvious, but what exactly does negligent driving mean?

If you have a car wreck and end up in court, the question for the jury will be:

Did the negligence, if any, of DEFENDANT DRIVER proximately cause the accident in question?  YES or NO

” Negligence,” when used with respect to the conduct of DEFENDANT DRIVER means failure to use ordinary care, that is, failing to do that which a person of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances or doing that which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances.

The law requires ______________. A failure to comply with this law is negligence in itself.

It is safe to assume that “a person of ordinary prudence” will follow the Texas Drivers Handbook.  But when was the last time you looked through the Texas Drivers Handbook?  Take a look now.  You will find something you didn’t know about driving, or that you have forgotten.

Have you ever read the Texas Rules of the Road in Chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code?  There are specific requirements for drivers depending on the situation.  Do it wrong and you may not only receive a citation, but may also be found guilty of negligence per se if you cause an accident. Negligence per se is when a person’s expected standard of conduct is defined by a statute – instead of being judged by the ordinary prudent person test.  In other words, fill in the blank above with the law violated and the judge is now instructing the jury that the DEFENDANT DRIVER was negligent.

Did you know that there are also specific laws on what you must do if you are in an accident?  Please also review  CHAPTER 550. ACCIDENTS AND ACCIDENT REPORTS of the Texas Transportation Code.

NHTSA did a study in 2008 and found that motor vehicle traffic crashes were the leading cause of death for every age 3 through 6 and 8 through 34.  There many statistics,  but one death caused by negligent driving is one death too many.

Know the rules of the road,  keep your eyes on the road, put down the cell phone, do not drive if you are intoxicated or fatigued, and drive defensively.

To avoid car accidents the Texas Drivers Handbook recommends:

DEFENSIVE DRIVING
To avoid crashes, the defensive driver should:
1. Stay alert and keep his eyes moving so that he [or she] can keep track of what is happening at all times.
2. Look for trouble spots developing all around him [or her].
3. Have a plan of action if the other driver does the wrong thing.
4. Know that the law requires drivers to protect each other from their own mistakes.

You cannot drive defensively if you are DRIVING WHILE DISTRACTED.  According to NHTSA, you are 23 times more likely to be in a crash if you text while driving.  So “OMG” please put down the phone and watch the road while driving.

If the accident was caused by a distracted driver, please see our posts; Distracted Drivers Hurt People and Texas Texting While Driving Ban Becomes Law. 

This post was not meant to be the lecture it turned out to be.  Oh well, if it helps one person drive safer, then it was worth posting.

Please also refer to our personal injury blog and our posts, East Texas Auto Accident Lawyer, Truck Accident LawyerMotorcycle Accident Lawyer,  Documenting Personal Injury Damages and Motor Vehicle Crash, Now What?

East Texas Personal Injury Attorney

We have experience with cases involving car accidents caused by negligent driving, and if you or one of your family members has been seriously injured or killed as a result of negligent driving and need a Texas 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.

Nursing Home Neglect

Nursing Home Neglect is serious.  It is serious for those being abused, those abusing and those failing to report the abuse.  If you believe a person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities is being abused, neglected, or exploited, report it to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS).  Obviously, you need to call 911 or your local law enforcement agency if the situation is a life threatening or emergency situation.

When the time comes for a loved one to live in a nursing home, it is often difficult.  Concern about whether they will be cared for properly and treated with respect should not be part of the equation. Nursing homes are paid to provide quality care.  When they do not, something should be done.  Out of fear of retaliation, the nursing home resident may not report abuse or neglect.  They are dependent on the nursing home and its employees.  The last thing they want to do is lose what care they are receiving.   For this reason, it is incumbent on those who visit the home to keep a look out for problems and report them as soon as they have concerns.

You can use the Texas Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation Reporting System website for reporting suspicions of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children, adults with disabilities, or people who are elderly (65 years or older) or call the Report Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation hotline at   1-800-252-5400 .

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) Consumer Rights and Services also takes complaints about the treatment of people who receive services in long-term care facilities or in their homes. 

