Fatal Car Crash Raises Liability Questions

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2016 | Car Wrecks

A man is dead after his vehicle was sandwiched between an abandoned vehicle and an onrushing car near Uptown.

According to police, the victim was northbound on I-35 near O’Connor when he collided with a stalled vehicle that had apparently been abandoned in the roadway. Moments later, another vehicle smashed into the rear of the victim’s car, killing him almost instantly.

No one else was injured in the incident.

What Happens in a Car Crash Trial

Both in court and at mediation sessions, each side has an opportunity to present its version of events. The plaintiff is nearly always the victim or deceased victim’s family, and the defendant is generally an insurance company appearing on behalf of the tortfeasor (negligent driver).

In a hypothetical trial or mediation concerning the above wreck, the sudden emergency defense would probably come into play at some point. This doctrine ameliorates or possibly excuses liability in the case of:

  • Unexpected Event: Some occurrences, like pedestrians crossing outside crosswalks and stalled cars, are so frequent that drivers should always anticipate them. In a legal sense, a “sudden emergency” is a hood fly-up, tire blowout, and other similar events.
  • Reasonable Reaction: To claim the defense, drivers must act reasonably in the wake of an emergency, by veering to the right or slamming on the brakes or whatever is deemed appropriate.

So, in the collision between the abandoned vehicle and the victim, sudden emergency would probably not apply. But, the collision between the victim’s car and the tortfeasor’s vehicle may be a different story. In that case, the plaintiff could argue that the crash was caused by a stalled car, which is not a “sudden emergency” in the legal sense of the phrase.

Damages in a Car Crash Case

Texas is a tort litigation state, meaning that car crash victims are always entitled to compensation for both their economic damages, like property loss and missed work, and noneconomic damages, including loss of enjoyment in life and emotional distress. Punitive damages may be available in some cases as well. To obtain additional damages, the plaintiff must essentially prove that the tortfeasor was consciously indifferent to the safety and well-being of others. Hit-and-run drivers, as well as drivers with very high blood-alcohol content, arguably fall into this category.

Neraly all car crashes involve complicated issues regarding liability and damages. For a free consultation with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney, contact our office. A lawyer can arrange for victims to receive ongoing medical care, even if they have no money and no insurance.