Wrongful death possible in Texas crash

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A suspected drunk driver may have been responsible for a fatal accident on U.S. 87 late on May 18, according to authorities. Texas Highway Patrol responded to the fatal crash that claimed the life of two children as well as both drivers. As per state law, though the accident also killed the driver believed responsible for the crash, the families of the deceased victims may choose to pursue a wrongful death suit against his estate in civil court.

According to the information provided in the limited report, an Amarillo man was driving his SUV the wrong way in the northbound lanes of U.S. 87 around 11:30 p.m. This caused him to crash headlong into a northbound car carrying another man, a teenager and two children. The force of the impact destroyed both vehicles and killed the wrong-way driver, the driver of the other car and both children riding with him.

A 13-year-old girl miraculously survived the accident and was rushed to a local hospital with injuries described as life-threatening. Police have not said why they believe alcohol was a factor in the accident, but a toxicology report will be presented as part of an autopsy to determine causes of death. If it is proven that the wrong-way driver was drunk at the time of the crash, the families of the deceased and the injured girl's family could make use of this evidence. 

A civil suit like wrongful death or personal injury still requires evidence of material contribution by the respondent. While a criminal conviction is not necessary for suits of this nature to succeed in Texas civil courts, any evidence gathered by police and accident reconstruction teams can be used by the grieving families to support their case for damages. If sufficient evidence exists, the court could rule that the driver's estate be required to provide these damages to the families. 

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  • State Bar Of Texas
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  • Texas Bar College
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  • Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

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