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TX injury lawyerA true tragedy happened on February 20, when a 10-year old riding her bicycle fell into traffic, losing her life after being struck by a passing SUV. The accident happened in West Bexar County, in the Valley Ranch area, and while law enforcement does not anticipate filing any charges in the matter, it can be hugely traumatic for both the driver and the family of the deceased person when accidents like this occur. No criminal charges also does not mean that the family of the girl cannot file a civil lawsuit. If this happens to your family, you need to make sure you remain clear-headed as you determine how best to handle this.

Negligence Must Be Present

Despite how devastating they can be, not every accidental death is grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. If you have lost a loved one in an accident, you must be able to show that their passing was the result of another person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness or default” - that is, you must establish that there was negligence or recklessness in their actions. If they could not have acted in any other way, or could not have acted any faster to stop the accident, there is no cause of action under Texas law.

In the Valley Ranch accident, for example, law enforcement saw no recklessness or negligence in the driver’s behavior because everything happened so quickly. The driver likely had no time to take evasive action or stop their vehicle - and if it is generally agreed that no reasonable person would have been able to stop or evade the girl on the ground, then it is not possible to call the driver negligent. The accident was horrible, but not necessarily avoidable.

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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 injury lawyerWhen you are driving in Texas, you are required to obey the general rules of the road, including allowing other drivers ahead of you when it would be reasonable or appropriate to do so. However, sometimes you may get confused, or you may decide not to stop or yield, and an accident may happen. This kind of behavior is called failure to yield, and if someone is hurt by your failure, the City of Austin now requires that the matter be dealt with in court. This is a change made recently that may escape the average person, and if you do not know of the change and fail to appear in court, the consequences can be serious even if you plead ignorance.

Too Many Injuries and Fatalities

Historically, the City of Austin would allow anyone charged with failure to yield to pay the citation off online or at the Municipal Court, but that is no longer allowed if your failure to yield caused another person’s injuries. Those accidents are now going to be held to “higher minimum and maximum” financial penalties, with fees reaching up to $4,000 if the degree of injury is serious. These are not criminal charges - that may be another headache for drivers entirely - but these types of civil infractions can be quite costly in the long run.

The reason for the increased charges is because failure to yield has become more and more of a factor in fatal and serious injury crashes, with roughly 1 in 6 being affected last year. In 2016, Austin created its Vision Zero program in 2016, aiming for no traffic deaths within city limits, but so far numbers have not been lowering. Some of the reasons for this are out of the city’s control - for example, many accidents happen on I-35, which the City of Austin does not oversee.

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TX accident lawyerRecently, a man was killed when he tried to walk across US 281, forcing the highway’s closure between Nakoma Street and Bitters Road. The driver did stop at the scene and try to render aid, but the man was beyond help. If you are so unfortunate as to lose a loved one in that way, you may be able to file a suit for wrongful death against the driver - even if they did stop and attempt to render aid. No amount of money will bring your loved one back, but it can help to pay bills during the time you may need to get back on your feet.

A Duty of Care

Pedestrian accidents happen all too commonly in Texas, with over 8,100 being registered in 2018, yielding 693 fatalities. There are multiple causes for these crashes, including excessive speed, substance abuse, failing to yield properly, and a general lack of pedestrian-safe infrastructure like crosswalks and stoplights. Many of these are on display in the US 281 accident, most notably a lack of any place for a pedestrian to cross the street safely.

That said, a driver on the road has a duty to exercise reasonable care toward others on the road, and a failure to do so can open them up to liability. If they strike another motorist or a pedestrian, they may be sued for negligence or for wrongful death if the injured person does not survive. While there is no indication that the deceased pedestrian’s family intends to take any action against the driver, they could do so if they believed that the driver was negligent in causing the pedestrian’s passing.

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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX injury attorneyRecently, a vehicle fire on the upper deck of NB I-35, around Manor Road in Austin, caused traffic to be diverted for several hours, with fire crews guiding traffic to the lower deck. While as of this writing, law enforcement reports no injuries, there is not enough evidence to discern the fate of the driver. If you are so unfortunate as to experience this type of accident, whether it is your car on fire or another vehicle’s fire that might spread to yours, know that you do not have to suffer alone. You may be able to hold the negligent party responsible for your medical bills if the situation merits it.

Multiple Causes

The most recent available data from the National Fire Protection Association estimates an average of 223,000 vehicle fires per year, with over $1 million in property damage during the same period. The causes of vehicle fires can be legion, with anything from driver error to poor road conditions to poor vehicle maintenance possibly causing sparks or providing another catalyst. Vehicle issues may also be baked in, so to speak, with defective parts coming standard on your car or truck. It is often too late to discover this until after there has been a problem.

As one might imagine, the injuries sustained in this kind of vehicle accident can be extremely severe. Burns are the most commonly seen, as one might imagine, but other injuries may still occur, including broken bones, cuts and bruises, and others that can occur after an explosion. Most, though not all, vehicle fires may result in an explosion at some point simply because of the presence of potential accelerants in the car - for example, electrical systems or the fuel tank if your car is not electric.

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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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