9 people lost in 3 days in 3 deadly crashes
Tuesday’s collision north of Fort Worth
In the first of the three deadly crashes, a high-speed wreck happened between two pickup trucks. They collided outside of Springtown on FM 51 (Main Street) two miles north of the intersection with State Highway 199. Tragically, there were no survivors.
It is not known at this time what caused this wreck. The police report has not been released yet. If this happened at an intersection, either the silver truck failed to yield the right of way or the other truck failed to slow down and it turned.
We see that young men driving oversized trucks and speeding, wrongfully passing or turning, and driving while looking down at their cell phones – or all of the above – often cause deadly crashes like this one.
The second wreck on Sunday in Denton
A Ford Mustang crossed over into oncoming traffic and hit a Mercedes on U.S. Highway 380 (known as University Drive locally) around 11:45 in the morning. This horrific head-on crash tragically led to the deaths of three people including two young sisters in the Mustang who were only 5 months and 4 years old.
The 31-year-old driver of the Mercedes also died. This wonderful woman was born with a kidney disease, had multiple transplants, and was an advocate for organ donations. Her fiance and another adult in the other car were critically injured.
It is not clear yet as what caused this tragedy. It is hard to believe that the Mustang’s driver was speeding, especially with his two small children inside, or that the Mercedes driver would have been so negligent as she drove with her fiance. Perhaps there was a sudden mechanical defect or a tire blew out.
GoFundMe accounts for the children’s family and the woman’s family and the two other victims have been created to help pay for medical and funeral bills. Mr. Berenson made a donation and we invite others to make a small contribution.
The third of the three deadly crashes Friday night in Fort Worth
A 41-year-old man who was driving while intoxicated on West Loop 820 in Fort Worth at an extremely high rate of speed rear-ended another vehicle around 9:30 p.m. This caused it to flip over and catch on fire. Horribly, the two occupants died at the scene.
The drunk driver was arrested and his bail was set at $50,000. We hope he gets the maximum jail sentence and fine for the two counts of intoxication manslaughter.
And there were others who died over the last week in North Texas on our roads, including several pedestrians.
We want to extend our sincere condolences and prayers to the families and the victims of these crashes.
Is the State of Texas also liable for any of these deadly crashes?
Denton County officials and residents knew that Highway 380 was dangerous according to its County Judge Andy Eads.
There was no median, barricade, or anything other than a yellow stripe down the middle of this busy seven lane highway to separate traffic. The highway is the major east-west road across much of North Texas. The speed limit is 60 miles per hour and should be reduced or other safety measures should be employed.
North Texas has been booming for the past decade. Our highways are jam-packed. With the rapid growth of our population, sometimes drivers get frustrated by traffic delays and take matters into their own hands.
The Texas Department of Transportation had started to add the badly needed median and plans to widen the road, but this will not be completed for several years. These improvements should have happened years ago.
However the state is almost always immune from liability under the Texas Tort Claims Act.
Who is responsible for payment in these cases? Here is more information about wrongful death damages in Texas.
Do you need to hire a personal injury lawyer to assist after a wrongful death?
That depends on many factors. The family can obtain the police report and obtain the other driver’s insurance company information and attempt to settle the claim directly without hiring an attorney if it is clear who caused the crash,
We get police reports for the public at no charge if someone is not sure where to find them and do not charge anything for talking to or meeting with the family to review the facts and discuss how we can assist.
How much money might be available to the families? If an individual purchased the standard insurance policy limit of $30,000 for the injuries/death of one person and $60,000 for the injuries for all people injured (as many people do), most companies will pay out these amounts without an attorney. We will tell you that if we believe that this is the case.
However, some drivers carry more insurance than those amounts. And if a business vehicle is involved, the amount of money available will be much higher, often into the millions of dollars depending on the facts of the case.
In addition, there can be complicated legal, financial, and personal issues that you may want an experienced injury lawyer to review first. For example, there may be a hospital, emergency room, Medicare, Medicaid, or health insurance company lien that has or will be filed and has to be released. Or there can be a disagreement as to which family member should be in charge of the estate or how the funds will be distributed between the potential recipients. Or a probate case may need to be opened.
The role of the injury lawyer
The attorney will help in many ways. First, a quick and professional investigation is essential, especially if an 18-wheeler or business vehicle is involved.
He and his accident investigation team will visit the site and gather critical evidence that can be used later in settlement negotiations or at trial. Photographs and inspections of the vehicles and the scene are essential.
We have been involved with cases against tractor-trailer companies when their accident reconstruction experts and attorneys are at the scene within one hour or less of the crash, even in the middle of the night. They are telling the driver what to say and not say. He has already been coached in his training what to do if he should be in a collision and usually given a camera, list, and note pad. They are talking to the police officer and picking up pieces of evidence from the scene. You are presumably not doing this after the collision. An immediate investigation can make or break the case.
Other important work that must be performed includes measuring skid, gouge, and yaw marks and estimating speeds, points of impact, and the role of other vehicles, the roadway, weather, lighting, and factors.
Witnesses and police officers need to be questioned and hopefully recorded statements can be obtained. Black box downloads, phone records, and other evidence can be arranged or subpoened.
The personal injury lawyer will analyze the case and help the family decide when a lawsuit for damages should be filed, then prosecute that case.
Our state’s increase in wrongful death collisions
There are far too many fatal accidents in Texas. This is an epidemic that no one talks about – or does much to prevent.
In fact, our state legislature just passed House Bill 19 that ironically makes it harder to sue negligent commercial truck companies when their vehicles or drivers cause preventable collisions.
And several years ago, our state leaders eliminated red light cameras which were credited with reducing our huge number of intersection crashes.
Law enforcement in North Texas needs to be increased to prevent speeding and other risky behavior. Yet it is rare to see officers patrolling our roads issuing speeding tickets or pulling negligent drivers over.
Just last Tuesday, there was another head-on crash near this Denton site when two young missionaries serving The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints lost their lives. A driver of a Ford F-250 pickup truck in a hurry crossed over into their lane and hit their car head-on. They were only 18 and 20 years old.
On April 19th there were three deadly crashes in the DFW Area. And during the weekend before Thanksgiving, six people perished in area collisions.
What in the world is going on our there?
We must curb this epidemic
Each year, Texas is number one in categories no state wants to lead: the number of fatal car accidents and deaths. Last year close to 4,000 Texans lost their lives in a vehicle collision. This was the highest number in years.
We should not taken these for granted or worse, ignore them. It will be difficult to stop deadly crashes but they should not be the “new normal” or “business as usual.”
We have blogged about this important topic and advocated for safer roads for many years.
Our law firm has represented many families who have lost the lives of their loved ones in these deadly crashes over the past 40 years. We help them deal with the often complicated legal, financial, and emotional issues that arise after catastrophes like these.
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