Complaints (reports of abuse):
1-800-458-9858
Nursing Home Information:
1-800-252-8016

Medicare has a tool to compare nursing homes you may also be helpful – Medicare Nursing Home Finder.

When nursing home negligence results in injuries and deaths, you should not hesitate to hire a lawyer.

We have experience with cases involving nursing home neglect, and if you or your family member has been seriously injured or died as a result of nursing home neglect and need a Texas 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.

Texas Truck Accidents

18 Wheeler Truck Accidents

Truck accidents accounted for 3,380 fatalities and 74,000 people injured in the United States in 2009.  296,000 large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds) were involved in traffic crashes according the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Texas has one of the best systems of interstates and highways.  A map of the United States Interstate System reveals why there are a large number of 18 wheeler trucks on the roads of Texas.  Unfortunately, trucks on the roads ultimately lead to truck accidents, injuries and deaths and the need for an experienced Texas truck accident Lawyer.

Truck drivers have a difficult job.  They are subject to a number of laws and regulations.  Even though there are regulations concerning hours of service, truck drivers drive for long hours – and must be completely attentive the entire time. If a truck driver daydreams, texts or simply fails to keep their eyes on the road, they can quickly cause an accident.  Many truck accidents are catastrophic.

Although most 18 wheeler truck drivers do not understand physics formulas and calculations, they must respect the laws of physics if they are to avoid accidents. You do not need to understand Albert Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence equation (E = mc2) to realize that an 80,000 pound mass traveling at a speed of 55 to 75 mph is a huge amount of potentially destructive energy that must be controlled by the driver.

Federal Motor Carrier Rules and Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) provide rules and regulations that Federal Motors Carriers must follow. The Texas Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Handbook provides driver license testing information for drivers who wish to have a Texas commercial driver license (CDL). Thankfully, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) are being amended to restrict the use of hand-held mobile telephones by drivers of commercial motor vehicles. There are many rules and regulations which, if followed, will help avoid truck accidents.

Truck Accident Evidence

Every truck accident is different, but there is important evidence that should be collected after any trucking accident.  The regulations require the drivers to keep logs which can be examined.  The truck and its maintenance records are important evidence.  Some trucks may be equipped with GPS and other transmitters that allow the home base to locate the truck and monitor the speeds of the truck.  There should be fuel receipts that can be used to retrace the route taken, and may help determine the hours worked and speeds driven by the driver.  If documented soon after the accident, the scene will have clues as to what happened.  In more serious accidents, the highway patrol will often document the scene and perform an accident reconstruction. Eyewitnesses can be extremely important evidence.  There are many other types of evidence that may be important.  The trucking companies know this and start collecting evidence immediately.  For this reason, it is important to hire a lawyer with whom you are comfortable as soon as possible after an accident.

You may also refer to our posts, Truck Accident Lawyer, Documenting Personal Injury Damages and Motor Vehicle Crash, Now What?.

Experienced Texas Truck Accident Attorney

We have experience with truck accidents, and if you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an accident and need a Texas truck 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.

Documenting Personal Injury Damages

Documenting your personal injury damages after an accident causing personal injuries or death is extremely important.  Juries come into the courtroom conditioned by cries for tort reform and claims of jackpot justice.  For jurors to understand your damages, especially your personal injuries such as pain and suffering and mental anguish, they must see them to appreciate them.

Even though most cases settle, a fair settlement is based upon what the jury may find as the dollar amount of damages.  It is easy to calculate past medical expenses, future medical expenses, past lost earnings, future loss of earning capacity and property damages.  Pain and suffering, mental anguish and physical impairment are more difficult to prove and often depend on how well these damages are documented.

Photographs and video are excellent ways to document personal injury damages.  With cell phones that take photos and videos, there are many opportunities to make a record of the accident scene, property damage, bruises, lacerations, stitches,  hospital stays, trips to the doctor, difficulty in doing simple things such as getting dressed or grooming.  Bruises fade, stitches and casts are removed and thankfully, people get better.

Photographs or videos?  It depends on the situation, but both are usually the best answer.  Digital photos and videos  are easy to share, and the videos can be edited to make the trial presentation flow.

