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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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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX accident lawyerRecently, a man in his sixties sustained “potentially serious injuries” when his car flipped over a guardrail on North I-35, landing 20 feet below on the service road. As of this writing, it does not appear that there were any other vehicles involved, but this does not mean that another driver did not play a role. Single-vehicle accidents are common and can be deadly, but this can be somewhat of a misnomer, given that it is possible in some cases to hold another person liable for your injuries.

Causes Differ Wildly

Most of the time, law enforcement will immediately assume that you are responsible for your own single-vehicle crash, with no other causes involved. However, this is not always the case - and even if you do wind up being held liable for part of your own injuries, you are still able to recover as long as your percentage of fault is below 50 percent. For example, if the court finds that you were 30 percent responsible for your own injuries, you would still, in theory, be able to recover up to 70 percent of your damages.

Besides driver negligence, there are several other potential causes of single-vehicle crashes. Defective parts may be one - some defect in your vehicle or one of its parts can lead to serious accidents. Other causes often have to do with road defects, which in Texas will often be the responsibility of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) or another state or city-based governmental organization. Poor lighting, potholes, badly maintained construction areas, and the like can all be major contributing factors.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_police-chase_20191102-035656_1.jpgRecently, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) personnel attempted a traffic stop, only to have the vehicle try to flee the scene. The pursuit was ended at Rullman and Edgers Avenues, and not long after, the fleeing driver was involved in a wreck at I-35 and North New Braunfels Road. Two people were taken into custody after the accident, though no major injuries were recorded. If you are involved in an accident stemming from a police pursuit, you should be aware that seeking compensation after this kind of crash can be slightly more complex than doing so in a standard vehicle accident.

Who Is Negligent?

In a normal auto accident, the first thing that one should ascertain is whether any of the actors involved have acted negligently. In standard crashes between two or more private vehicles, it often becomes a debate over whose behavior caused the accident. If this happens to you, you should be aware that it is often possible to bring other defendants into your case; for example, a third driver might have played a role in the accident. The object of a personal injury lawsuit is to hold defendants accountable, so ensuring that every potentially negligent actor is involved is a good idea.

If you are involved in a car accident, it is important to be aware that you may have played a role in its happening. However, this does not necessarily mean that you will be barred from any recovery in your case - Texas law requires that a plaintiff’s percentage of fault be over 50 percent in order to bar recovery, so if you are held to be, say, 20 percent at fault, your award would simply be reduced for that much. The law rationalizes that very often, situations are simply not always cut and dried, and as such, being, say, 1 or 2 percent at fault should not be sufficient to deny all recovery.

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Posted on in Car Wrecks

b2ap3_thumbnail_bus-accident_20191014-233934_1.jpgThree people were hospitalized, with four more treated for injuries at the scene, after a van crashed into a VIA bus that had been turning onto northbound Highway 181 South, near Laguna Road. There were no life-threatening injuries, but the driver and some of the passengers in the van were transported to the nearest hospital as a precautionary measure. While this accident was clearly the fault of the van driver, bus accidents can go very differently, causing serious injury and even death. If you have been involved in an accident with a bus, and you have been injured, you may have a case against the driver or the bus company.

Same Causes, Different Effects

The number of fatal bus accidents nationwide have decreased steadily in recent years, with a 22-year low of 86 crashes. However, injury crashes have steadily risen by almost two-thirds between 2009 and 2017, leading to a high of 116,000. Busses are much larger than most automobiles, and between their weight and their larger driving radius, the potential for an accident is significantly higher than that of a lower vehicle, especially if the vehicle is in the hands of an untrained driver.

Many of the general causes of accidents involving buses are similar to the reasons for automobile or truck accidents. Speeding is one of the most commonly seen reasons, as well as poor maintenance on the bus (which can, in turn, lead to vehicle or part failures). Negligence on the part of the bus driver or the bus company can easily lead to a potential cause of action against the driver or their employer - transport companies have a duty to take reasonable care for their passengers’ safety and well-being, and an accident can imply that duty has been breached.

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TX accident lawyerOn a recent morning, a San Antonio woman was pinned in her vehicle after a crash with a tractor belonging to the San Antonio Water System (SAWS). She escaped serious injury, as fire crews managed to free her from the wreckage not long before her vehicle caught fire. While as of this writing, there is no indication that the woman plans to bring suit against SAWS, it is possible that she could try to seek compensation for the tractor driver’s perceived negligence. In cases like this, however, there are multiple different obstacles that one must overcome in order to prevail in court.

Potential For Injury Can Be High

While accidents with farm-related equipment are relatively rare, tractors do play an outsized role in fatalities that happen among agricultural workers in particular, with approximately 40 percent of those deaths involving a tractor in some way. Tractors and heavy machinery used by utility companies have a different function than farm equipment, but can nonetheless cause just as much danger to those who are not qualified to operate or be around them - an average of 60 people per year are run over by tractors, and collisions with motor vehicles result in roughly 50 fatalities per year.

If you are involved in an accident with a tractor, and it is not due to your own conduct, there are several different causes of action that you may be able to allege in a personal injury suit against the tractor’s driver or their employer (in this case, SAWS). You may be able to show that the driver was negligent - in other words, that if they had not acted in the way they did, you would not have been injured. Another common argument in such a case is to try to find the manufacturer liable if you believe that there was a fault in the tractor or its component parts - this case would fall under product liability law. Depending on the situation, any of these may be true in your case.

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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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