Grimes & Fertitta, P.C.

Driver in fatal bayou crash determined to be drunk

Drunk driving is universally frowned upon in Houston and throughout Texas. However, a troublesome percentage of accidents (including fatal crashes) involve alcohol. Not only is drunk driving a crime, it can expose a person to civil liability.

Both apparently will happen to a driver involved in a recent fatal accident that occurred near a Houston bayou. According to police, a 19-year-old driver was behind the wheel of a car that lost control on a bridge and plunged into the water. One passenger was severely injured, and another was killed.  The driver was not injured. 

However, he was charged with intoxicated manslaughter and intoxicated assault as a result of the crash. Both are felony level offenses that carry the prospect of significant jail time. 

It remains to be seen whether the driver will also face civil lawsuits. He could face a wrongful death suit from the the deceased passenger's family, as well as a negligence suit from the injured passenger. 

A wrongful death suit seeks monetary damages from a driver whose negligence caused (or played a significant part in) a person's death. To succeed in a wrongful suit, a plaintiff must prove that the offending driver owed a duty to the victim to use reasonable care in operating the vehicle, that there was a breach of that duty, and that the breach was the proximate cause of the death.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol could be viewed as a breach of the duty, and it could also be seen as the proximate cause of the passenger's death.

Source: DenverPost.com, Police: Driver in fatal Houston crash was drunk, July 28, 2013

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