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Harris County Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

Reviewing Texas' dram shop laws

Most motorists in Houston likely do not need to be told about the risks that drunk drivers may pose to them. What they may not be aware of, however, is how quickly the expenses associated with a drunk driving accident can add up. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that alcohol-related crashes cost roughly $44 billion to deal with each year. Most might assume that only those who caused such collisions can be held liable for them. Yet could liability be extended to others, as well? 

Like many other states, Texas has dram shop laws that allow those who provide alcohol to drivers to be held responsible for any damages such customers' drunkenness may cause. The details of this law can be found in Section 2.02 of the state's Alcoholic Beverage Code. They state that in order for this law to be applied in an accident case, it must first be shown that agents of an establishment served alcohol to a patron that was already apparently drunk and whose actions could produce a risk to him or herself and others. Furthermore, it must be shown that the patron's decision to drink after driving was the proximate cause of an accident. 

Detailing the doctrine or negligent entrustment

Nearly every adult driver in Houston can likely remember the excitement that came with earning his or her drivers' license. At the time, almost all figured that they were already excellent drivers from the moment they first sat behind the wheel. Yet with the benefit of time and perspective, most can now look back and agree that their lack of experience likely hindered their overall driving skills back then. Indeed, information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents then motorists of other age groups. 

Who is liable when a teen driver causes an accident? The easy answer may be the teen, yet in such cases, accident victims may not expect much from teens when seeking compensation. However, the legal doctrine of negligent entrustment allows such victims to extend liability to those who allowed the teens to the drive in the first place. In most cases, that will likely be the teen's parents, yet this principle can be applied to any vehicle owner. 

Distracted driving course is part of new State requirement

Distracted driving continues to plague Texas drivers. The ways drivers can distract themselves dangerously from safe driving are likely as numerous as the imagination will allow. They can include eating or drinking, chatting with a passenger, playing with a smart device or cellphone, among other distractions.

Often, a serious car accident will occur and one may suspect that driving while distracted was a cause. However, there may be no proof if there were no witnesses that survived to explain.

Speeding causes as much death as drunk driving

Speeding on the Texas roadways can cause multi-vehicle collisions and numerous injuries and fatalities, as seen recently in the Houston area. In a recent tragedy, a father and his two young children failed to survive a rear end collision by a truck that may have been speeding. In that instance, a total of six vehicles incurred damages.

The truck, despite apparently trying to brake and avoid the collision, careened into the back of the father's car. That car then plowed into a vehicle in front of it as a result of the impact from behind. In turn, an SUV flipped over and other vehicle damages resulted. The cooperative driver of the truck may have been traveling at too high a rate of speed. Although negligent speeding may have been involved, alcohol may not have been a contributing factor.

Leaving accident costs Harris County deputy his job

Car accidents that occur on Houston's roads and highways may rarely be singular events. Typically, many vehicles and/or motorists are involved, even if the extent of their involvement is to witness the accident. The hope is that people who witness an accident will stop to render aid to any who are injured by it, and then to provide testimony of what they saw. While some may say there is no legal obligation for an average citizen to do this, others may counter by claiming the obligation is a moral one. Given their responsibilities, law enforcement officers are expected to stop at an accident scene. 

Yet what happens if they do not? In the case of a Harris County deputy, it cost him his job. Footage from his in-car camera showed him to be in pursuit of a speeding vehicle. That vehicle ultimately flipped over and crashed. Yet the deputy did not report the accident or the chase. He claimed to have lost the vehicle while in pursuit. However, investigators are claiming that he witnessed the crash, yet turned his lights and sirens off and left the scene. The driver of the crashed car was sent to a local hospital in critical condition, while her passenger was pronounced dead at the scene. After firing the deputy for failing to follow department policy in the chase, local authorites pledged to conduct a full investigation into the matter. 

Potential brain injuries suffered by car accident victims

As you proceeded with your daily commute, your mind may naturally been on your responsibilities for the day ahead. Little did you know, howev er, that another party's actions would jeopardize your mind's ability to properly function as a result of an unfortunate car accident caused through no fault of your own.

An injury to the brain is often a catastrophic injury that causes individuals either permanent or temporary functional challenges. A wide range of brain injuries can result from an accident stemming from the negligence of another motorist in Texas.

Driving distractions and pet restraint safety

Dogs of all kinds can offer a world of happiness to pet owners in Texas. While the advantages of owning a pet are endless, the issue of distracted driving due to unrestrained pets in vehicles has become prevalent in recent years. As the number of miles Texans cover every year increases, so do the number of motor vehicle accidents. Could unruly pets be partially to blame? 

Hawaii is the only state with strict laws against pets riding in the laps of drivers, and other states in the country have begun to follow suit. Although Texas enforces laws that prohibit distracted driving, the state does not currently have a law against unrestrained pets in vehicles.

Don't let a vehicle crash cause your world to come crashing down

A seemingly ordinary trip to the grocery store or the bank may unfortunately turn into the trip you will never forget -- for all of the wrong reasons -- if you end up being involved in a car accident that results in serious injuries. The aftermath of a car accident can quickly make you feel as though your life has been flipped upside down.

In addition to facing a difficult physical recovery, you may find yourself struggling with a challenging emotional recovery following your crash as well. Sometimes these types of accidents on Texas highways are the result of another driver who has been negligent behind the wheel. Taking a few steps following your motor vehicle crash may help you to protect your rights down the road from a legal standpoint.

The consequences of on-the-job traffic crashes

From drunk driving wrecks to falling asleep behind the wheel, motor vehicle collisions happen for all sorts of reasons. Furthermore, there are a number of unique details that can impact those involved in a Texas crash. For example, someone may be involved in an accident while they are working, which can create additional challenges.

When a worker is involved in an on-the-job accident, there are a number of factors to consider. For example, the worker may want to look into workers’ compensation benefits. Moreover, if someone was struck by a negligent driver, such as someone who was under the influence at the time of the crash, they may want to look into taking action to hold the reckless driver responsible.

Can eating while driving cause accidents?

Like many, you may mistakenly believe that distracted driving has only recently become an issue affecting those on Houston’s roads and highways. That assumption no doubt comes from the notion that when referring to distracted driving, people are typically talking about those who use a cell phone while operating a vehicle. Yet the truth is that driving distractions have been around for decades, and while cell phone use has become the popular topic to focus on in the current moment, there are other activities that pull people’s attention away from the road in a manner that is equally dangerous.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has partnered with the Auto Alliance in defining all of the distractions that one may encounter while driving. These have all been broken down into the following three categories:

  •          Cognitive: Any activities that take one’s focus away from the road
  •          Manual: Any activities force one to take his or her hand(s) off of the wheel
  •          Visual: Any activities that take one’s eyes off of the road ahead

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