Articles Posted in Personal Injury

It is common knowledge that when a person causes harm, he or she may be held liable for any damages sustained by the injured party. There are certain exceptions to this rule, however, such as when the person that causes the harm is employed by the government. In such cases, the Tort Claims Act may preclude liability against the person as an individual. The implications of the Tort Claims Act was recently analyzed by the Supreme Court of Texas, in a case in which an individual was killed by an off duty police officer. If you suffered harm due to the negligent acts of a government employee, you should consult a knowledgeable Texas personal injury attorney to discuss your options for seeking damages.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant, who was employed as an officer with a Texas police department, worked as a courtesy patrol officer at an apartment complex. Upon arrival at the apartment complex one evening, he noticed an individual in a car allegedly engaged in a crime. The defendant approached the car and identified himself as a police officer and asked the individual to step out of the car. The individual ignored the defendant and started to drive away. The defendant drew his weapon and fired shots at the vehicle. One of the shots hit the individual, who ultimately died from his injuries.

It is alleged that the individual’s estate sued the defendant in state court, alleging he was an employee of the apartment complex, and in federal court, alleging he was acting under color of state law and accordance with his police training. Following discovery in the state case, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss based on the election of remedies provision of the Tort Claims Act. The trial court denied the motion and the defendant appealed.
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When we hear the term “distracted driving” we think of texting while driving, emailing while driving, checking Facebook while driving, or doing any number of things that our smart phones allow us to do while driving. But distracted driving is not a new concept and many activities can fall under the category of distracted driving.

Legally, distracted driving has been defined as performing any activity which could potentially distract the driver from the primary task of operating the vehicle. Almost all states have enacted laws attempting to address the problem of distracted driving. While new laws have focused on cellphone use, old fashioned distractions such as fiddling with the radio, tending to kids or pets, or putting on makeup are all forms of distracted driving that could lead to an accident.

If you were involved in an accident with another driver who was engaged in distracted driving, whether it be texting while driving or any form of distracted driving, you may want to bring a lawsuit against that driver. If you can show that the other driver was a distracted driver, there is a far greater likelihood that that driver will be found responsible for the accident and will have to pay for damages caused. Evidence of distracted driving, such as records showing cellphone use, is key to proving negligence on the part of the driver and receiving compensation for injuries and damages.

Many truckers who travel through and around the Bryan, Texas, area are subject to regulations put forward by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, FMCSA. Some of these regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can be on the road before stopping to take a break for a few hours, presumably so the driver can sleep.

These regulations are important because, as a previous post on this blog discussed, fatigued driving is many times us dangerous as drunk or drugged driving. When one adds in the size of a large commercial vehicle to the mix, it is fairly easy to see how an overly tired truck driver can inflict catastrophic injuries on other motorists.

As to the details of these rules, a truck driver who is required to follow federal regulations and is hauling property must pull over to rest for 10 hours after spending 11 hours behind the wheel. The FMCSA also has a companion rule requiring a 10-hour break after a driver has been on the road, or on duty for 14 hours. Unlike the 11-hour rule, short stops for the restroom or to get gas are counted as part of the 14 hours.

As any Bryan, Texas, resident can probably gather from our previous posts on this blog, drunk, distracted or tired drivers can each leave a person seriously injured in the aftermath of a car accident. All three types of drivers exhibit similar irresponsible behavior in that they have chosen to try to operate a machine that they do not have the physical or mental capability to operate safely. Likewise, all three types of drivers can be held accountable via a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit may also be a victim’s best means of making sure he or she is fully compensated for his or her losses.

Our law office has considerable experience representing victims of irresponsible drivers whether the driver was fatigued, buzzed, texting or just not paying attention to the road. We recognize how injuries from an accident can haunt someone from the rest of their lives, and so we recognize how important it is to make sure a victim gets full compensation for their losses up front, as it is hard to go back and seek more compensation down the road.

We help victims get compensation for both their mental and physical injuries, and we are of valuable assistance when it comes to getting reimbursement for medical bills and lost wages.

People in Bryan, Texas, and in the surrounding communities probably all know that drunk or drugged driving is a reckless, irresponsible behavior that can cause car crashes, which leave a person seriously injured. However, many people might not realize that fatigued drivers, if they are tired enough, can exhibit some of the exact same behaviors on the road as drunk or drugged drivers.

