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TX injury lawyerOn March 13, 2020, on the heels of Gov. Abbott’s declaration of disaster for the state of Texas, the state Supreme Court authored an emergency order tolling (pausing) all “service and filing deadlines” in civil cases until June 1. This means that any deadline for filing a lawsuit or serving process on a party to a lawsuit is extended until June 1 - usually a good thing for those contemplating filing suit - but there has been some confusion about just how far the order extends. If you are in a position to file a civil lawsuit, you need to be aware of what your position will likely be now that the statute of limitations is no longer being paused.

Do Not Miss The Statutory Window

The Texas civil statute of limitations is a law governing the amount of time in which a person can file a lawsuit before it is barred. It is generally understood that there must be a time limit on lawsuits, because over time, evidence decays, and memories become faded - if too much time elapses between an event and filing suit over injuries sustained, there will eventually be no evidence to prove liability. However, the time limit itself depends on the offense in question - for example, most personal injury lawsuits have a limitation period of two years, while a lawsuit for defamation must be filed within one year.

Very often, an injured party will fail to file their lawsuit within the statutory period, for one reason or another (the most common is simply not realizing how short a time they have in which to file suit). If you fail to file in time, the lawsuit will be forever barred - that is, you can never file it again, as you will have missed the proverbial window. The statute begins to run when a cause of action accrues - in other words, when something happens that might be grounds for a lawsuit - but very often, the injured party will not be told about it.

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Posted on in Personal Injury

TX car accident attorneyRecently, a man was struck by a car on Rundberg Road, in north Austin, but the vehicle that struck him failed to stop and administer aid. The man was taken to a nearby hospital, while he was pronounced deceased on arrival. While no other details were released at the time about either the deceased man or the vehicle that struck him, it is important to understand that the victim (or the family of the victim) in a hit-and-run accident has options to try and seek compensation for what they have gone through. Enlisting an attorney to help with that is also a good idea.

High Frequency, High Stakes

Texas has one of the higher hit-and-run accident totals in the country, partly because of its sheer population, but partly for other reasons. For example, Texas is one of the states that permits speed limits of up to 85 mph in certain areas, which in turn can breed recklessness, especially when alcohol is involved. In addition, the majority of hit-and-run victims are pedestrians, and Texas boasts a large pedestrian population, between its cities and the rural areas in which public transport is infrequent or inefficient.

It is important to understand that leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in Texas - the Transport Code specifically states that leaving the scene of an accident where serious bodily injury or death results, without stopping to render aid, is a felony, with lesser injuries being punishable by between 1 and 5 years in jail. If the person who struck you is caught, they will very often (though not always) be charged with a crime - but you will still be able to file a civil lawsuit against them as well. The Fifth Amendment right to be free from double jeopardy only applies to two criminal proceedings - a civil proceeding is a different animal and can proceed.

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TX accident lawyerA recent night proved tragic for a woman trying to cross San Pedro Avenue, just north of downtown San Antonio. She was struck while trying to cross the street, having just gotten off work and headed home. The driver did stop and attempt to render aid, but the woman still required transportation to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. Pedestrian accidents are all too common in San Antonio, and while the driver appears to have acted appropriately in this case, too many pedestrian accidents wind up causing injuries or even costing lives. If you have been injured by an allegedly negligent driver, you need an experienced attorney to help navigate the legal process with you.

High Rates in Texas

Texas traditionally has high rates of pedestrian accidents - partly because of its sheer size, but also because many Texas metropolitan areas are not well set up for pedestrian traffic. The think tank Smart Growth America, in its yearly Dangerous By Design report, names dangerous metropolitan areas, where infrastructure issues make it harder to walk or otherwise navigate a city without a vehicle. Most of the state’s major cities and metro areas - McAllen, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, El Paso, and Austin - are listed in the top 50 most dangerous in the United States for 2019.

What this actually means is that these are the metropolitan areas that are most clearly designed for vehicles, rather than pedestrians. Lights may not last long enough for some pedestrians to make it across the road. Necessary crosswalks or curb cuts may be missing or damaged. The possibility of danger is higher in these metro areas than it should be because the city in question has not changed (and nor have its drivers).

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b2ap3_thumbnail_accident_20200302-152104_1.jpgIn February 2018, a woman from Portland, OR was struck and killed by a MetroRail train on East Fifth Street in Austin. At the time, her grieving family did not bring suit against anyone over her passing because MetroRail and its associated entities promised progress on making the area safer, as well as increasing passenger safety outreach. However, the family recently announced that they have not seen sufficient progress on either promise, and are thus bringing suit against Capital Metro, the City of Austin, Austin Energy, and other associated entities. If you have been injured, or lost a loved one, due to a train accident, suing can be quite difficult, and it remains to be seen if this family will prevail.

Sovereign Immunity

Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CapMetro) is considered a public entity, and as such, one of the first questions that a potential plaintiff has to ask if they want to bring suit against a public entity is whether they will be able to. Texas has a doctrine called sovereign immunity, which holds that the ‘sovereign’ (that is, the government and its agencies) is generally immune from suit by an individual. However, like many other jurisdictions, Texas has waived this in part, allowing suits from individual plaintiffs in certain specific situations.

WIth regard to the suit brought by the family, one can read the relevant law and hold that their suit may meet sovereign immunity standards. Texas law states that a governmental entity can be sued over someone’s injury or death that was caused by the “wrongful act or negligence” of an employee if it arises from the use of a “motor-driven vehicle,” and if the entity would be liable to the plaintiff if they were an individual. At least with the information currently available, the family’s suit would appear to meet these criteria.

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TX injury lawyerMost of the time, when one hears about people being injured on a bus, they assume there has been an accident. However, recently, one San Antonio man was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted of the stabbing of another man in October 2017, aboard a VIA bus. This is obviously a very unusual event, but it can sometimes confuse people who may not understand the difference between a criminal case like this one, and a civil case in personal injury, as is more likely to happen on board a bus.

Crime vs Civil Tort

In the stabbing case, the attacker appeared to attack the victim in an attempt to steal his cell phone, stabbing him repeatedly, though the victim ultimately survived. There was graphic video from the bus’s security cameras that captured the nature of the attack, and it seemed to begin out of nowhere. The attacker was later tried and convicted, reappearing in court on February 6 for his sentencing. He pleaded “nolo contendere,” which means ‘no contest’ and is technically not an admission of guilt. However, the judge sentenced him to 35 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, plus a fine.

The attacker was charged with a crime, punishable by jail time among other potential consequences. However, most injuries that happen on buses or other public transportation are considered to happen as a result of civil torts. A civil tort is a negligent or reckless act that ends in loss or harm to another person or to property, while a crime is considered a wrongful act against society as a whole. If there is a VIA bus accident where people are injured, it is considered a civil tort because the keyword is accident - there would be no malice or intent to injure anyone. The attacker clearly, by the video, intended to injure the victim and was thus charged with a crime.

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The sooner you call, the sooner we can build your case, secure evidence and get maximum compensation for your injuries.

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