On July 15, an unusual accident occurred in the 3500 block of I-35 in North Austin. A man was driving a sedan down the road when he collided abruptly with the back of a trailer. He later died of his injuries at Dell Seton Medical Center. While this appears to have been nothing more than a tragic accident, it is noteworthy because accidents like this do happen, and sometimes people are not liable – but sometimes the unusual nature of the accident does not insulate them from liability.
Negligence Cases and Criteria
Most of the time, when auto accident cases occur, they are brought under a theory of negligence law. In order to hold a defendant liable for negligence, four criteria must be established. You must show that a duty of care exists between motorists sharing the road. You must show that the defendant’s conduct breached that duty and that it was the direct cause of any harm that you suffered (you must also show that you did indeed suffer harm as a result of the defendant’s actions, as opposed to merely being shocked or scared).
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of a negligence case to prove is the causation aspect – you may be able to show what the defendant did, but it can be quite difficult to argue that their action led directly to your injuries, especially in a constantly-evolving situation like an auto accident. Sometimes the issue of foreseeability may come into play – that is, whether a reasonable person might anticipate that their actions would lead to the outcome.
Liability and Foreseeability
Foreseeability can be an important concept in a personal injury case – especially in an auto accident case – because it speaks to whether a reasonable person could see the cause of the accident coming. It is not possible to hold someone liable for negligence if they did were not able to know the outcome of their actions would be injurious – for example, if someone drives in a distracted manner, they may be held liable for the resulting auto accident, but if the car was struck by lightning, which then forced it off the road, the driver would not have been able to predict such an event. The key is whether the outcome was predictable or not.
One exception to this is the so-called eggshell plaintiff rule, which Texas does observe. In short, this rule holds that the defendant takes the plaintiff as they find him or her – if the plaintiff is unusually fragile (for instance, being able to prove the existence of a disability), foreseeability becomes moot, because the plaintiff should not be penalized for the mere existence of their medical condition. Thus, even if a ‘normal’ plaintiff would not have been injured, a defendant still may be held liable if an ‘eggshell’ plaintiff is harmed.
Call an Experienced Attorney Today
One can only guess what might have happened if the sedan driver had not succumbed to his injuries, but either way, the message is clear that if you are involved in an auto accident, it can become very complex very quickly. If you have been injured in a car crash, our skilled New Braunfels auto accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm can sit down with you and try to help you figure out how best to proceed. Contact us today to set up an appointment.