Recently, one man was hospitalized after his BMW crashed “at a high rate of speed” on Interstate 37, near Fair Avenue. The man was swerving and passing slower cars, when he overcorrected his course and struck a concrete wall. The driver was thrown from his vehicle, suffering “severe” head injuries and a broken leg. As of this writing, he is at Brooke Army Medical Center in critical condition. No word exists on anyone injured by the driver’s actions, but this is the kind of accident that is ripe with the possibility for motorists to be injured by one driver’s negligent conduct. If you are injured in this type of accident, you may be able to receive compensation for the injuries you have suffered.
Negligence vs Recklessness
In accident cases like this, there is often debate about whether the at-fault driver’s conduct was negligence or recklessness. Texas law defines negligence as failing to uphold the duty of care that one owes to another person – essentially, not being careful enough in one’s actions. By comparison, recklessness is when someone is aware that they are potentially endangering others, but does not care at all. Negligent conduct is behavior that could have potential consequences for another person; reckless conduct is behavior that almost certainly will have potential consequences for another person. Both can lead to injury or death for someone who did nothing to bring it upon themselves.
Reckless driving is a crime in Texas, while negligent driving is a civil matter. It is possible to face both criminal and civil charges over the same matter – one might think that this would be precluded due to the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition on double jeopardy, but double jeopardy only applies when one is tried multiple times in the same court for the same crime. Experiencing a civil and criminal trial does not trigger the doctrine.
If you believe that your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you are able to file a civil lawsuit to try and recover damages. You may be able to recover both tangible and intangible losses, such as for medical bills and lost wages, but also for pain and suffering and loss of companionship. However, the state of Texas may also choose to file reckless driving charges against the person, especially if your injuries were severe. If this does happen, the criminal case will likely be tried first, as the state tends to take priority. However, this can be an unlooked-for boon to a civil prosecution, because the standard of evidence is more strict in a criminal case – in other words, any evidence admissible in criminal court will generally be admissible in civil court.
In the I-37 accident, if someone was injured by the BMW driver’s behavior, they would generally be able to proceed with a civil suit against the driver after the conclusion of any criminal matters, trying to recover for the damages they would have experienced. It is important to remember, however, that while the defendant in these types of cases is often ruled 100 percent liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, this may not always be true. Texas law holds that if you are ruled more than 50 percent liable for your own harm, you may not recover anything – but if your percentage of fault is less, you can still recover a jury award.
Call a New Braunfels Car Accident Attorney
If you have been in an auto accident with a negligent or reckless driver, you need to consult an experienced New Braunfels car accident attorney to understand what options you may have in seeking financial compensation for your injuries. The Bettersworth Law Firm has handled many of these types of cases, and we are happy to try and assist you. Call our offices today at 888-392-0039 to set up a free consultation.