Personal Injury Blog

Two Pedestrians in Clear Lake, Texas, are Killed Crossing FM 528

February 5th, 2016
English: A sign ordering pedestrians not to cr...

English: A sign ordering pedestrians not to cross at this corner but to use the crosswalk, with stickers and graffiti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sixty-six-year-old Lina Kuehn Owen and 64-year-old Larry Wayne Owen were attempting to cross FM 528 in order to attend a Brookside Intermediate School event on Wednesday when they were struck by a Honda Accord. The 21-year-old driver of the vehicle is from Webster. He was traveling on the inner westbound lane when the tragic accident occurred. Lina was pronounced dead at the scene and Larry died after being transported to a nearby hospital. The fatal accident is still under investigation. The driver stayed at the scene and cooperated fully with the police; no charges have been filed in the case.

Officials in Friendswood say FM 528 is the most dangerous road for pedestrians in the city. Fatal pedestrian accidents have also occurred on 528 in 2011, 2013, and 2015 and all happened at night.

There was no mention of whether or not the couple was crossing on a pedestrian crosswalk, in which case they would have the right-of-way, if the signal to walk was being displayed. Pedestrians on sidewalks always have the right-of-way, as do children getting on and off of a school bus.

When pedestrians are struck by a car, investigations may find that the pedestrian was behaving negligently or that the driver was negligent. Reasons a driver may be found to be negligent include texting while driving, driving inattentively, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and speeding.

There are many specific instructions within the Texas Transportation Code regarding pedestrians. Read more about pedestrian right-of-ways and other pedestrian-related laws in this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor

3 Teens Die in a Horrific Crash in Richardson, Texas

February 4th, 2016
English: Traffic collision involving two cars ...

English: Traffic collision involving two cars and a bus at an intersection in San Francisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A 28-year-old woman was driving a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe, an SUV, eastbound on President George Bush Turnpike near US 75 on Saturday, January 16, 2016; and there were three passengers in the car, ages 12, 13, and 19. According to Sgt. Lonny Haschel with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the SUV was in the far right lane when traffic suddenly slowed. The driver, in trying to avoid a crash, swerved to the left, crossed all of the eastbound lanes, and lost control. The SUV rolled several times, struck another vehicle, and then fell 60 feet, instantly killing one teen. The two other passengers were transported to nearby hospitals and died soon after. Miraculously, the driver survived with no significant injuries. The SUV crashed onto the Richardson side of the turnpike; Plano is on the opposite side. The fatal crash is under investigation, and the cause is currently unknown.

In many situations on Texas roadways, when a vehicle encounters slow traffic and ends up losing control, it is because the driver was traveling too fast for conditions, and the driving may or may not be considered reckless. As regards punishing reckless drivers, Texas is the most lenient of all 50 states, according to a recent study. The following are things that, unlike many other states, Texas does not do:

  • Texas does not define reckless driving by specific miles per hour. As an example, in Louisiana, if a motorist travels 15 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, he or she is, by definition, a reckless driver and could be given a citation.
  • Texas does not have a state law which makes racing on roads illegal, though many cities include this law in their ordinances.
  • Texas does not deploy speed cameras for instant enforcement.
  • Texas does not require license suspension or jail time for first-time offenders found guilty of reckless driving.
  • Texas imposes minimal fines for reckless driving offenses, as compared with other states.

–Guest Contributor

2 Hit-and Run Fatalities Occur in Houston, TX, at the Same Intersection – Part 4

February 1st, 2016
Houston, Texas, United States - Interstate 610...

Houston, Texas, United States – Interstate 610 where US Highway 290 exits and Exit 12 for West 18th Street and Hempstead Road © 2006 J. P. Fagerback (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the Highway 59 feeder road at Westpark in Houston, Texas, two hit-and-run fatalities have occurred within the past few days. The deceased victims are a 54-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl. There are currently no known leads with regard to either tragic crash, according to police; but investigations continue and witnesses are asked to come forward with any information that could be of help in identifying the motorists responsible for the fatal collisions.

