Fatal Car Accidents: When Should I Seek Legal Advice?

Daren Brown
By Daren Brown | March 21, 2019
When A Car Accident Is Fatal, A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The area of personal injury law we are about to cover may be difficult for some readers, but it is our hope that examining this subject matter will help prevent more deaths on Texas roads. Just last year, theTexas Department of Transportation implemented digital, flashing signs planted along Texas roads stating the number of vehicular deaths in the state. Nearly 2,000 people died on Texas roads in 2012. According to TxDOT, there was not a single day that passed in 2011 that a person did not die as a result of a vehicular accident. While the number has thankfully decreased, that doesn’t mean this is no longer a serious matter. If a loved one of yours has passed away as a result of a car accident — a spouse, parent, sibling or child — it is imperative that you know what to do and where to turn as soon as possible following the accident. This is a personal injury law overview of vehicular accidents and subsequent fatalities.

How Many Car Accidents Occur in Texas?

Statistics are where most personal injury law cases start, so that is where we'll start. Car accidents are responsible for over 3,000 deaths a year in the Lone Star State. In 2011, there were 3,000 fatalities, with 79,000 more injuries. That number is startling. Out of that total 42% of the fatalities reported were precipitated by drinking and driving. In addition to the occupants of the vehicles being severely injured or killed, nearly 400 pedestrians also die in vehicle-related accidents annually.

To say that this is learning lessons the hard way is an understatement, but these incidents do have some consistencies, which should be pointed out in the interest of driver safety. There are times it is more dangerous to be on the road in Texas.

Here's the timetable according to accident investigators:

  • At no point are you 100% safe on the road. However; between the hours of 1:30 AM and 3:30 AM you are in the greatest danger as a driver or pedestrian. The danger level also spikes around 12 noon.

  • According to statistics, the most dangerous cities to drive in are: Houston, San Antonio, and Austin.

  • The deadliest highways in Texas are: I-35, I-10, and I -20.

  • The most dangerous day of the year to be on the road is New Year's Day. More than 74 motorists and pedestrians are killed in this 24 hour period.

  • Your chances of dying in a car accident are reduced by more than 50% if you are wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision.

Please take these statistics to heart and adjust your driving habits accordingly.

What Happens If I am Charged with Vehicular Homicide?

The punishment for vehicular homicide depends on your ability to prove intent. In personal injury law, when a vehicular accident results in a death, liability takes on a whole new meaning. The burden of proof not only determines damages, but also whether or not the fatality was due to accidental circumstances or negligent circumstances.

If the death that resulted is proven accidental, penalties such as community service, probation, and severely restricted driving privileges may result through the criminal justice system. If a negligent variable, such as alcohol or drugs, caused the accident a ruling of negligent homicide or vehicular manslaughter is more likely. The defendant may be sentenced to prison and remanded to counseling for substance abuse.

In fatal car accidents, personal injury law statutes could allow for punitive damages in addition to sanctions and other fines. An experienced attorney is your greatest ally. The personal injury attorneys at Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. in Amarillo, Texas can be your supporter team through the entire legal process. 

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photo credit: Robbie Howell via photopin cc

Topics: Personal Injury, Vehicular Accidents