On September 20, 2015, a tragic accident claimed the lives of an entire Texas family of four. The driver responsible for the crash, Ronald Cooper, is now facing serious charges that could land him in jail for an extended period. Three vehicles were involved in the crash that killed Roland and Melinda Sedlmeier and their two children, Sofie and Harley. Two teens in another vehicle were seriously injured. Cooper was taken to the hospital as well and was arrested on two counts of intoxication assault and four counts of intoxication manslaughter. For the families of those injured or killed in accidents like these, working with a Houston car wreck lawyer can ensure that those responsible are held legally accountable for their actions. A Growing Problem in Texas In 2013, the state of Texas ranked first in the number of deaths caused by drunk driving with 1,337 fatalities attributable to alcohol use. More than 15,500 injuries resulted from alcohol-related accidents during that same year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 40 percent of traffic fatalities in Texas were directly related to alcohol use on the part of one or more drivers. Texas law enforcement agencies are doing their part and made 99,195 DUI arrests during 2013; unfortunately, the number of crashes attributable at least in part to drunk driving amounted to 25,479. In Conroe, where the Sedlmeier family lost their lives, local residents report that drunk driving is an ongoing threat to public safety. There were 1,041 people killed in 2014 traffic accidents in Texas where a driver was under the influence of alcohol. More alcohol related vehicle crashes were reported from 2:00 am to 2:59 am than any other time period of the day. Repeat Offenders a Serious Issue According to the advocacy organization Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), nearly one out of three traffic deaths nationwide involve drivers under the influence of alcohol. One-third of those caught driving while intoxicated are repeat offenders who have previously been cited or have been involved in an accident involving the use of alcohol. MADD is a leading proponent for widespread use of ignition interlocks for DUI and DWI offenders. The driver in the September 20 crash, Ronald Cooper, had been arrested in 2008 for DWI; it is possible that implementation of a breath test device in his private automobile might have saved the lives of the Sedlmeier family. Legal Recourse for Victims In most cases, injured parties and families of those lost to DWI accidents can achieve some closure by pursuing their legal claims both in and out of court. By holding drunk drivers responsible for their actions, families and loved ones can ensure that these individuals pay for their negligence. Fair compensation can also cover medical bills, lost wages and other expenses incurred as a result of serious accidents. A professional Houston car wreck attorney can investigate the accident and determine all the parties at fault, which may include some or all of the following:
- Individuals who operate motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- The bars or establishments that over-served the individual
- Insurance companies representing the negligent driver
- Any individuals who knew that the driver was too intoxicated to operate a motor vehicle but allowed them to do so anyway
By pursuing financial claims against these responsible parties, victims of DWI accidents can increase their odds of achieving a fair settlement for their losses both in and out of the courtroom setting. While no legal action can bring back loved ones lost in drunk driving accidents, making sure that those responsible pay for their actions is a key step toward reducing the number of deaths caused by these incidents. Retaining the services of an experienced and knowledgeable Houston car crash lawyer can be the first step toward a fair settlement for your injuries or losses. These dedicated professionals can even the playing field in the legal arena and can help you achieve the highest compensation for damages sustained in Texas drunk driving accidents.