The following is some information from Texas Transportation Code section 550.021, entitled “Accident Involving Personal Injury or Death,” with some added details from section 550.023.

In Texas, the driver of an automobile must do the following if involved in an accident that results in injury or death of a person:

  • Stop their vehicle either at the site of the incident or as close to the accident site as possible;
  • Return immediately to the scene, even if the vehicle is not stopped there; and
  • Remain at the scene to provide to others involved in the collision their name, address, liability insurance information, and vehicle registration number for the automobile the motorist was driving at the time of the accident. Also, remain at the scene until any person injured has assistance getting needed medical attention.
  • Stop the vehicle without blocking traffic any more than necessary.

A person who does not comply with above laws is subject to criminal prosecution. A hit-and-run involving death or serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony.

Read more about hit-and run accidents in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this four-part series.

–Guest Contributor

2 Hit-and Run Fatalities Occur in Houston, TX, at the Same Intersection – Part 3

January 29th, 2016
Result of a serious automobile accident

Result of a serious automobile accident (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the Highway 59 feeder road at Westpark in Houston, Texas, two hit-and-run fatalities have occurred within the past few days. The deceased victims are a 54-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl. There are currently no known leads with regard to either tragic crash, according to police; but investigations continue and witnesses are asked to come forward with any information that could be of help in identifying the motorists responsible for the fatal collisions.

Accidents that result in injuries and fatalities are tragic incidents but they are not always outright criminal acts. Staying at the scene will seldom result in bad consequences simply because of the crash. Of course, if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, has a warrant for his or her arrest, or is engaged in an illegal activity — such as driving without insurance or a valid license, driving a stolen vehicle, or driving recklessly — self-preservation is usually the impetus behind the very bad decision to flee the scene. What about when a person is sober and simply going about their business when a deadly or serious crash occurs? In those cases, why do people hit and run? Some possibilities are that they are trying to uphold social status, not wanting to be caught at the site of the crash because of the location, feelings of guilt and shame, panic, or an awareness of having been distracted while driving.

Read more about hit-and run accidents in Part 1, Part 2, and this ongoing series, including some of the legal consequences of fleeing the scene of an accident.

–Guest Contributor

2 Hit-and Run Fatalities Occur in Houston, TX, at the Same Intersection – Part 2

January 27th, 2016
Took this awesome pic of i-10 and i-45 right a...

Took this awesome pic of i-10 and i-45 right at the northern edge of downtown Houston. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the Highway 59 feeder road at Westpark in Houston, Texas, two hit-and-run fatalities have occurred within the past few days. The deceased victims are a 54-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl. There are currently no known leads with regard to either tragic crash, according to police; but investigations continue and witnesses are asked to come forward with any information that could be of help in identifying the motorists responsible for the fatal collisions.

Researchers say that the number of hit-and-run accidents have been increasing steadily each year. About 1 in 5 pedestrians killed in the U.S. died in hit-and-run incidents, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

It is against the law to fail to stop and render aid in a collision that could result in or has resulted in injury or death. The penalties of being involved in such a crash are far greater when the motorist fails to stop, and yet it is happening more and more.

Last week there was a hit-and-run fatality in Bexar County. A woman and her boyfriend were on Interstate 10 West not far from mile marker 546; their car had broken down and was parked on the side of the road. No further details were given other than the fact that a vehicle struck and killed the man and fled the scene.

Read more about hit-and run accidents in Part 1 of this ongoing series, including some of the most common reasons people make the bad choice to flee an accident scene.

–Guest Contributor

2 Hit-and Run Fatalities Occur in Houston, TX, at the Same Intersection

January 25th, 2016
Houston, Texas, United States - Interstate 610...