Obviously, seeking medical care is the first priority!  When possible you should always photograph and video your injuries and damage to the vehicles.  If you are documenting the accident scene, do it safely.  Do not get in the roadway and cause another accident!

Consider having someone video you doing the simple activities that are difficult because of your injuries.

If the accident involves a death, consider documenting the funeral.  You should also gather photographs of your lost loved one doing the things they enjoyed and spending time with the family.

Finally, as creepy as it seems, be aware that the Defendant may attempt to video or photograph you doing things that you say you cannot do.  If there is a vehicle with dark windows sitting across the street, you may be being watched!

If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an accident, please do not hesitate to give Chris JonesBoard Certified Personal Injury Trial Law, a call for a free initial consultation or send us a message at Contact Us.

Electrocution Attorney

Experienced Electrocution Attorney

Chris Jones has handled electrocution and electrical contact cases on both the Plaintiff and Defense sides of the docket. Using the experience learned defending the utility, we now represent the victims of electrocutions and electrical burns against Electric Utilities.

We recently successfully represented the family of a young man who was electrocuted on an oil rig, and another family of a man who was electrocuted while trimming trees.  We also recently represented a young  man who lost his arm when he contacted a distribution line that was hanging too low.

Early in hisdanger electricity career, Chris defended an electric utility against a case involving a young man who was electrocuted in his front yard while checking on his dog. The dog was whining in the rain. As it turned out, the dog was chained to a metal spike driven into the ground. Unfortunately, the spike was contacting live electrical wiring that once fed an electric light, and when the gentleman grabbed the chain, making all of the links come together, he and the dog were electrocuted. The case went to trial and resulted in a defense verdict, probably because the wiring was on the customer side of the meter, and the gentleman likely knew there was wiring in his front yard before he drove the stake into the ground. Chris also defended the utility in a trial where a utility distribution line fell on a residential service drop causing high voltage to blast through a home.

We know how to handle electrocution cases.  They are not easy cases and you need an attorney experienced in these cases.

One thing is for sure, and everyone asked in depositions agrees, electricity is dangerous! Not all electrical contracts are deadly, but electrical burns are painful and devastating injuries.  It needs to be treated with respect and the electric codes and electrical safety standards must be followed. The IEEE publishes the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). The NESC sets forth standards for the practical safeguarding of persons during the installation, operation, or maintenance of electric supply and communication lines and associated equipment. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes the National Electrical Code (NEC). The purpose of the NEC is ” the practical safeguarding of persons and property from hazards arising from the use of electricity.” The NESC basically applies to electric supply (power) and communications utilities and is used primarily by utility engineers and utility lineman. The NEC covers wiring in buildings and is primarily used by engineers and electricians. At times, the NEC and NESC overlap. Safe work practices and compliance with OSHA regulations and use of safe equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions can reduce the risks of electricity. There are also electrical devices that may help reduce risks. The use of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) in the home and workplace should always be considered. Use a qualified electrician for electrical work. The discovery of electricity completely changed civilization. We use it every day. Even so, we need to respect it and do everything we can to make sure its only effects are beneficial, and not harmful or deadly.

East Texas Personal Injury Attorney

We have experience with cases involving electrocution and electrical contact accidents, and if you or one of your family members has been seriously injured or killed as a result of an electrical contact and need a Texas 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.

Automobile Insurance Made Easy

The Texas Department of Insurance has a great page entitled Automobile Insurance Made Easy where they describe the 8 automobile insurance basic coverages.   It is important to understand these coverages after an accident;

1.  Liability  (Basic liability coverage meets the state’s financial responsibility requirement.)

2.  Collision (damage to your car)

3.  Comprehensive (physical damage other than collision)

4.  Medical Payments

5.  Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

An insurance company must offer you $2,500 in PIP, but you can buy more. If you don’t want PIP, you must reject it in writing.

6.  Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM UIM)

There are two types of UM UIM coverage:

  • Bodily injury UM/UIM pays for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and permanent or partial disability. There is not a deductible with this type.
  • Property damage UM/UIM pays for auto repairs, a rental car, and damage to items in your car.

