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Head-on collision could lead to wrongful death case

Earlier this week, a man who allegedly drove drunk while serving probation for a previous conviction for driving while intoxicated had a head-on collision with another vehicle just outside of Houston's city limits.

The accident occurred on Sunday, June 25, at approximately 11 p.m. The driver, who was accompanied by two minor children, was riding in the Jersey Village section northwest of the city. As he drove down West Little York, he crossed over the yellow line into the path of an oncoming GMC truck, killing its driver.

Harris County Sheriff's Office crash investigators were on the scene immediately following the fatality. Deputies initially arrested the man on a DWI charge. The following day, the charge was upgraded to first-degree murder.

The defendant could face charges under Texas' "felony murder" statute, as it has no requirement of intent to kill. In an interview last year with the Houston Chronicle, the director of the Criminal Justice Institute at the University of Houston Law Center explained how such scenarios can unfold.

"If in the course of committing a felony, if a person commits an act that is dangerous to human life and it causes a death, then they can be charged with murder," she stated.

The driver had been on probation for first-offense DWI since he entered a guilty plea in court in January of 2016. Because his blood-alcohol concentration was over .15 percent, he was given a year's probation instead of being sentenced to jail. His probation would have ended in early October.

His bond was set at $100,000, and he was taken to the Harris County Jail. If he winds up convicted, he could serve a life sentence.

There certainly are no winners or losers in the above case. However, many survivors of those killed in accidents due to others' negligent acts don't realize that they have recourse to justice through the Texas civil courts.

This is true whether the person responsible for your loved one's demise was convicted of a criminal charge or not. In fact, a defendant can be found civilly liable in a wrongful death case and never even be charged or ticketed for an offense.

The reasons for this are clear. There is a much lower threshold of proof in civil cases than criminal, which paves the way for survivors to pursue justice through the Texas civil court system. This can be done in conjunction with a criminal prosecution or in lieu of one.

Don't let justice elude your family after a loved one's wrongful death. Fight back to hold liable parties responsible for all losses.

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Brian Jensen

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