1. Crash Data Recorders
Too often, motorists are injured and killed on Texas streets and highways. The involvement of commercial vehicles often means that specific crash details have been recorded with onboard computer recording devices. These devices often record speed, braking, and other crash related data that proves invaluable in connection with establishing a defendant’s negligence. However, it is noteworthy that these computer records are often erased or lost if steps are not taken to ensure the preservation of data. These steps may include temporary restraining orders and/or injunctions to ensure the preservation of evidence.
2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Various federal motor carrier safety regulations limit the number of hours the truck drivers can spend on the road. Various information pertaining to every trip must be maintained in driver’s logs. Moreover, various federal laws require reports pertaining to serious injury and death cases. The information contained in the log books and reports are a valuable source of information.
3. Texas Law
Texas has hundreds of separate statutes that govern driving. These statutes can be used to establish “negligence per se”. The term “negligence per se” pertains to an unexcused violation of a legislative enactment or administrative regulation adopted by the court as defining the standard of conduct of a reasonable person. The jury is instructed that the unexcused violation of a statute ordinance constitutes negligence as a matter of law if such statute or ordinance was designed to prevent injuries to the plaintiff.
Jurisdiction and Venue
In Texas, the State District Courts have jurisdiction over highway injury/death claims. The venue of a particular claim refers to the county in which the lawsuit can be filed. Generally speaking, a highway injury/death case can be filed in the county where the services were provided, in the county where the defendant resided at the time of the incident or in the county where a deceased person’s estate is pending in Probate Court.
In injury cases that arise as a consequence of highway injury/death, the victim has standing to bring a claim against the manufacturer. Additionally, the victim’s spouse may also bring a claim for loss of consortium and household services. In certain instances involving catastrophic injury, the victim’s children may have standing to bring a claim for loss of parental consortium. In death cases, the victim’s parents, spouse, and children all have standing to bring a claim under the Texas wrongful death statutes. In addition, a survival act claim may be brought on behalf of the victim’s estate to recover damages suffered by the victim from the time of injury until the time of death. These damages include hospital bills, damages for pain and suffering, and funeral bills.
A. Injury Cases
In Texas, injured individuals have standing to recover the following elements of damages:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Mental anguish;
- Pain and suffering;
- Disfigurement; and
- Physical impairment.
The damages listed above may be recovered for both the past and future. The spouse of an individual that is injured may have standing to recover damages for loss of consortium and household services. In certain instances involving catastrophic injury, the individual’s children may have standing to bring a claim for loss of parental consortium.
B. Death Cases
In death cases, the family members with standing to bring a claim can recover the following elements of damages:
- Conscious pain, suffering, bereavement, torment, extreme physical pain and mental anguish from the moment of injury until the moment of death, and for loss of the enjoyment of life;
- Pain and mental anguish, or the conscious physical pain and emotional pain, torment and suffering experienced by Decedent before her death as a result of the occurrence in question;
- Medical expenses, or the reasonable expense of the necessary medical and hospital care received by Decedent for treatment of injuries sustained by her as a result of the occurrence in question; and
- Funeral and burial expenses, or the reasonable amount of expenses for funeral and burial for Decedent reasonably suitable to her station in life.
In addition, Survival Act damages may be recovered which include the following elements:
- Pecuniary loss, or that loss of care, maintenance, support, services, advice, counsel, and reasonable contributions of a pecuniary value that Plaintiffs in reasonable probability would have received from the Decedent had she lived;
- Loss of companionship and society, or that loss of the positive benefits flowing from the love, comfort, companionship, and the society that Plaintiffs, in reasonable probability would have received from the Decedent had she lived;
- Mental anguish, or the emotional pain, torment, and suffering experienced by Plaintiffs because of the death of the Decedent; and
- Loss of inheritance, or the loss of the present value of the assets that the Decedent, in all reasonable probability would have added to the estate and left in natural death to Plaintiffs.
The information contained on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel. The Klein Law Firm maintains its principal office in Houston, Texas and handles cases across Texas. The availability of this website in jurisdictions in which The Klein Law Firm or any of its attorneys are not licensed should not be deemed or construed as advertising of its services in those jurisdictions.
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