Insurance companies must offer UM/UIM coverage. If you don’t want it, you must reject it in writing.

7. Towing and Labor

8.  Rental Reimbursement

It may be even more important to understand what the coverages you are receiving when purchasing your automobile insurance.  You do not want to learn after an accident that you would be able to recover you losses if you would have purchased one of the above coverages.  We recommend purchasing coverage beyond the state mandated Liability coverage.  Personal Injury Protection and Uninsured Underinsured Motorist Coverages are both important coverages to have to help protect yourself and your family.  Again, you must reject both of these coverages in writing.  Please have your insurance agent explain all of the coverages in detail, but understand the benefits of Personal Injury Protection and Uninsured Underinsured Motorist Coverage before rejecting them.  If you are involved in a car accident, there is a good chance that you will wish you had not rejected these coverages.

Please also refer to our personal injury blog and our posts, East Texas Auto Accident Lawyer, Truck Accident LawyerMotorcycle Accident LawyerDocumenting Personal Injury Damages and Motor Vehicle Crash, Now What?

I you have been involved in a car accident 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.

Crashworthiness – Protect Yourself

Crashworthiness – the degree to which a vehicle will protect its occupants from the effects of an accident. The easiest way to understand “crashworthiness’ is to imagine that you are in the grocery store buying eggs. They are stacked in a basket and you need carry them to the register and then take them home without breaking them. How are you going to do it? You need to put them in a container that will protect them. Thankfully, Joseph Coyle of British, Columbia invented the egg carton. The carton keeps the eggs enclosed, keeps the eggs from contacting each other and absorbs energy and shocks, and doesn’t collapse when stacked. The more crashworthy the carton, the safer the eggs. Thank you Mr. Coyle.

The same principles apply to protecting us. If the automotive and child restraint manufacturers apply these principles in their designs, it can help prevent catastrophic injuries and deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a website dedicated to Vehicle Safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is also “dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — from crashes on the nation’s highways” and also publishes vehicle safety information. Another NHTSA website to research is safercar.gov.

What can we do with this information? Since crashworthiness is about preventing injuries and deaths, the time to learn about it is before you or you family members are in a crash. Research the vehicles you drive. Research before you buy new vehicles. Research child restraints before you buy them for your children. Understand how to use them. Always take them time to make sure you and your passengers are buckled, and bucked properly. Even the best seat belts and child restraints can not protect you if you do not use them.

Finally, if you or you loved ones have been seriously injured in a crash and the vehicle failed to protect you please see our post Defective Products. We have handled a number of vehicle crashworthiness lawsuits against the automotive manufacturers, and have hopefully helped make vehicles safer. If you need an experienced 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.

Car Accident, Now What?

You have been involved in a car accident.  Now what?

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A MOTOR VEHICLE CRASH from Chapter 11 of the Texas Driver’s Handbook provides:

1. If you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of a person, you must immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the crash (or as close as possible to the scene of the crash) without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. If your vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the crash, you must immediately return to the scene of the crash. You must remain at the scene of the crash until you have complied with the following:

a. Give your name and address, the registration number of the vehicle you were driving, and the name of your motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;

b. Show your driver license (if requested and available) to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; and

c. Provide any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangement for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.

Failure to stop and comply with the above requirements is an offense punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for up to 5 years; confinement in the county jail for up to 1 year; a fine not to exceed $5,000; or both the fine and imprisonment or confinement. (This is for the 1st offense. Second and subsequent offenses have enhanced penalties.)

2. If you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in a crash resulting ONLY in damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person, you must immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close as possible to the scene of the crash without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. If your vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the crash, you must scene of the crash (or, if the crash occurs on a main lane, ramp, or shoulder, median, or adjacent area and each vehicle involved can be normally and safely driven, each operator shall move their vehicle as soon as possible to a designated crash investigation site, if available, a location on the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location) until you have complied with the following:

a. Give your name and address, the registration number of the vehicle you were driving, and the name of your motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;

b. Show your driver license (if requested and available) to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision; and

c. Provide any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangement for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.

