Recently, a speeding Ford Explorer ran a red light at Wurzbach and I-10, colliding with another vehicle. Once the crash settled, however, three men exited the Explorer and tried to run away, making it about half a mile before police caught up. The men were arrested, but each vehicle also had one passenger injured seriously enough to require hospitalization. While the men who ran face a host of charges, including failing to stop and render aid and possible driving under the influence (DUI), they may also face potential civil liability. If you are involved in a crash where someone is trying to avoid police, it is important to keep in mind that criminal charges have absolutely nothing to do with civil liability, and both must be addressed.
“Reasonable and Prudent” Speed
Speeding, as the Explorer was doing, can lead to both civil and criminal liability, depending on the circumstances. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that almost 9,400 people died due to speeding accidents on U.S. roads in 2018, and estimates that excessive speed plays a role in as many as one-third of all accidents. Most states have laws against speeding, and Texas is no exception, with its Transportation Code mandating that drivers not drive at a speed “greater than is reasonable and prudent” for the specific situation.
Speed can be a major factor in a traffic accident. It lessens the amount of time that a driver has to stop or take evasive action – which is even more of a problem if the driver is impaired, but even a sober driver must react much quicker going at speed. In addition, it multiplies the energy at play in a collision, which means harder crashes, more things breaking, and the possibility of forces being too high for the structure of a car to withstand. Crashes where a vehicle is crunched out of shape are almost always the result of high speeds.
Recklessness Is the Issue
Driving at an excessive speed and causing damage, injury, or death is a crime under Texas law, usually categorized as reckless driving. However, the state brings criminal charges – if an injured person wants to seek compensation for the harm they have suffered, they can do that by filing a civil lawsuit based in negligence law. Because the lawsuits would happen in different courts, they do not trigger the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Either of the two people injured in the I-10 crash could conceivably file suit against either of the vehicle drivers, alleging that their recklessness caused injury.
If you have been injured in a high-speed accident, your injuries are no doubt serious. Conditions like traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries, and whiplash can cause life-changing pain and trouble. Filing a civil suit requires that you show the defendant’s conduct was the direct cause of your injuries, and that their conduct constituted a breach of the duty to exercise reasonable care that every motorist on the road has in Texas. The injured passengers in the I-10 frontage road accident could, in theory, seek money damages to help recover their medical bills.
Contact a New Braunfels Car Accident Attorney
While the men who ran from their car after the crash will face criminal charges, they may also conceivably face civil lawsuits from the families of the people their conduct allegedly injured. If you are in this situation, where you have been harmed by a speeding vehicle, calling a skilled New Braunfels car accident lawyer at the Bettersworth Law Firm can help get your questions answered. Contact us at 888-392-0039 today to schedule a free consultation.