• May 17, 2022

Autumn Morgan, Taylor Brown Injured in Car Accident on Little School Rd in Arlington, TX

Arlington, TX -- May 7, 2022, driver Taylor Brown and passenger Autumn Morgan were injured in a single-vehicle crash on Little School Road in Arlington.

Reports say the incident happened around 2:45 a.m. on Little School near U.S. Highway 287. Preliminary investigation suggests Brown was driving a Buick Encore south on the roadway when she approached the US-287 service road intersection. Reports suggest Morgan, riding in the back seat, leaned forward between the front seats and grabbed the wheel, causing the SUV to swerve right and crashed into a light pole.

Brown, 21, and Morgan, 20, both suffered serious injuries in the crash. Investigators say both women were intoxicated at the time; blood samples were collected from the driver for testing.

No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Taylor Brown and Autumn Morgan Accident in Arlington

UPDATE (May 27, 2022): Later reports suggest the driver in this crash had a BAC of .14 at the time, well over the legal limit. However, as I previously mentioned it seems more like the passenger's actions were the root cause of the damage done and as I predicted she wasn't tested.

In the eyes of the law a drunk passenger is doing the right thing by not driving and police aren't likely to deviate from standard procedure by testing her. The driver may now face some legal difficulties for operating that Buick while impaired, but the passenger--and by extension whatever business got her drunk enough to lean forward and yank the wheel off-course--may be off the hook. In some ways that's probably a relief, but it also means that a negligent business may get away without any consequences for over-serving the Buick's occupants. If that happens both driver and passenger may lose a valuable avenue to get help with their recovery.

I mentioned dram shop when I wrote about this crash before, so for a refresher see below. Suffice to say that a local business may deserve to pay the price for negligence, but the way things are going so far with the "official" investigation it's likely to walk away without a scratch. If the victims' injuries are its fault for over-serving them despite its legal obligation not to, proving that would probably require help from an independent investigator who doesn't quit before the job's done.

Autumn Morgan, Taylor Brown Injured in Car Accident on Little School Rd in Arlington, TX

ORIGINAL: Police suspect the driver in this accident was intoxicated at the time. If they're right that's obviously a serious problem, but at the same time it almost seems coincidental and may not necessarily have been the direct cause of her injuries or that of her passenger. According to reports those seem more likely due to the passenger's actions. Of course if she was in a similar state of impairment that could still be a very important thing to know.

Here's the thing, though: Police don't usually do much about drunk passengers if they don't break any laws from the passenger seat. The driver may be in some trouble if tests confirm she was drunk at the wheel, but officials may not even test the passenger to find out if she was in the same boat. Somebody should, though. Why? Because if the two of them were drinking at a local bar or other alcohol-serving venue and the passenger got too drunk to make good choices, that business might be responsible for both women's injuries under Texas dram shop law.

Dram shop law basically says alcohol vendors like bars, restaurants, clubs, and stores can't sell or serve drinks to an obviously intoxicated customer. If they keep refilling someone's glass when they can clearly tell that person is past her limits, they break the law. Period. In those cases they may be liable for the damage done if their customer hurts herself or anyone else while under the influence of all those drinks.

Dram shop claims serve the double purpose of getting badly-injured people the help they need and also teaching negligent bars a hard lesson about getting their priorities in order. It's wrong and illegal to put bigger bar tabs ahead of customer and public safety, but sometimes bars lose sight of that simple idea. When that happens, sometimes a dram shop claim is the wake-up call they need to get their act together. If injured victims can get some much-needed help at the same time, that's even better.


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