Recently, drivers on several highways in San Antonio had their commute interrupted by hundreds of drivers who shut down the road to engage in risky behavior like doing donuts, shooting off fireworks, or racing each other in the main lanes. These stoppages affected Highway 90 on the West Side, Highway 281 at Hildebrand Ave, and I-10 near Vance Jackson Road, though as of this writing only one person has been arrested and charged with racing on a highway. If you or a loved one has been injured by a street racer or someone engaged in other types of reckless behavior, be aware that you may have a civil claim for compensation even if they are not arrested for the offense.
Both a Crime and a Civil Tort
Texas law on racing on highways explicitly bans participating in a race, a “vehicle speed [or] acceleration contest,” or any type of drag race or “physical endurance” test as the operator of a vehicle. Because this definition clearly includes more than simple drag racing, it is sometimes used as a catch-all charge for disorderly or reckless behavior on a highway, such as that seen on San Antonio’s highways recently.
A first offense for this is a Class B misdemeanor, which only carries up to 180 days in jail plus fines up to $2,000. However, if someone is convicted of this charge more than once, or if they cause property damage or death, the charge can rise up to a second-degree felony. While the state files criminal cases, and the injured plaintiff (you) would file a civil lawsuit, understanding the potential criminal consequences is still relevant, especially if the fines imposed as a part of a criminal sentence are steep.
As with any personal injury case, you as the injured plaintiff must be able to establish that your harm suffered came about as a direct result of the defendant failing to exercise the duty of reasonable care they owed to you. In Texas, motorists have a duty to exercise reasonable care toward each other, and if it can be shown that their actions breached that duty while causing you harm, you may be able to recover.
Something to keep in mind if you choose to file a lawsuit of this nature is that Texas honors a doctrine referred to as negligence per se, which essentially holds that if a defendant breaks a law designed to protect a class of people, and they injure someone from that class in the process, they are automatically ruled to have been negligent. For example, if a driver is driving under the influence, and they strike a pedestrian with their vehicle, they are breaking a law designed to protect other motorists and pedestrians. They would be ruled to be negligent per se.
Call a New Braunfels Auto Accident Attorney
While it remains to be seen what the ultimate outcome of the street racing charges from that night will be, it is important that you act fast if you have been injured in a similar situation. The skilled New Braunfels auto accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm are ready to help you determine how best to proceed through the legal process. Contact us today at 888-392-0039 for a free consultation.