With this cold weather we’ve had the past few days, it’s not a surprise that there have been more wrecks than usual.
In one high profile accident, three members of Willie Nelson’s band were injured on Saturday morning near Suphur Springs, Texas.The drummer, Robert Paul English, sustained the most serious injuries, including a broken hip. Thomas Ray Hawkins fractured a rib and Billie Jean English sustained a bruised hip. Willie was not on the band’s bus. Fortunately all three were released from the hospital after being treated for their injuries. No other vehicles were involved.
In cases involving icy roads or other dangerous weather conditions, the other driiver’s insurance company’s adjuster often argues that the crash was a result of a “sudden emergency” or an “act of God” in an attempt to show that its drivers were not negligent so it can legally deny the claim.
For example, several years ago I represented a man who was injured when his car was hit by a Dallas Cowboys player leaving DFW airport. The Cowboy was driving his Escalade down a ramp and merging onto International Parkway. He spun out and crashed into my client. The roads were icy and his insurance company argued that it was an “unavoidable accident” and denied payment. I filed suit.
I hired an accident reconstructionist who was able to prove that the Cowboy was driving at least 45 miles per hour on the icy roads down a ramp with a speed limit of 30. I was also able to show that he had already driven too fast on other icy roads that day and was at fault. My client received a large settlement at a mediation just before trial.
This year I successfully resolved a similar case on behalf of an 18 wheel driver who was hit by a pickup truck driver on Interstate 20 west of Fort Worth on any icy morning in January. I was able to obtain the at-fault driver’s complete insurance policy limits and also recovered my client’s Underinsured Motorist (UIM) benefits and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, then slashed the money he had to repay his worker’s compensation carrier and other medical providers.
If you are driving on icy roads or in bad weather conditions and are injured in a collision, these are questions that a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer has to answer to learn if you have a viable claim:
1. Was the driver of other vehicle driving too fast for the existing road conditions? Under Texas law, a driver will be found to be negligent if he is driving too fast on an icy road — even if he is driving below the speed limit.
2. Was the other driver impaired by alcohol or drugs? Icy roads or not, when a drunk driver (or driver impaired by drugs) causes a fatal accident, it is wrongful death. In addition, if the driver was served alcohol at a bar or restaurant, that business may be liable, meaning the family of the person killed can sue the bar or restaurant for the wrongful death. This is called a dram shop claim.
3. Was the driver of the other vehicle 1 distracted? Was he using a cell phone at the time of the crash? While this is not illegal in Texas, that would clearly be evidence of negligence if the weather or road conditions required the utmost of care.
4. Did the other driver break any traffic law that contributed to the accident, either the cause or the severity? If so, the injury case is more solid.
If we have any more bad weather this winger, you can check weather conditions online at Drive Texas.
If you are involved in a wreck involving icy roads or other extreme weather, you need an attorney experienced in handling these complicated cases. I have won millions of dollars for my clients, including in some difficult fact cases. Please call my office at 817-885-8000 for a free no-obligation case evaluation and to learn how I can help you.