Texas Supreme Court may be last stop for brain injury victim

When an individual is involved in an incident that results in significant brain injury and wishes to pursue legal recourse against the responsible party or parties, a well-planned and executed legal strategy is necessary. Brain injury victims usually require significant medical attention immediately following the incident, and often need lifelong care as a result of limited functioning that accompanies such injuries. Because the stakes are so high, the litigation involved in these cases must be as comprehensive as possible to avoid the potential for future appeals.

One tragic Texas case exemplifies the intricacies of brain injury litigation. In 2006, an 18-wheeler ran through a red light and crashed into the car of a 19-year-old who was preparing to start college on a soccer scholarship. The teen survived the crash, but sustained multiple injuries, including the loss of a portion of her brain. She was in a coma for nearly six months, and is now left with the mental maturity of a 12-year-old child. She will likely never be able to live independently.

Her father filed suit against the truck driver, the owner and a businessman who was involved with the oil rig that the truck was hauling at the time of the accident. An argument was made that all three shared liability for the operation of the vehicle, and that the businessman had destroyed evidence linking him to the truck and also paid bribes to distance himself from responsibility for the accident. In 2010, a jury awarded the family over $8 million in damages.

The businessman appealed the verdict, and the Texas 12th Court of Appeals overturned it last year, declaring that there was insufficient proof that the businessman was liable. Because the businessman is the only party capable of paying the $8 million award, the family will likely not receive any compensation unless the state Supreme Court takes action. That court has already declined to hear the case, although a new request has been issued asking the court to reconsider. This brain injury case is an excellent example of the legal complexities involved in high stakes litigation. Anyone considering a similar suit should make every effort to prepare their case with full knowledge of the applicable laws within their state.

Source: The Texas Tribune, “A Tragic Accident and a Continuing Legal Battle,” Brandi Grissom, July 29, 2012