According to reporting from News Four San Antonio, a 41 year old woman was recently killed in a tragic car accident. The wreck occurred when a Dodge Durango attempted to flee the scene of a previous accident. The initial accident was a minor rear end collision, that happened at the FM 725 intersection in New Braunfels, Texas. Local police report that the Dodge Durango attempted to speed away from the rear end collision and slammed into oncoming traffic. This led to a major, and fatal, three car wreck. The driver of the Dodge Durango was also transported to a San Antonio hospital with critical injuries. New Braunfels Police report that criminal charges are being considered.
Texas Car Accidents: Gross Negligence
Speeding away from the scene of an accident is extremely reckless behavior. Under Texas law, negligent conduct, that displays an extreme lack of care for the safety of others, is classified as gross negligence. A driver’s behavior can be deemed grossly negligent if they caused an accident intentionally, maliciously, or if they acted with extreme recklessness. When an accident is caused by gross negligence, Texas courts have the ability to award exemplary damages. These damages, also known as punitive damages, are designed to punish the poor conduct of the negligent party. However, exemplary damages are still awarded to the injured party. Examples of Texas car accidents that can result in the awarding of exemplary damages include:
- DWI accidents;
- Drag racing accidents;
- Police evasion: or
- Accidents caused by operating a vehicle with a known safety problem, such as very poor brakes;
How are Exemplary Damages Calculated?
Exemplary damages are awarded on a case by case basis. A Texas court will need to comprehensively examine the reckless conduct of the defendant, and the extent of the injuries sustained by the victim, in order to determine the appropriate award. Courts will consider a wide array of factors including the criminal history, and the financial means, of the defendant. Texas also has a statutory cap on exemplary damages. Under Chapter 41 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, exemplary damages are limited to:
- Twice the value of the economic damages; plus
- The value of the non-economic damages, not to exceed $750,000.
As an example, imagine that you were seriously injured by a drunk driver, who had a blood alcohol level that was three times the legal limit. In this accident you sustained $1 million of economic damages and $1 million of non-economic damages. Under Texas law, you would be entitled to recover the full extent of those damages. Plus, you could potentially recover exemplary damages for up to twice the value of your economic damages ($2 million) and the full cap for non-economic damages ($750,000). This means that your maximum possible award of exemplary damages would be $2,750,000. Any award of exemplary damages would be in additional to your compensatory damages.
Contact Our Office Today
If you have been injured in an accident that was caused by the reckless conduct of another driver, you need to contact an aggressive attorney immediately. You may be entitled to substantial recovery for exemplary damages. Please contact our office today to schedule your free initial legal consultation.