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TX crash lawyerOn August 10, an 80-year-old woman was driving through the intersection of Bradbury Lane and Dessau Road when she was struck by a Nissan Armada traveling through the same intersection. It took law enforcement roughly two weeks to identify the deceased woman, but eventually, they were successful. The crash marked Austin’s 58th traffic fatality in 2020, which is a notable rise from the previous year. There does not appear to be any indication that the deceased woman’s family intends to file suit against the other driver, but if they did, they might conceivably be able to file a claim for wrongful death under Texas law.

File Your Suit ASAP

When someone dies in a traffic accident, it can sometimes be merely a tragic mistake. However, if someone dies due to the negligence, wrongful act, or carelessness of another person, their death is considered wrongful under Texas law (if the connection between the death and the other person’s actions can be proven). A finding of wrongful death can result in financial liability for the defendant, both for tangible expenses like funeral costs and for intangible damages like mental anguish or pain and suffering.

Be advised that if you are in a situation where you believe it may be a good idea to file a wrongful death suit, you have a very short window of time to do it. Texas law allows only two years from the death of the person in which you can file suit - in other words, if you lose a loved one due to someone else’s negligent actions, you must file your wrongful death suit within two years of their passing, Any longer and witnesses become unreliable, while physical evidence will be forgotten or lost.

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TX crash lawyerRecently, a man was speeding near the 13000 block of Applewhite Road in San Antonio when his tire blew out. The blowout caused him to lose control of his car, with the vehicle crossing the median and crashing into an oncoming big rig. The man was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, but later died of his injuries. While many accidents of this type result in personal injury or wrongful death cases, it is sometimes possible to mount a cause of action in product liability. In an accident like this, someone who was injured (or the family of a deceased accident victim) might conceivably try to file suit against the tire manufacturer, alleging product liability.

Strict Liability

Product liability cases in Texas differ substantially from a standard personal injury action. Someone brings a personal injury lawsuit when they have been injured due to the negligence of another person and want to hold them accountable. In some states, this is the same procedure that one might use to file suit against a product’s manufacturer, but in Texas, a product liability case is based on strict liability. This means that negligence is irrelevant - if the product had a defect of some kind, and the product caused you harm, the manufacturer is liable for damages.

That said, keep in mind that when it comes to vehicles, there is rarely just one manufacturer that could be held liable in an accident case. In the Applewhite Road crash, one might think that the tire manufacturer would be the best defendant - however, it is plausible that the vehicle manufacturer could have played a role. The tire could, for example, have been mounted improperly or maintained improperly. In many accident cases, plaintiffs choose to file against multiple defendants, as one or more may be dismissed if the claim is unfounded.

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TC crash lawyerRecently, a four-vehicle crash on the southeast side of San Antonio killed one woman after a man driving a stolen car struck three cars as he ran through a red light. The man ignored a red light and drove a stolen Toyota RAV4 into a Ford Focus, which triggered a chain reaction with two other cars. One of the drivers of the other cars was hospitalized after the crash, only to eventually die from her injuries. The man has been charged with murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and theft of a vehicle - but one may wonder why the man is facing criminal charges, while many who accidentally cause the death of another person face only civil liability.

Homicide vs. Wrongful Death

When someone dies due to another person’s actions, it may result in either civil liability, criminal guilt, or both. The general principle is that while homicide may fall under the umbrella of wrongful death, not every wrongful death rises to the level of homicide. Texas law defines homicide as causing the death of another individual “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence.” Conversely, wrongful death is when someone’s death is due to another person’s “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness, or default.”

While negligence or carelessness is a standard that implies a lack of care on the part of the defendant, it is not the same as acting recklessly or with intentional malice. In short, while wrongful death and most other civil torts require a showing that the defendant did not act with sufficient care, crimes usually involve the defendant acting with no care at all. The man in the story from above cannot be said to have acted with any degree of care with regard to the safety of the other occupants of the vehicles he struck - thus his being charged with murder and other crimes.

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TX car accident lawyerIn August 2020, law enforcement was finally able to identify a 58-year-old man who was struck and killed while walking on I-35 North in April. He was hit by a truck in the early evening, but due to his lack of identification, could not immediately be identified upon his passing. While the man’s family can now at least get some closure, it is important to keep in mind that pedestrians are the most likely people on the road to suffer serious, life-changing injuries due to another person’s negligence. If you have been struck by a vehicle, you may be able to seek compensation for the harm you have suffered.

Pedestrians Are Vulnerable

The most recent available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that approximately 6,300 pedestrians died in traffic crashes in 2018, with the highest percentage of fatal accidents happening between 6 PM and 9 PM. While senior citizens are the most likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident, every age group is affected by the factors that lead to these types of crashes - for example, poor infrastructure, such as a lack of sidewalks or streetlights, may lead to pedestrians walking in the road.

The causes of individual pedestrian accidents are varied, though some tend to reoccur more often than not - speeding, distracted driving, lack of visibility, and substance abuse are some of the most commonly seen factors that can lead to pedestrians being struck by vehicles. Injuries in these types of accidents also tend to be more severe than those involving multiple vehicles, simply because pedestrians do not have the protection of vehicle passengers and drivers. The sheer weight and velocity involved can lead to life-changing injuries.

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TX crash lawyerRecently, 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.

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The sooner you call, the sooner we can build your case, secure evidence and get maximum compensation for your injuries.

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