Toxicology results are pending in a fireball crash that killed two people. One of the victims was a local high school student.
17-year-old Zane Gregg was driving near the 11000 block of Highway 171 when Ricky Cook crossed the centerline and collided with Gregg’s pickup head-on. The two men were trapped inside the vehicles as they burst into flame. First responders from multiple state and local agencies arrived quickly, but both men were declared dead at the scene.
As responders pulled Cook out of the truck, they detected an odor of alcohol. Investigators also found traces of alcohol in the vehicle.
I Sue Dead People
If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) does not survive the wreck, a Weatherford personal injury attorney can still obtain compensation. Procedurally, however, these claims are a bit different.
Instead of district court, attorneys must file legal paperwork in probate court. Additionally, they must file a notice of claim with the estate administrator. Failure to do either of these things could cut off the victim’s right to financial compensation.
If the victim did not survive, attorneys can use Texas’ wrongful death statute to obtain compensation. This law allows wrongful death plaintiffs to recover damages for:
- Burial and funeral expenses,
- Medical bills related to the decedent’s final illness or injury,
- Lost future emotional and financial support,
- Decedent’s pain and suffering, and
- Their own grief and sorrow.
Typically, either the decedent’s personal representative or a close living relative may file a wrongful death claim.
Despite a decades-long crackdown against “drunk drivers,” alcohol still causes about a third of the fatal crashes in Parker County. To obtain the compensation outlined above, plaintiffs may use direct or circumstantial evidence.
If the tortfeasor was legally intoxicated, the tortfeasor’s estate may be liable for damages as a matter of law. When tortfeasors violate safety laws, like the DWI law, and cause crashes, victim/plaintiffs need only establish causation.
In other situations, circumstantial evidence is admissible. Since alcohol impairment begins with the first drink, this evidence is often very persuasive. Circumstantial evidence of impairment includes:
- Odor of alcohol,
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Slurred speech,
- Erratic driving, and
- Unsteady balance.
Victim/plaintiffs may also use circumstantial evidence to establish third party liability. Texas has a broad dram shop law which holds commercial alcohol providers liable for damages if they sell alcohol to intoxicated patrons who subsequently cause car crashes.
Generally, these damages include money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.
Alcohol crash victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Weatherford, contact Herreth Law. You have a limited amount of time to act.