Houston, Texas, United States – Interstate 610 where US Highway 290 exits and Exit 12 for West 18th Street and Hempstead Road © 2006 J. P. Fagerback (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the Highway 59 feeder road at Westpark in Houston, Texas, two hit-and-run fatalities have occurred within the past few days. The deceased victims are a 54-year-old man and an 11-year-old girl. There are currently no known leads with regard to either tragic crash, according to police; but investigations continue and witnesses are asked to come forward with any information that could be of help in identifying the motorists responsible for the fatal collisions.

The man recently killed was bicycling to work at a lawn care company at about 6 a.m. when he was struck and killed by a vehicle. Unfortunately, there are no surveillance cameras in the area that have been able to provide any information to help identify the motorist. No witnesses have come forward, either. Many drivers continued to drive past the cyclist as he lay on the feeder road, but two women stopped. According to one, the man was already dead by the time she stopped to give aid.

A few days later, on Sunday, January 24, a man was driving in a truck and had his five children as passengers. He was making a turn at the intersection when a motorist in a red sedan ran a red light and crashed into him, forcing his pickup into a pillar under Hwy 59. All of the children were transported to the hospital, as a result of their injuries in the accident. The 11-year-old died there. All that’s known about the truck that hit the family is that it was red Chevy Cavalier or Cobalt and it likely has damage to the left front bumper area and panel.

Read about hit-and run accidents in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

A Wrong-Way Crash on Interstate 20 in Texas Kills One – Part 3

January 19th, 2016
A high-capacity interchange: the Judge Harry P...

A high-capacity interchange: the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fatal wrong-way crash occurred in Harrison County, Texas, on Wednesday morning, according to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). At about 8:48 close to Mile Marker 599 in Harrison County, which is west of the Loop 281 exit, a 63-year-old woman from Homer, Louisiana, was traveling westbound on I-20 in the eastbound lanes. She slammed head-on into a pickup truck. As a result of the impact, the truck swerved into an 18-wheeler’s path. Both trucks went off the road, and the wrong-way driver’s car came to a stop on the inside shoulder of the eastbound lane; she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The following are more conclusions from an in-depth study of wrong-way driving:

  • There are federal size and place requirements for controlled-access highway exit ramp signs, and some locations have been found not to be in compliance, based on investigative examples and state sign inventories.
  • The study found that traffic control devices need to be designed to make exit ramps easy to distinguish and distinctly different from entrance ramps, to reduce wrong-way driving errors. Signage, roadway marking, and roadway lighting can achieve this goal, to some extent.
  • Certain interchange designs have proven effective in reducing the number of incidents of motorists entering roadways in the wrong direction.
  • There is currently limited federal guidance regarding the use of proven strategies for preventing wrong-way driving.
  • Most strategies available for stopping a wrong-way vehicle are highly risky and often put other motorists as well as law enforcement personnel in danger.

Learn more conclusions of the study on wrong-way driving in Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series.

–Guest Contributor

A Wrong-Way Crash on Interstate 20 in Texas Kills One – Part 2

January 18th, 2016
English: AMS2000 Ignition Interlock Device man...

English: AMS2000 Ignition Interlock Device manufactured by Guardian Interlock Systems (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fatal wrong-way crash occurred in Harrison County, Texas, on Wednesday morning, according to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). At about 8:48 close to Mile Marker 599 in Harrison County, which is west of the Loop 281 exit, a 63-year-old woman from Homer, Louisiana, was traveling westbound on I-20 in the eastbound lanes. She slammed head-on into a pickup truck. As a result of the impact, the truck swerved into an 18-wheeler’s path. Both trucks went off the road, and the wrong-way driver’s car came to a stop on the inside shoulder of the eastbound lane; she was pronounced dead at the scene.

