Whenever an operator of a car crosses the highway and strikes an oncoming vehicle in Texas or elsewhere, the errant driver is considered negligent or reckless, and damages will be owed to any victims injured by that wrongful activity. The negligence of the driver does not mean that he or she intends to cause an accident; instead it refers to the failure to use due care under the circumstances to prevent an incident from occurring. In egregious cases, where the driving rises to a level more serious than negligence, punitive damages may be assessed against the at-fault driver as additional compensation to the victims.
A recent fatal accident indicates some of these principles. The Texas Department of Public Safety announced that an accident occurred on state Highway 94 west near Apple Springs in Trinity County on the afternoon of May 8. A 30-year-old male driving a passenger car traveling eastbound crossed the roadway and struck a westbound car driven by a 58-year-old female. The man's vehicle was then struck by an eastbound tractor-trailer that overturned in the roadway.
The driver of the errant car was pronounced dead at the scene. The drivers of the tractor-trailer and the other vehicle were taken to a hospital in Lufkin with undisclosed injuries. The deceased male caused the accident and therefore his estate cannot successfully claim wrongful death damages from either of the other drivers. The tractor-trailer driver cannot be blamed when faced with an emergency.
The emergency rule generally provides that when faced with an emergency on the roadway, the operator is not held to the highest standard of care and cannot be required to make perfect decisions under the circumstances. Therefore, the operator of the tractor-trailer and the operator of the other car are both victims entitled to compensation for their damages. The claim is made against the estate of the deceased at-fault driver pursuant to Texas law.
Source: lufkindailynews.com, "Livingston man dies in crash on Highway 94 near Apple Springs", Stacy Faison, May 8, 2018