Motor vehicle accidents can have deadly consequences. In fact, more than 3,000 people are killed in car accidents each and every day. That figure equals nearly 1.3 million deaths annually. An additional twenty to fifty million people are injured or permanently disabled. When car accidents cause physical and emotional injuries, there are legal remedies available. Victims and their families may file a personal injury lawsuit to seek money damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and emotional distress. Although this monetary relief is hardly enough to make up for the loss of a loved one or the imposition of life-long physical injuries, the hope is that it can ease the financial burdens that naturally attach to these devastating accidents.
The victim of a tragic motor vehicle accident in Texas may not get the full compensation he deserves because of an asinine and broad medical malpractice law. A local Amarillo, Texas man was driving his truck along Dowell Road when a group of stray cows roamed out onto the road. A terrifying truck wreck ensued. The passenger of the truck, Bobby Tunnel, was severely injured in the crash. Today, his lifelong injuries include a withered arm, fused neck and an 18-inch scar down his back. His medical bills alone topped $700,000.
So who was at fault for the accident? Tunnel’s attorney, Dean Boyd, filed a negligence lawsuit against the owner of the cattle, Dr. Richard Archer, claiming he created a hazard by allowing the cows to wander onto the road. The defendant’s response was surprising. Archer’s attorney, Philip Russ, is claiming that this negligence case must be dismissed because Archer is a doctor. Under Texas tort law, doctors cannot be held civilly accountable for injuries and claims that involve “safety.” Texas law does not require a physician-patient relationship for this exception to tort liability to be invoked.
Intuitively, this defense seems crazy: yes, Dr. Archer is a doctor, but he was not acting as a doctor when he failed to properly maintain his cattle. If Archer was not a doctor, but rather any other position, this defense would never even be entertained. The victim’s attorney told News Channel 10 that the motion to dismiss is absurd. Absurd or not, Texas law may side with the defendant doctor. It will be interesting to see whether the Texas courts decide in the defendant’s favor by dismissing the case, or whether they reevaluate present tort law in the state.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle crash, please call the Law Offices of Gilbert R. Hoy, Jr. and Affiliates at 617-787-3700 for your free consultation with an expert Boston car accident attorney.