The following are conclusions from an in-depth study of wrong-way driving:

  • In recent years, there has been an average of over 300 wrong-way driving fatalities in the U.S. each year. Although wrong-way collisions are rare, compared to other types of accidents, they tend to be more severe, resulting in deaths.
  • Wrong-way driving fatal collisions most often occur in the lane closest to the median.
  • Most of the accidents occur on weekend nights.
  • More than 60% of wrong-way crashes are caused by drivers who are alcohol-impaired.
  • Installing an alcohol ignition interlock on the vehicles all DWI offenders would reduce collisions caused by drivers who are impaired by alcohol.
  • Older drivers are overly represented to in wrong-way collision statistics. Efforts should be applied toward reducing the involvement of older drivers in these types of crashes.

Learn more conclusions of the study on wrong-way driving in Part 1 and this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

A Wrong-Way Crash on Interstate 20 in Harrison County, Texas Kills One

January 14th, 2016
Moskovskoye highway. Consequences of traffic a...

Moskovskoye highway. Consequences of traffic accident. Car of administration of Saint Petersburg was travelling on a wrong line without traffice police escort car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fatal wrong-way crash occurred in Harrison County, Texas, on Wednesday morning, according to the Department of Public Safety (DPS). At about 8:48 close to Mile Marker 599 in Harrison County, which is west of the Loop 281 exit, a 63-year-old woman from Homer, Louisiana, was traveling westbound on I-20 in the eastbound lanes. She slammed head-on into a pickup truck. As a result of the impact, the truck swerved into an 18-wheeler’s path. Both trucks went off the road, and the wrong-way driver’s car came to a stop on the inside shoulder of the eastbound lane; she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Before the crash occurred, the assistant fire marshal for Harrison County had seen the wrong-way driver and attempted to stop her. Unfortunately, the fatal collision happened before he could catch up with her.

There is an ongoing investigation into the accident, and DPS is trying to determine why the driver was going the wrong way.

Various institutions have done studies on wrong-way collisions, trying to determine what types of measures could be taken to eliminate wrong-way driving. Compared to other types of crashes, wrong-way crashes are relatively infrequent. They are typically more serious, however, than other types of collisions because head-on crashes are very dangerous.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted an extensive investigation involving detailed studies of specific wrong-way collisions in various locations throughout the U.S., including two that occurred in Texas. One of the conclusions of the report was that alcohol impairment is a leading factor in wrong-way driving crashes. Learn more conclusions of the study on wrong-way driving in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

A Greyhound Bus in Arlington, TX, Rear-ends an SUV, Killing 1 – Part 5

January 14th, 2016
Bus only lane on highway in Korea (taken at Si...

Bus only lane on highway in Korea (taken at Singal JC, Gyeongbu Expressway, Korea) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tragedy occurred on Sunday, December 20, 2015, at about 5:30 a.m. on westbound I-30 in Arlington, Texas. According to witnesses and Police Lt. Christopher Cooper, the driver of an SUV was swerving and driving erratically before ultimately crashing into an HOV lane divider not far from Center Street. A Greyhound bus bound for Amarillo slammed into the disabled SUV, killing a woman inside and seriously injuring a man; authorities were unclear which person in the SUV was driving. There were 40 passengers on the bus, and 16 were injured, though none seriously. The collision is still under investigation, but it has been announced that the bus driver will not be charged in connection with the fatal crash.

It is extremely dangerous to be in a disabled vehicle on Texas roadways, especially on highways, with high-speed traffic. The following are more tips for what to do if your vehicle breaks down on a highway:

Before accepting the help of a stranger who offers assistance, ask to see the person’s identification. Write down the information or tell someone else in the vehicle where you are going and when you can be expected to return.

The following are tips for what to do if you are stranded on the highway and make the choice to remain inside your vehicle:

  • Close the windows and keep the doors locked.
  • Do not leave the engine running for long periods of time because this could put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • If a stranger approaches you and threatens you while you are waiting in your vehicle, call 9-1-1. Repeatedly honk the horn and flash lights to gain the attention of other motorists.

See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this five-part series, for more tips on what to do if stranded on a Texas highway.

–Guest Contributor