3. If you are operating a motor vehicle that collides with and damages an unattended vehicle, you must immediately stop and;

a. Locate the operator or owner of the unattended vehicle and give that person the name and address of the operator and owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle; or

b. Leave in a conspicuous place in (or securely attach in a plainly visible way to) the unattended vehicle a written notice giving the name and address of the operator and the owner of the vehicle that struck the unattended vehicle and a statement of the circumstances of the collision.

4. If you are operating a motor vehicle that is involved in a crash resulting ONLY in damage to a fixture or landscaping legally on or adjacent to a highway, you must:

a. Take reasonable steps to locate the owner (or person in charge) of the property and to notify them of the crash and of your name and address and the registration number of the vehicle you were driving;

b. If requested and available, you must show your driver license to the owner or person in charge of the property; and

c. If the crash is not investigated by a law enforcement officer and the crash resulted in injury to or the death of a person or damage to the property of any one person to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more, you must make a written report of the crash and file the report with the Texas Department of Transportation not later than the 10th day after the date of the crash.

Failure to comply with the above requirements is an offense. If the damage to ALL vehicles is less than $200, this offense is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500. If the damage to ALL vehicles is $200 or more, this offense is a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000; confinement in jail for up to 180 days; or both such fine and confinement. (This is for the 1st offense. Second and subsequent offenses have enhanced penalties).

5. If you are operating a vehicle involved in a crash that results in injury or death of a person or damage to a vehicle to the extent that it cannot be normally and safely driven, you must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the crash to the: local police department if the crash occurred in a municipality; local police department or the sheriff’s office if the crash occurred not more than 100 feet outside the limits of a municipality; or sheriff’s office or the nearest office of the Texas Department of Public Safety if occurs elsewhere.

6. When you give your name, address, vehicle registration number, and insurance information to anyone who was involved in the crash, if requested and available, you must also show your driver license to the other driver(s) involved in the crash. Be sure to get the same information from the other driver(s). Record the insurance company name and the policy number exactly as shown on the driver’s proof-of-insurance card. Similar company names can cause confusion. If you have the name of the driver’s company, call the Texas Department of Insurance toll-free at 1-800-252-3439 to get the company address and telephone number.

7. Remember, if you are involved in a crash and the crash is not investigated by a law enforcement officer and the crash resulted in death or damage to the property of any one person to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more, you must make a written report of the crash and must file the written report with the Texas Department of Transportation not later than the 10th day after the date of the crash. The written report must be on the appropriate form approved by the Department.

8. If you are involved in a hit-and-run crash, report this to a law enforcement agency for investigation. The Texas Department of Insurance advises that uninsured motorist coverage will pay for damage in hit-and-run crashes reported to a law enforcement agency.

AIDING THE INJURED

When calling a doctor or ambulance, state the place of the crash clearly and correctly.  Do not assume that people are not injured simply because they say they are not. Send for skilled help as quickly as possible. Unskilled handling can do more harm than good.

Do not move or lift the victim unless it is absolutely necessary. If victims must be moved get help and try not to change the position in which they were found.

Stop serious bleeding with thick cloth pads, as clean as possible, applied with pressure by hand or by bandaging.

Keep the victim comfortable. If it is hot, cool the victim and provide shade as much as possible. If it is cool, cover the victim with blankets or coats if necessary and if available.

After obtaining health care, you should consider hiring a lawyer.  You will also want to notify your insurance company of the accident.   You should seriously consider hiring a lawyer before giving  statements, allowing anyone to record you or signing anything.

There are also specific laws on what you must do if you are in a car accident.  Please also review  CHAPTER 550. ACCIDENTS AND ACCIDENT REPORTS of the Texas Transportation Code.

If the accident involved a 18 wheeler truck, please see our post Texas Truck Accidents.  Please also see our Negligent Driving post.

Please see our page Hiring a Lawyer for more information. We have experience with car  accidents, and if you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in a car accident and need an East Texas  attorney, please do not hesitate to give Longview 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.

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