Abelardo Lopez Killed, 1 Injured in Robstown, TX, Truck Accident
Robstown, TX -- February 5, 2017, Abelardo Lopez was killed, a truck driver injured, following a head-on accident between a pickup and an 18-wheeler.
The Texas Department of Public Safety responded to the fatal accident scene in the early morning hours of Sunday. The crash took place south of Robstown along Highway 77.
According to preliminary investigations, 23-year-old Lopez was traveling down Highway 77 in a pickup. Police claim that he was driving on the opposite side of the road leading up to the accident. This put his vehicle into the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler, and the two vehicles crashed head-on.
As a result of the collision, Lopez suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene. The driver of the 18-wheeler had non-critical injuries and was taken to CHRISTUS Spohn Memorial Hospital.
At this time, authorities have not confirmed what factors contributed to the accident. Alcohol and weather conditions are currently being considered.
No further information is available at this time.
Map of the Area
When I look at the fact patterns surrounding this case--wrong way driver, 2:30 a.m.--the first assumption that pops into my head is that alcohol was involved. Ultimately, there's no way to say for sure what happened. But I've seen enough drunk driving accidents to know that these are the typical actions involved and the typical time of day at which those kinds of accidents occur. News reports say, "it's unknown if fog played a role in the accident." This might be viable if the vehicle he hit was stopped on the roadway, but I've never seen fog so thick that I couldn't tell which side of the road I was on. This is why my thoughts lean toward intoxication. If this is the case, then chances are high that the victim was at a bar prior to the accident. when this is the case, then there is opportunity to pursue a claim under Texas liquor liability laws.
Texas liquor liability laws--otherwise referred to as dram shop laws--state that a licensed alcohol vendor which over-serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated customer can be held liable if that person hurts themselves or others as a result of their intoxication. When a drunk driver hurts themselves in an accident--running into a car, crashing off the roadway, etc.--then that is what is known as a 1st Party case. 1st Party dram shop cases are one of the most controversial areas of civil law, mostly for the reason that people see a 1st Party lawsuit as taking responsibility away from the drunk driver. It's much more complex than that.
Let's say I get really drunk and pass out. A buddy of mine thinks it's a good prank to put a loaded gun in my hand. In my drunken stupor, I discharge the gun and hurt myself. Now there are two parties that would be responsible for this. I would be responsible because I really shouldn't have gotten that drunk. That's my choice. However, my buddy would also be responsible for putting a gun into my hand and making an already dangerous situation significantly more so.
People might think that's an extreme example, but it's much closer to the reality of drunk driving accidents that our firm has seen over the years. In most liquor liability lawsuits, the bars involved didn't just give the victim a beer or two, they gave them upwards of 10 drinks, sometimes giving around four times the legal limit of alcohol. After making their money and getting to closing time, they kick all of these drunk people out of the bar into the parking lot to drive home. Hell, we've even seen a few cases where the staff dragged the driver to their vehicle and put them in the driver seat so they could leave. Not the most common thing in the world, but it wasn't the first time and it won't be the last.
Is it really outlandish to compare putting a drunk driver behind the wheel of a 2-ton steel box to putting a loaded gun into a drunk driver's hands? People are seriously hurt or killed every single weekend because of drunk drivers, and a lot of those drivers are hitting the road around 2:00 a.m. when the bars close and kick them out. We want drunk drivers held responsible, so why wouldn't we want negligent businesses to face justice too?
Texas law recognizes that drunk drivers are not the only to blame in a lot of drunk driving accidents. Bartenders and other licensed vendors must have the awareness to know when a customer i obviously intoxicated and cut them off before they can do harm to themselves or others. Simply put, over-serving alcohol to customers is illegal. End of story. Not only is over-serving customers a danger to general safety, it's a blatant disregard for the law which bars and other businesses are required to follow.
So when people say liquor liability laws take accountability away from the drunk driver, nothing could be further from the truth. Liquor liability laws bring negligent businesses to justice where criminal law does not. By allowing victims to seek compensation from businesses who directly contribute to drunk driving accidents, civil law holds these businesses accountable for their reckless and selfish actions.
--Grossman Law Offices