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Texas Appeals Court Reverses Truck Case Summary Judgment


Highway 281 can be a dangerous road, and recently, while a tractor-trailer was parked on the shoulder of 281, an oncoming car crashed into the parked trailer and the car’s driver was  subsequently injured. The car driver sued the truck driver and the truck driver’s employer under the respondeat superior doctrine that says that employers are liable for the wrongdoing of their employees. The plaintiffs asserted that negligence, gross negligence and premises liability had occurred. The defendants moved for summary judgment claiming there was no evidence for the plaintiff’s claims. This is a called a no-evidence summary judgment motion, and the trial court granted the motions.

 Plaintiff Appeals

To receive a no-evidence summary judgment, the court must decide that the defendant failed to produce what is called “a scintilla of evidence.” The appeals court said that the car driver did produce evidence that the truck driver did not even turn on his emergency flashers, and that the lack of warning signals could have caused the accident. Therefore, the truck driver could have been held negligent according to the appeals court.

Not Grossly Negligent

To be considered grossly negligent, according to the appeals court, the defendant would have to prove that the truck driver’s failure to activate the truck’s warning signals would have in turn shown that the truck driver knew that by not activating the signals that he was creating a situation where injury to the plaintiff would likely occur. The court felt that evidence was not presented showing that the driver:

  • Knew about a regulation that required him to activate his emergency flashers.
  • Made a conscious decision not to activate those flashers.

Therefore, the appeals court said that the driver did not commit gross negligence by failing to turn on his warning lights. 

The Truck Driver Did Not Own the Premises

The plaintiff had asserted that when the truck driver pulled off the road onto the shoulder that he then owned, controlled or occupied the shoulder. This meant that the driver would have owned that portion of Highway 281. No evidence was produced stating that the driver owned the road, and the premises liability claim was thrown out by the appeals court.

Claim Value Reduced

By throwing out the premises liability and gross negligence claims, only the negligence claim stood and was available for the plaintiff to pursue. The appeals court action therefore limited the eventual liability amount since damages could only be realized for the negligence claim.

Get Legal Help Today

Accidents between trucks and smaller vehicles can be extremely dangerous. Many times a truck driver can be involved in a car/truck wreck and walk away with no injuries while the car driver can suffer serious and debilitating injuries.

There are many points to consider if you are involved in an accident with a big truck:

  • Truck companies should have adequate insurance to reimburse you for your injuries.
  • There can be multiple levels of defendants involved if the driver is employed by a larger company.
  • If the driver owns his or her own rig, you might only deal with one negligent party.
  • Big trucking companies can have an army of lawyers.

If you are unfortunately involved in a wreck with a big truck, please seek legal advice. The Henrietta Ezeoke Law Firm is a great place to start; Missouri City truck accident lawyer Henrietta Ezeoke will speak to you personally about your case and will advise regarding the next best steps. Call us in Missouri City today at 713-234-0030 or go online to request a free initial consultation.

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