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Fatal Crashes in Fort Worth Area Alarming

DWIs-in-DFW-injured-persons-vehicle--scaledThree fatal crashes in one day is insane

Texas may be fully open for business but there are less vehicles on the roads thanks to remote working, shopping, and schooling. So you would hope that at least the number of car accidents would have decreased. But looking at how many fatal crashes happened in the Fort Worth area just on Friday, it is apparent that our local highways are as dangerous as ever.

This is what happened in those eight hours:

1.  In Far North Fort Worth

A tractor-trailer, flatbed truck and pickup were involved in a crash about 10:00 a.m. on Highway 114 at an intersection near the Texas Motor Speedway in Justin. Apparently a woman driving the flatbed truck died. Other people were injured, two of them seriously.

2. In Arlington

A man who was driving while intoxicated took the life of a 21-year-old woman around 2:30 a.m on Interstate 20. Her car collided into an 18-wheeler that had jack-knifed and blocked all lanes of traffic after it was crashed into by the drunk man. The young woman was a college student, worked, and was loved by many. And shockingly, this was the third child that her parents had lost in a DWI collision, adding to the heart break.

3. Near Decatur

Also about 2:30 a.m., the 47-year-old assistant basketball coach at the University of North Texas died after his car hit a culvert in on U.S. 380. His vehicle flipped over and traveled through a fence. Other details were not reported. His team had finished its first NCAA tournament in the history of the school just several weeks before.

These stories are devastating. Any one wrongful death from a car crash or due to any other reason is heart-breaking. There are so many ways someone can get hurt out on the roads.

We send our condolences and prayers to their families and everyone impacted by these tragedies.

What causes Texas fatal crashes?

You don’t have to look any further than these three stories for the most of the answers. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the top three leading causes are reckless driving, speeding, and DWIs.

No driver expects to be in a car wreck and no one expects the unimaginable to happen. But consider these facts:

  • Texas has the most fatal crashes of any in the country, year after year.
  • There has not been a day in over 20 years that at least one person did not die in a car or truck on our state’s roads.
  • The worst city for fatal crashes in Texas was Dallas.

Car crash epidemic in DFW has to be stopped

Let’s examine what happened on Friday in a little more detail.

First crash: almost or actual case of reckless driving

It is not clear at this time which vehicle turned in front of the others to beat oncoming traffic, but negligent driving, speeding and improper lookout were involved.

If the driver of one of the trucks cut someone off, that rises or should rise to the level of reckless driving. That is defined as a person driving with the willful disregard for the safety of others. It is a criminal offense and also the grounds for a civil lawsuit.

Day in and day out, it is routine to see drivers in North Texas breaking basic traffic laws. They fail to yield the right of way, don’t stop for stop or yield signs or traffic lights, pass when it is unsafe, text while driving, tailgate, fail to stay in their lane, and drive so negligently that it amounts to reckless driving.

And in crashes involving commercial vehicles, more serious bodily injuries are practically guaranteed due to their size and weight, less maneuverability, and huge stopping distances.

This is why state law requires that the companies that own the vehicles purchase a minimum of $500,000 of liability insurance per person and more often a minimum of $750,000 for 18-wheelers.

Fort-Worth-tractor-trailer-crash-1

Here, if a large truck had sped up to make it through a green arrow – or only had a solid green light – this was the proverbial accident waiting to happen.

This helps explain why there were over 40,000 collisions involving an often enormous business truck in Texas last year.

And yet our state legislature may pass a crippling new law that will make our highways and roads far less safe by making it harder to hold commercial truck companies liable. Mr. Berenson wrote this post which was posted Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) which ardently opposes the proposed law.

Second crash: driving while intoxicated

There are many unanswered questions a personal injury attorney would want answered:

  • How long had that man been driving before the crash? How fast was he going?
  • What vehicle was he driving? Was he the owner?
  • What are his insurance policy limits? Who is his insurance company and are others also involved?
  • How many collisions had he been in before?
  • Was he alone?
  • What do highway cameras and eyewitnesses say about his driving?
  • Where was he going?
  • Was he using his phone?
  • Were the police chasing him or even aware he was on I-20? What was his speed?
  • Was the 18-wheeler driver in any way responsible?
  • Who served him the alcohol and was he over served after it was clear that he was intoxicated and would be a danger to himself and other drivers? Had the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission investigated the bar or establishment in the past? Had it been sued? What was the outcome and what did the evidence reveal? What was his blood alcohol content? Had he driven drunk before? Had he been convicted? Was he on parole? Did his car have an engine interlock?

Here’s another sobering statistic: Texas is usually #1 in the United States for the number of DWIs.

Our law firm has handled many driving while intoxicated collision cases over the past 40 years and knows that they are often far more deadly due to the speed and head-on angles involved.

Yet too little is being done to minimize this urgent problem. We have advocated for changes that would curtail DWIs including the following:

  • Increasing police patrols at the known drunk driving periods and all hours on weekend nights;
  • Requiring “no refusal weekends” in every county on every weekend, which Tarrant County is now doing (hurray);
  • Increasing criminal prosecutions and trials, not plea bargains that are heavily used;
  • Increasing funding for law enforcement and criminal courts and district attorney’s offices;
  • Requiring engine interlocks that cannot be circumvented and technology that can detect alcohol use; and
  • Lowering the blood alcohol content from .08% to .05%.

drunk-drivers-sobriety-checkpoint

Third crash: cause unknown at this time

According to news reports, the man was involved in a single-vehicle collision. But possibly another vehicle or vehicles were involved and caused his vehicle to lead the roadway. The police say that his vehicle hit a culvert which was presumably off the side of the road. As with any collision, additional investigation is needed to determine the facts.

Perhaps the condition of a smaller county road had deteriorated due to the winter storm and recent rains. The county or state might be liable for improper maintenance. However these are difficult legal cases because government agencies enjoy immunity from most claims. There are exceptions depending on the facts. More information about premises liability cases is here:

Bad roads adding to spike in car crashes in Texas. Can you sue government?

Fort Worth’s deadly crash must be investigated – about the February pileup on Interstate 35 that took the lives of six people;

Reach out to a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer if you have any questions about any crash

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle collision or have lost someone you loved, you should speak with an experienced attorney who can help you and your family. They will guide you through what is a complicated process and help you achieve justice.

Please call us at 817-885-8000 (toll-free at 1-885-801-8585) or click on this link to chat with us.

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