What Happens When Involved In A Fort Worth Crash
Involvement in a Fort Worth crash can be traumatizing and difficult. There you are, driving along, possibly even humming to your favorite tune, and all of a sudden you hear a loud crack, your car is spinning and you are struggling for control. Fear paralyzes you and you can almost see your life flash before your eyes. You come out of the incident wounded, bruised, emotionally and mentally traumatized. You can barely sit in the backseat of the car taking you home, let alone drive.
That’s just one of the many possible scenarios for a car crash, and it’s one of the more positive ones. In many cases, there are fatalities and complete loss of property. The aftermath of a crash involves dealing with law enforcement, legal proceedings, and insurance claims on top of the personal emotional and mental struggles.
Common Car Crash Causes
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 19, 506 serious car crashes in Texas in 2019. Naturally, car accidents happen under different circumstances. They also vary in severity with various degrees in resulting damage. There are different causes for these car crashes as well. Some of the more common causes are speeding, distracted driving, reckless driving, drunk driving, among many others.
Speeding is one of the major causes of car crashes in Texas. Driving at high speeds gives the driver less time to think and react to whatever happens on the road. One wrong move and disaster strikes in a millisecond. Many personal injury cases are brought on by speeding and speeding-caused injuries. High-speed collisions cause all sorts of injuries including lacerations, brain injury, whiplash, fractures, paralysis, and death.
Distracted driving is a very common occurrence. In Texas, texting while driving is strictly prohibited. Some cities ban cell phone use altogether. There are instances when using a phone while driving is allowed such as for situations that do not require the user’s attention, such as playing music. Calling to report an accident or to require emergency assistance is also allowed. Cell phone use is not the only cause for distracted driving. A driver can get distracted for other reasons such as changing the music, eating, or even being in a heated argument with the passenger. Common injuries in distracted driving incidents include spinal cord injuries and broken bones.
Aggressive driving is another cause of car crashes. A person who is hurrying to get somewhere, or perhaps in an angry mood tends to drive aggressively. Aggressive behavior on the road includes tailgating, running red lights, doing sudden brakes or changing lanes without signaling are a few of the things that stand out. A lot of times they do these to “punish” other drivers or just to aggravate others. This type of unpredictable behavior can cause injury or death should a crash happen.
Elderly drivers, sadly, are also the cause of many car crashes. Aging causes loss of muscle tone, 20/20 vision, and hearing. Some elderly people get stiff joints and have less flexibility. These situations cause decreased reaction times and reflexes that could prevent crashes. A lot of seniors insist on driving to maintain some semblance of normalcy but sadly, they end up posing safety risks on the road.
On the other end of the spectrum, teenage drivers can also cause car accidents. Their lack of experience and poor judgment can lead them to engage in rash behavior such as unsafe driving.
Reckless driving can involve some of the behavior mentioned above. Texting while driving, racing, overspeeding, are considered reckless behavior and may be subject to criminal charges. In Texas, reckless driving is considered as a traffic misdemeanor and subject to fines of up to $200 and 30 days in jail.
Drunk driving is a major cause of accidents in Texas. In fact, statistics say that the state is consistently in the Number 1 spot when it comes to DWI fatalities. The legal alcohol limit in the state is 0.8 g/dL and a driver caught with that level or more can be charged with a DWI (driving while intoxicated).
If the driver is below 21 years of age, he is subject to the “no drop” rule which states that it is illegal to have any amount of alcohol in the system while driving a vehicle. In Texas, there is an implied consent rule where any person that operates a motor vehicle gives an implied consent for police to test his alcohol level. This is of course, if there is reasonable ground to think that the person is intoxicated.
Legal Repercussions For Car Crash Incidents
Whatever the reason is for car accidents, the result is the same: injuries sustained, property damage or loss, or the worst, loss of life. These are all causes for legal action and that is what will likely arise from these accidents, along with insurance claims.
Most car crashes result in civil suits but some do result in criminal charges. When a car crash results in civil legal action, one of the things that must be considered is liability. Who is to blame for the accident? Fault must be proven in order to determine who is liable for compensation.
How Can Fault Be Determined In A Car Accident?
Fault may be established through evidence in the form of surveillance footage, reports from law enforcement, post- accident medical records, and sometimes reconstruction of the accident. Photographs and witnesses are very important in proving or disproving fault.
An injury lawyer will likely base an injury claim on negligence in a car accident. This is when a person or persons fail to exercise due care or fail to do what an ordinarily prudent person would do in a similar situation. Under the law, there are four elements that must be present in order to prove negligence.
- There was a legal duty on the part of the defendant to the plaintiff.
- The defendant breached this particular legal duty by doing or not doing something.
- That the defendant’s action or inaction was the actual cause of the death or injury.
- That the action or inaction of the defendant caused the plaintiff to incur damages in the form of medical bills, lost income and even the suffering as a result of the incident.
There are two standards used to weigh negligence. One is contributory negligence. The element of contributory negligence is considered as a harsh standard. It means that if the injured party is even just 1% at fault in an accident, he no longer qualifies to recover any damages from the defendant.
In comparative negligence, the other standard used in negligence cases, the court assigns a percentage of fault to each party based on the circumstances of the case. If the court finds the injured party is 30% at fault, the individual can only recover up to 70% of damages.
The state of Texas uses the comparative negligence standard but with a slight modification. There is a “51% bar” rule where if the injured person is more than 50% responsible for the accident, he can no longer claim damages.
Criminal Aspect In A Car Crash In Texas
People involved in a car crash would also do well to know that leaving the scene of the accident will make matters worse for them from a legal standpoint. Fleeing the scene is a hit-and-run and results in criminal charges.
There are a few situations where the driver may be exempt from criminal liability in a hit-and-run. For example, if the driver was responding to an emergency, like if he was hurrying to the hospital and in his haste got into an accident. Another possible defense is when the driver was drugged without his knowledge and became involuntarily intoxicated resulting in a car accident. Also if the driver had no idea or was not aware that an accident or injury was caused, a hit-and-run charge may be diverted.
While a DWI car crash is similar to other types of car accidents in that it involves the same type of injuries and damage, it is different because proof of a DWI is automatically considered negligence. There is no need to prove the four elements as discussed above. The injured person only has to show that the defendant caused the damage done.
Another thing that makes a DWI car crash different from other types is that the injured person may claim punitive damages. Punitive damages are applicable when the defendant acted with intent or with gross negligence. Drinking and driving is considered as gross negligence. Punitive damages are in place to punish the drunk driver and to discourage others from engaging in the behavior.
A person involved in a car crash with attached criminal liability such as a DWI car crash, reckless driving or a hit-and-run, should seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A criminal crash case is not something for the DIY books and must be handled with care by an experienced and knowledgeable legal practitioner.
To learn more about how to organize a solid defense against criminal charges, contact our office today at (682) 204-4066. We offer services for clients throughout Texas, including Fort Worth, Dallas, Weatherford, Arlington, North Richland Hills, Grapevine, Flower Mound, Haltom City, Grand Prairie, South Lake, Keller, Aledo, Irving, Bedford & Euless.