Susan Alexander Killed in Chandler, TX, Cattle vs Car Accident
Chandler, TX -- January 1, 2017, Susan Alexander was killed following an accident in which her vehicle crashed into loose cattle on the roadway.
Authorities from the Texas Department of Public Safety were called to investigate the fatal incident. It occurred south of Chandler along FM 314 toward Moore Station.
At around 10:30 p.m., Alexander, said to be in her 50s, was traveling down the roadway when she came upon loose cattle blocking traffic lanes. She attempted to avoid them, but was unable. Her vehicle crashed into two of the livestock, inflicting critical damage to the vehicle.
Alexander was critically injured, and she eventually died at the scene. Two of the livestock also died in the accident.
Reports indicate that authorities received reports about the loose cattle some time before the accident, though it's unclear exactly when. Reports did not say where the cattle came from.
At this time, investigations are ongoing.
Map of the Area
Accidents involving animals can be pretty complex for those who aren't entirely familiar with the liability laws surrounding them. When it comes to farm animals or other livestock, we look to Chapter 87 of the Texas Statutes and Codes. This section refers to liability arising from equine activities or livestock shows.
To put this in some context, I recall a time I took my kids to a petting zoo. Typically at these places, they are required to display this particular law to explain to people that the petting zoo can't be held liable for animals behaving like animals. For instance, if someone is bothering a horse and it bites them. This is considered an inherent risk with animals, and owners can't be held liable.
While I was there, however, I overheard another patron talking with one of the staff about the sign. In explaining the law, the staff member included in example along the lines of some of the animals escaping the property and causing harm outside the zoo. The staff member indicated that they would not be held liable for this either. Well, that's where the staff member was wrong. Owners cannot be held liable for animals behaving like animals, but they can be held liable for situations arising due to the owner's negligence.
For example, lets say I livestock owner has his horses fenced onto his property, but he neglects to maintain the fences properly. As a result, the horses get loose and wander onto a highway, causing a car accident. The law dictates that the owner of the property and of the horses can be held liable for allowing this to happen. This is a situation which is not only foreseeable but also preventable. Any animal owner who would try to cite Chapter 87 of the Statutes and Codes as a defense for such an incident might find themselves with little to stand on.
With this particular accident, there are important details which must be considered. Where did the cattle come from? How did they get onto the roadway/leave their property? How long were they there? Why did their owner not know they had escaped, and could they have reasonably retrieved them before the accident? Context matters following such a complex accident, and it will take thorough investigations to determine the next best steps.
--Grossman Law Offices