(El Paso Jan 12, 2020) A motorcyclist was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver late Thursday January 11th. The incident happened at the intersection of Raynor and Randall near downtown El Paso when a Dodge Ram pick-up ran a red light and struck the motorcycle. The victim, Celso Manuel Garcia (38) was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the truck, Ivan Romo (27) was arrested at the scene and charged with intoxication manslaughter. He is being held at the county detention facility. Romo, is currently a soldier stationed at Ft. Bliss.
Photo Credit: KPRC News
PASADENA, Texas (Jan 3, 2020)– A Motorcycle Crash in Pasadena kills one man and lands another in custody. Police said the crash happened around 3:40 a.m. on Genoa Red Bluff Road between Space Center Boulevard and Red Bluff Road. A speeding motorcyclist heading westbound on Genoa Red Bluff T-boned the passenger side of a small, four-door sedan. The impact caused the sedan and motorcycle to spin and catch on fire. The motorcyclist was thrown from his bike and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the car — 30-year-old Stephen Dario Rodriguez — was transported to a hospital and is expected to survive.
Investigators determined Rodriguez had been driving under the influence and was charged with his third DWI. The victim of the crash has been identified as 24-year-old James Hubbs. The incident is still under investigation.
Texas is mourning after the untimely deaths of NFL player Cedric Benson and his passenger, a University of Texas graduate. According to news reports the player’s motorcycle collided with a white minivan on an Austin, Texas highway. Witnesses state that good samaritans and bystanders offered assistance before Texas fire and emergency services arrived at the scene. Representatives at the Austin police department said that they would comment after reviewing witness footage of the accident.
Tragic Texas motorcycle accidents are often the result of some wrongdoing, and the victims and their families are entitled to recourse. Under the Texas Wrongful Death Statute, plaintiffs can assert a claim if the death was a result of the “wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, unskillfulness” of an individual or entity. Some common instances where a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate are in drunk or distracted driving accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and medical malpractice cases. Filing this type of claim is appropriate regardless of whether the state pursues criminal charges against the culpable party.
Texas law only permits specific individuals to commence a wrongful death statute on behalf of their loved one. Parents, spouses and children of the deceased individual may file a wrongful death claim. These parties can file the lawsuit individually or as a group. Texas considers adult and fully adopted children eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Children that are fully and legally adopted may not file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of their biological parent. Unfortunately, Texas law does not permit siblings to file a wrongful death claim.
The state’s high court recently ruled in a Texas personal injury case involving the notice requirements in lawsuits against government entities. According to the court’s opinion, two individuals were riding on a motorcycle when they hit a large mound of dirt on an unlit asphalt road in Killeen, Texas. While both driver and passenger initially survived the crash, they ultimately died as a result of their injuries. The accident victims’ relatives sued the city, claiming that the mound of dirt was a “special defect” for which the city was responsible. The city argued that the plaintiffs failed to give formal notice of the claim, as required under the Texas Tort Claims Act. In response, the plaintiffs argued that the city already had actual notice of the claim and therefore the plaintiffs should be excused from providing additional notice.
Under section 101.101(a) of the Texas Tort Claims Act, a claimant must provide a government entity with notice of a claim against it within six months of the “incident giving rise to the claim.” The notice must describe the incident, the time and place where the incident occurred, and the damage or injury that resulted. However, under section 101.101(c), a claimant does not need to provide notice if the governmental entity has “actual notice” that the claimant was injured, the claimant’s property was damaged, or that a death has occurred.
In a 2004 Texas Supreme Court case, the court held in order to have actual notice, the government must be subjectively aware of its alleged fault in the resulting death, injury, or property damage. The plaintiffs argued that the case should be overturned because this requirement was not part of the statute. However, the court declined to overturn its previous decision, and held that in this case, the city had actual notice.
In late June, seven motorcyclists were killed and four seriously injured in a tragic accident that occurred when a pickup truck inexplicably veered out of its lane and into oncoming traffic, crashing into a group of ten motorcycles. Since the fatal accident, reports have surfaced indicating that the driver of the pickup truck involved in that fatal collision was also involved in a number of other incidents, including a Texas truck accident a few weeks earlier.
According to a local news report, on June 3, 2019, just three weeks before the fatal motorcycle accident, police responded to reports of a crash on Interstate 10 in Baytown. When they arrived, officers found a red Mack truck rolled over onto its side. The driver of the truck told police that another motorist cut him off, and that he lost control of the truck when he attempted to avoid a collision. Police officers were unable to locate any sign of the other vehicle, but did not cite or arrest the truck driver because there was no indication of intoxication or any other wrongdoing. However, the man was fired after this incident.
After looking into the man’s record more closely, reporters discovered that he was arrested back in February of 2019 for possession of a crack pipe. The man was placed on a deferment, meaning that the charges would be dropped if he stayed out of trouble. Just a week before the fatal motorcycle accident, the charges were dropped.
Earlier this year, a company by the name of Lime was given permission to open its electric-scooter sharing operating in Dallas. The scooter-share program is similar to the ubiquitous bike shares that have opened up across the country, however, instead of bicycles, the company allows customers to rent motorized scooters.
