Jamal Smith Killed, Three Injured in Del Valle, TX, Accident
Del Valle, TX -- January 27, 2017, Jamal Smith was killed, three people were injured following an accident in which two vehicles crashed head-on.
The Texas Department of Public Safety investigated the fatal crash which occurred at around 11:45 p.m. in the 5300 block of TX-71.
According to their reports, a 27-year-old was driving a Chevy Cruz the wrong direction on the highway. As he did so, the vehicle crashed head-on with an oncoming Buick Enclave in the eastbound lanes.
As a result of the collision, 32-year-old Smith died at the scene of the accident. The driver of the other vehicle, as well as a woman and a 6-year-old from Smith's vehicle, were taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police have not released details on what occurred in the crash. Their investigations are ongoing.
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The last thing I want to do here is jump to conclusions, but honestly most of the times I see a wrong-way accident--especially 11:45 p.m. on a Friday--it's caused by intoxication. Now, it would be one thing if the news said "wrong-way" but actually meant, "crossed the center line." That sort of accident happens all the time, and there are plenty of things beyond intoxication that can cause it. But driving on opposite traffic lanes? There are very few ways for someone to accidentally do that, and I know from experience that intoxication is usually the culprit.
If this happens to be the case, then it needs to be determined whether or not the driver was drinking at a bar or restaurant before the accident. 11:45 p.m. is definitely within the range of time many people drive home after a night of drinking, and we see plenty of drunk driving accidents during these hours. The reason this is important is because victims and their families can pursue compensation from a business which contributes to a drunk driving accident. This is an area of the law called Dram Shop Law.
In Texas, Dram Shop Law states that a business which over-serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated customer can be held liable for damages resulting from that person's intoxication. In other words, if one of their customers shows a clear danger to the general public, and they serve alcohol to them anyway, then they can be held responsible for compensating the victims. Now, a lot of people think this is unfair to bars and restaurants who are "just doing business." Our firm has handled more dram shop cases than almost any other firm in the state, and I can say from experience that most dram shop suits don't involve a bar serving two beers to someone who crashes into a light pole. Most cases involve a bar or restaurant serving upwards of 10 drinks to someone before they leave the premises.
Our laws hold these businesses to the standard that they should reasonably know what it takes to make someone intoxicated. By disregarding this duty, businesses are directly contributing to these kinds of accidents. Whether it's controversial or not is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that over-serving alcohol to obviously intoxicated customers is illegal. The way our laws hold them accountable is allowing victims and their families to pursue compensation from the businesses that make money off of breaking this law.
When someone is hurt or killed in a drunk driving accident, they deserve to be compensated for their pains. Businesses which disregard the law and the safety of the general public deserve to be held accountable for their negligence. Dram Shop Law is one way to accomplish this.
--Grossman Law Offices