Earlier this year a rookie deputy with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department was killed when she was ejected from a motorcycle. The deputy was apparently riding as a passenger when the operator struck a curb sending the motorcycle airborne and ejecting her. The DWI motorcycle operator was later found to have a blood alcohol concentration level of .168 and has now been charged with felony intoxication manslaughter.
Lately we’ve been writing about the instability of the motorcycle apparatus in comparison to a standard vehicle in emergency situations. Motorcycles require skillful operators to manipulate the machine in ordinary conditions and even more skill to swerve or brake safely to avoid collisions. Operating a motorcycle while intoxicated not only impairs the driver’s reaction time, it inhibits his handling skill. In the case of the young deputy, it appears her driver was operating the motorcycle while impaired and, as a consequence, lost control of the motorcycle and the deputy lost her life.
If motorcycle accidents occur because of operator negligence, harmed parties include the person killed in the accident itself, as well as a family member who survives the victim. In the case of death due to negligence, harmed parties may be entitled to bring lawsuits for wrongful death or a survival cause of action. A wrongful-death cause of action is one for damages as a result of the loss of a child or spouse or parent, and includes damages for economic losses such as funeral expenses or loss of inheritance, and possibly punitive damages. Parties who are entitled to sue for wrongful-death may also seek compensation for losing the value of the personal guidance they received from their loved one, and compensation for mental anguish and loss of companionship.
A survival cause of action is a right in the victim’s heirs, legal representatives and estate to seek recovery for personal injury of the victim. Damages recoverable in a survival cause of action include pain and suffering, mental anguish, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and punitive damages. Usually, punitive damages are capped in Texas. However, no maximum limits apply in causes of action against defendants based conduct such as intoxication manslaughter.
Driving any vehicle while intoxicated is never a good idea.