The differences between the risks involved with riding a bicycle and a motorized scooter have resulted in many expressing hesitations. Residents protested the scooter share, arguing that it will result in an increased number of inexperienced operators, worsen the city’s already notorious traffic situation, and present additional risks to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Earlier this month, Dallas suffered its first fatal rental scooter crash. According to a local news report, the accident is being investigated as a single-vehicle crash, although the accident victim’s family believes that another vehicle was involved.
In a recent appellate case, a Texas motorcycle accident plaintiff challenged the trial court’s admission of evidence related to causation and prior extraneous offenses. The motorcyclist was driving in the right lane on a service road when an 18-wheeler truck swung into the middle lane to make a right turn. He tried to pass on the right, and a truck cut him off to make a turn. He steered into a curb, flew over the handlebars, and was seriously injured under the tires of the truck.
He was speeding when he tried to pass. The truck company, but not the driver, admitted the right turn was wider than necessary. The lower court refused to permit testimony from the only eyewitness that the motorcyclist and the truck driver were equally at fault. An officer who investigated the accident determined that the motorcyclist had tried to pass the truck unsafely. Both sides presented expert testimony. After a two-week trial, the jury determined there was more than $7 million in damages. It found that the truck driver was 25% negligent and that the motorcyclist was 75% negligent. A take-nothing judgment was entered.
The motorcyclist appealed. He argued it was improper to admit the officer’s testimony that he caused the crash by passing unsafely on the right as well as presenting evidence of his prior bad acts. The company and the truck driver argued he waived those complaints because he discussed the evidence in his opening statement and also introduced it at trial. Specifically, the plaintiff’s attorney had commented that he was no Boy Scout and had evaded arrest, among other things, and that the police officer didn’t talk to the only eyewitness in stating that the motorcyclist passed unsafely to the right.
A recent Texas appellate case arose from a truck accident. The defendant testified that, on the accident date, he was driving in the left lane. It was rush hour, and following behind two other vehicles, he was coming to a construction zone. Since he hadn’t considered the recommended following distance, there was no room for other cars and trucks to merge in front of him. An 18-wheeler in front of the two vehicles he was following stopped, and traffic immediately stopped. The traffic was tight, such that driving into the right lane wasn’t possible. The two vehicles turned onto a grassy median, and the defendant followed them.
Later, the truck driver would testify that what happened was so fast, he wasn’t sure why he left the road instead of simply stopping. He veered off because he assumed something was in front of them on the road, and he didn’t want to risk touching the back of the truck. He hit the brakes as he left the road, and he believed he had to do so to avoid a collision. He didn’t look left before following, and he was going at the same rate as the cars around him.
When he moved left, he did see the plaintiff’s motorcycle located about a car behind him in his mirror. He believed that the motorcycle was moving fast on the shoulder and that it was illegal to use the shoulder. The motorcyclist drove onto the grass and lost control of his bike. The bike hit the defendant’s truck. The defendant didn’t think the back of his truck had left the shoulder yet, and he claimed that the plaintiff wasn’t in his path when he went left.
In a recent Texas appellate case, a motorcyclist was traveling up United States Highway 54. As he exited 54, he hit a Texas Department of Transportation sign that had fallen into the roadway and was killed. The sign sat off the roadway and was secured to two posts that went down to a concrete base. There were fuse plates that were designed to come off under enough force, like a vehicle hitting the sign. The purpose of these is to reduce the risk of injury. However, it also made the sign particularly susceptible to being damaged by wind and other forces.
A motorist had hit the prior sign, so a new sign was put up at the exit where the motorcyclist was killed. Six months later, high winds affected a number of signs on the highway. The Department of Transportation crew saw that the sign wasn’t level, and they took a look. Two of the fuse plates had broken, so they replaced the fuse plates. They tightened the bolts by hand, although for certain signs they used a torque wrench.
In this case, a 911 operator got a call that a street sign was in the lane of traffic on the exit ramp. The sign was secured by only one post, and there were winds blowing at 40-60 mph. Other calls were also made to 911, and somebody even warned that somebody would be killed by running into the sign.
In a recent Texas appellate case, the plaintiff sued the City of Houston after one of its police officers hit his motorcycle. The officer was in a parked police car in 2009 when he heard a radio broadcast from another officer, stating that there was a motorcyclist who was driving recklessly and standing up on the motorcycle while speeding. The first officer radioed that he would try to help the first officer. While going to assist, the first officer saw the plaintiff’s car leave a parking lot and turn onto the road in front of him. As the officer came up to him, he changed lanes to the left lane and then changed back, coming to a stop in front of the police officer. The officer hit the motorcycle while trying to go around him.
The plaintiff sued for personal injuries. The City argued that it was entitled to government immunity, based on the Texas Tort Claims Act. The plea to the jurisdiction was granted, and the plaintiff appealed. The parties didn’t disagree on appeal that the officer was in the course and scope of his job when he answered the radio call for help. The appellate court determined that the officer was engaged in a discretionary function at the time of the accident, but the defendant hadn’t established the officer was acting in good faith. The claim that the officer was responding to a call about a motorcyclist fleeing from the police was not grounded in evidence. The radio transcripts showed that the dispatcher had asked for help with a motorcyclist driving recklessly.
The appellate court explained that the defendant had to show good faith by proving a reasonably prudent officer could conclude that the need for a response to the recklessly driving motorcyclist outweighed the risk to the public by the police officer speeding. It determined that based on the record, the defendant hadn’t established the officer’s good faith, since the motorcyclist wasn’t fleeing arrest.