Articles Posted in Texas

According to a Jury Verdict Research study that was published this month, the average compensation for a personal injury lawsuit in Texas over the last six years is a compensatory median award for personal injury trials in Texas is $826,892. The highest verdict was over $100 million which, obviously, inflated the average verdict. The median verdict is only $12,281. Certainly, medical malpractice reform in Texas has not helped this number in recent years.  Unless it is a birth injury case or other claim with long term catastrophic injuries and future medical care or future lost wages, a Texas medical malpractice lawyer is hard to find.

Keep in mind too, Texas is not as much a state as several countries in terms of how they value personal injury cases.  So a verdict in East Texas might be very different from a verdict in San Antonio for the exact same case.

Sample Recent Verdicts in Texas

A Texas lawyer who botched a tragic mesothelioma asbestos case will get off scot-free according to the Court of Appeals of Texas for, well, reasons that escape me.

Briefly here are the facts. In July 2004, meso victim hires a lawyer to pursue her asbestos claims. Plaintiff had a rare form of meso called well-differentiated papillary mesothelioma. The lawyer waited until January, 2006, to file her lawsuit against various defendants that included negligence, strict liability, and premises liability. The case was removed to federal court.

Plaintiff found a lawyer for her malpractice action against her original lawyer. This new lawyer in turn hired another lawyer – annoyed yet? – who was set to testify that plaintiff would have recovered settlements from multiple tort defendants and asbestos bankruptcy trusts, totaling at least $2,000,000. Plaintiff’s malpractice expert then took the next leap of faith and concluded that these settlements should have been finalized by no later than the end of 2005. Anyone who follows the asbestos docket has now rolled their eyes in the back of their head.

Texas Governor Rick Perry will probably throw his hat in the ring to be the Republican who takes on President Obama next fall. Good for him. He’s got a good head start with George Will’s “Gee, I think you are hotter than Derek Jeter and I love the way you eat a big hamburger” article a few weeks back.

But while deciding to run, Perry has to make sure he nails his Republican bona fides by trying to run to the right of Michele Bachmann. That’s hard to do right now. But Perry wants to try.

The Texas Legislature passed a law virtually every state is passing: you can’t text and drive. Not a big controversial issue. Some studies suggest that texting is more dangerous than drunk driving. Probably a dangerous exaggeration in its own right but, still, you get the point: texting = more accidents and deaths in car accidents.

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After a near fistfight over this and a number of other contentious issues, the Texas House passed Saturday a “loser pays” bill. Under this law, even a winning plaintiff can end up losing if the award is less than 80 percent of a defendant’s settlement offer, the winner could owe more in legal fees than the award.

The Texans for Lawsuit Reform said that the bill provides “incentives for fair and early settlements and imposes risk on those who pursue meritless or abusive lawsuits.”

You pay expenses if you only get 79% of what the defendant offered. Texas has pretty much gone mad. I give it three years before Texans realize what they are doing.

A Galveston County jury has awarded $1.72 million to a man severely injured in an accident at BP America Inc. oil refinery in Texas City. Plaintiff was struck by an oil burner being lifted by a crane operator, suffering severe injuries requiring over a half-million dollars in medical bills.

On the job injuries where there is a third-party defendant exempt from the protection of the workers’ compensation statue are often the types of cases where our lawyers can obtain the largest verdicts and settlements for our clients. This is because they often involve big companies and there are no limitations on the amount of insurance coverage at issue because the company either has adequate insurance or can pay any verdict in excess of the insurance policy.

Galveston County Personal Injury Verdicts and Settlements

I’ve written in the past about personal injury verdicts in Texas. A recent Jury Verdict Research found that the average verdict in a personal injury lawsuit in Texas is $826,892. But Texas is a particular example of the differences between the median and average jury verdicts: the median award is just $12,281. You can always drive a truck between the difference between average jury verdicts and median jury verdicts. But in Texas, this gap would not be covered by a fleet of trucks.

The average is also distorted by huge verdicts that are not collectible. A Texas jury awarded $118 million – the highest verdict included in this Texas jury verdict study – to the widow of a worker who died in the Phillips Petroleum Co. explosion, but the Texas cap on punitive damages reduced that award to under $12 million.

Sample Settlements and Verdicts in Texas

The Texas Supreme Court, in an 8-1 ruling, upheld a jury verdict that found Nationwide Insurance responsible for covering injuries sustained to a Texas family involved in a collision with one of its policyholders.

Nationwide’s insured was chased by police before the accident where he collided with the Plaintiffs. Nationwide refused to pay the claim, arguing that their policyholder had forfeited his right to coverage when he began the chase. Plaintiffs’ Texas accident lawyer argued that the logic of Nationwide’s argument is if you try to run a red light, speed, or take any other intentional act not intended to cause an accident in Texas, that would also be an intentional act for which there would be no insurance coverage. The Texas Supreme Court agreed, ruling that “Texas mandates liability insurance for drivers but if ordinary Texans are unprotected from those who speed or run red lights, but intend no harm to others by doing so, then Texas is replete with non-coverage notwithstanding its mandatory-coverage requirement.”

A spokesperson for Nationwide said the insurance company is “glad the high court has resolved the issue of whether a high-speed chase falls within the ‘intentional acts’ exclusion in Texas. Nationwide intends to comply with the courts ruling on this complex issue.” So Nationwide just wanted the issue resolved – that was their goal in all of this? Please.

Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar was named in a lawsuit following a fatal alcohol-related car crash. In the lawsuit, plaintiff claims the bar over-served a man on the night of the accident and was negligent in the death of her daughter.

This is an awful case. The man’s pickup truck collided with a car occupied by three teenagers, killing two people of them and seriously injuring the third. The drunk driver was also killed in the car accident.

As tragic as this case is, I have some concern with dram shop laws that hold bars accountable in these cases just because I think it is so difficult to track who has been served what at a bar.

The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a strange rehearing of a ruling that Texas lawmakers and other groups say deprives injury victims of their rights. The issue of whether contract employees covered by workers’ compensation can seek damages against work site owners for on-the-job injuries. A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers, labor groups and accident victims have protested the decision saying the Texas high court erred in granting extended immunity provisions that were not part of legislative intent.

Interesting case. The Texas Supreme Court decision was unanimous but they get a rehearing because everyone thinks it was an awful call. Probably the best approach would be for Texas lawmakers to rewrite the law.

When a lawyer gets a verdict or settlement in a 7 figure case, the lawyer can join the Million Dollar Advocates (of which I am a member). Last week, after a Texas jury awarded $1.5 million in a truck accident involving two men seriously injured after a semi crashed into their car, an Indiana based trucking company entered a more ignominious group of trucking companies that have had million-dollar truck accident verdicts entered against them based on truck accidents that occurred within a year, both Texas truck accidents. In 2005, Celadon took a $17.5 million jury hit in a truck accident case involving the death of a U.S. Army lieutenant, who was killed after getting rear-ended by a Celadon truck. The venue? Texas.

In this most recent case, two men were driving in their car on a highway in Waxahachie, Texas (near Dallas) when a Celadon Trucking Services tractor-trailer struck their car. The Plaintiffs’ Texas truck accident lawyer alleged in the Plaintiffs’ lawsuit that Celadon negligently hired the truck driver and that its driver caused the truck accident. The jury agreed.

One of the men suffered a fractured vertebra; the other sustained a serious injury to his right knee, which required several reconstructive surgeries. The latter man also suffered a mild traumatic brain injury and damage to his collarbone.

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