Street racing is illegal and deadly. Either of the drivers could die, or pedestrians and witnesses could die when one or both vehicles careen out of control.
If you suffer injuries in a street racing accident, who is at fault?
Consequences of Street Racing
In addition to the civil consequences of a racer injuring or killing someone in another vehicle or a bystander, the racer could face criminal charges as outlined in Texas Statutes. Charges would range from a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense with no injuries to a second-degree felony if the racer caused severe injuries or death to another person.
Even if the state prosecutes the racer for criminal charges, the racer can still face a civil lawsuit. While there is a possibility that you could settle with the defendant’s insurance company, most insurance companies will not cover someone who was racing. Your option may only be to sue the defendant if the insurance company refuses to cover the incident.
Street Racing Accident Injuries
The injuries you could suffer vary widely, depending on whether you were a bystander in the open, in another vehicle parked on the side of the road, or one of the racers. Injuries also depend on the speed of the vehicle that hits you and whether the second vehicle pushes the first vehicle into you.
In addition to scrapes, cuts, and bruises, other injuries may include:
- Pulled or torn muscles, and other soft-tissue injuries;
- Simple and compound fractures;
- Internal injuries;
- Road rash;
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Back injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries; and
Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries could lead to long-term or permanent disabilities that prevent you from working or caring for your family. Because street racing is against the law, there is a possibility that the court could order the defendant to pay punitive damages.
Texas allows you to recover two types of compensatory damages and punitive damages after an accident. The court orders the defendant to pay compensatory damages to make you whole again. This means that the compensation is meant to repay you for the money you are out because of your injuries. If the court finds that the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent, it might order the defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant’s behavior.
Special damages, or economic damages, may include:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Past and future lost wages.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses.
Past expenses and wages are those incurred because of the accident and before a settlement or a trial award. Future expenses and wages are those incurred because of the accident and after a settlement or a trial award. If your injuries are severe enough to cause long-term or permanent disabilities, the defendant could be responsible for paying any relevant medical expenses and lost wages for the rest of your life—as long as the accident caused the injuries that caused the long-term disabilities.
General damages, or non-economic damages, may include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress because of injuries.
- Emotional distress if you lost a loved one in a street racing accident.
- Loss of quality of life.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of use of a body part.
- Loss of use of a bodily function.
- Excessive scarring.
The court usually orders non-economic damages if you suffer long-term injuries or if you lost a loved one in a street racing accident.
You might also recover compensation for physical therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychological therapy. Often those injured need one or more types of therapy, including psychological therapy, if your injuries or loss of a loved one leads to depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Settling Myself vs. Retaining an Attorney
Accident cases are often complex, and are even more so if there is a possibility that more than one defendant might share responsibility for your injuries. Additionally, insurance companies might try to take advantage of those who do not work with attorneys. Because an insurance company is in business to make money, it may try its best to pay out as little as possible for a settlement; and, in the case of street racing, could deny your claim because the defendant was breaking the law.
When you do speak to the insurance company, including your own, only give it your contact information, the date and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information. The insurance company may try to get you to answer questions—keep referring them to your car accident attorney, as the insurance company can use what you say against you.
Never tell the insurance company you were injured because you were street racing or watching a street race. Let your attorney handle that.
Retaining an attorney has several potential benefits, including:
- You do not have the stress of working with the insurance company.
- If the insurance company does not offer a fair and reasonable settlement, your attorney already has most of the information to file a lawsuit should you decide to take that route.
- Insurance companies are more likely to offer a fair settlement when working with an attorney.
- Often, when working with an attorney, your medical providers are more likely to hold your bills since they know a settlement or a trial award is more likely.
If you suffered injuries in a street racing incident, contact a car accident attorney for a free consultation.