For example, a fatigued driver is more prone to missing important traffic signs and signals than are drivers who have had enough rest. While in some cases this might mean the driver just misses his or her turn and has to correct course later, if the missed traffic sign happens to be a stop or yield sign or a warning about an upcoming construction result, the end result can be a tragic accident.

Likewise, drivers who are too tired often have a very hard time focusing on the road or staying mentally alert enough to make quick decisions. They may even start to weave in and out of a lane, start to travel off of the rod altogether or unwittingly follow another vehicle too closely. All of these behaviors, which drunk or drugged drivers also engage in, are risky and potentially dangerous.

A resident of the Bryan, Texas, area who suffers injuries on the road due to a negligent driver is going to have a number of hurdles to jump through in order to get compensation for his or her medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Obviously, the victim has to get the other driver’s insurance company to acknowledge responsibility and to pay all of the victim’s accident-related bills and compensate for the victim’s losses. However, there is extra wrinkle in the mix when the negligent driver simply does not have enough insurance to cover all of the losses.

It does not take a lot of insurance to keep a driver “legal” in Texas, so the problem of someone just not having enough insurance, or other resources, to pay for an accident is more common than one might think. Fortunately, Texas drivers have the option of buying, and normally do buy, underinsured motorist coverage, which is designed to cover these sorts of situations. It should be noted that Texas treats underinsured motorist coverage as closely related to uninsured motorist coverage.

While motor vehicles are important to society and heavily relied on to get individuals to and from their destinations, automobiles come with them much responsibility and several risks. If a driver fails to uphold their duty to drive safely and is distracted, he or she could cause a serious collision. The legal process protects victims of distracted driving-related car accidents when a distracted driver harms them.

A recent bus crash in Texas highlights the dangers of distracted driving. A total of 13 victims were killed when a driver, believed to be texting while driving, crashed into the church bus. The Texas Department of Transportation reports that one in five car accidents is caused by distracted driving. The Texas Department of Transportation recently began a new campaign entitled “Talk, Text, Crash.”

The timing of the new campaign and the tragic accident comes during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which is throughout the month of April. Talking on the phone, texting or accessing social media while driving removes the attention of drivers from the roadways and place those sharing the roadways at risk. During 2016, there were a total of 108,962 distracted driving accidents in Texas, which was an increase of 3 percent from 2015. The distracted driving accidents resulted in 452 victims killed and 3,068 victims injured.

Distracted driving is a growing concern across America. Much of this is owed to advances in technology and motorists wanting to use these devices while driving. Though most adults know and agree that texting while driving is dangerous, nearly half of adults surveyed admit to texting while driving.

To illustrate that danger, 9 Americans are killed each day in distracted driving-related accidents involving cell phone use, texting and driving or eating while driving. During 2012, 341,000 car accidents involved texting while driving.

In addition, there is a 1 in 4 chance that a car accident involved a cell phone. Overall, using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of being involved in a car accident by 4 times. It is only safe for a driver to remove their eyes from the roadway for 2 seconds; however, on average, it takes a driver 5 seconds to send a text message while driving. Further illustrating the problem, 33 percent of drivers aged 18 to 64 reported reading or writing a text message while driving during the previous month.

People throughout the country, including the Bryan, Texas, area hit the roads every day for various reasons. Whether you are heading to and from work, visiting friends or family, or just running out to pick up some groceries, it is not uncommon for people to take the potential dangers of the road for granted.

Whenever you pull out of your driveway and hit the streets, there are countless potential hazards that could lead to an accident. Bad weather could lead to ponding on the roads which could lead to accidents and windy weather can affect the steering of larger vehicles and trucks. As we know, the popularity of smartphones also means a drastic increase in distracted driving from people texting and driving and even checking social media while on the roads. Drunk driving is also still a concern for anyone on the roads.

For more than 20 years, the team at Rick Davis & Associates have been helping clients throughout the Bryan, Texas, area with various law issues including criminal defense such as drug offenses, driving while intoxicated, personal injury including car accidents, as well as estate planning and wills and even family law issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, property division and adoption.

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