On the night of June 3, 2017, the Hernandez family was driving home from a family gathering. Dad Gilberto and mom Laura had their two little boys, Gilberto Jr. and Izael, in the back of their SUV. The family was approaching the intersection of McKinney Fall Parkway and William Cannon, when suddenly and unexpectedly, a car turned in front of them from the oncoming traffic lane. That car was driven by a woman who we will refer to as Sandra Stephens. Sandra was intoxicated and could barely stand without swaying. Gilberto and Laura got out of their car immediately to check on their kids. While our clients were assessing their children’s safety, Sandra took this opportunity to get back in her car and leave the scene of the accident instead of calling 9-1-1 to summon medical help. Sandra did not leave her contact or auto insurance information as Texas Law requires. The Hernandez family was able to get the police to the vicinity quick enough to locate Sandra as she was escaping. Sandra proceeded to make false statements to the police officers alleging our clients and her had decided to go their separate ways after the collision when in fact, our clients remained at the scene waiting for police, frustrated and scared because the drunk driver who hit them had escaped. Ultimately, Sandra was arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated and Leaving the Scene of an Accident.
The Hernandez family needed their car fixed and they needed a rental vehicle while their car was being repaired. They also needed ongoing therapy and eventually, they needed those medical bills paid and compensation for other losses. They hired a law firm to make a claim against Sandra’s auto insurance company. As is the case with many insurance companies, Sandra’s auto insurance extended a low-ball offer to the family, refusing to take their losses seriously. Ramos James Law was hired to file a lawsuit.
As soon as we filed the lawsuit, we took Sandra’s deposition. Sandra took full responsibility for the incident and testified she believed our clients should be compensated for their losses. Additionally, she provided testimony in support of our allegation of gross negligence, which would have served at trial to support our ask for the jury to award punitive damages against Sandra. Below are relevant excerpts of Sandra’s sworn testimony:
15 And do you agree with me that
16 operating a vehicle while you’re intoxicated involves a
17 certain degree of risk?
18· · · A.· ·Absolutely.
19· · · Q.· ·Okay.· A high degree of risk; correct?
20· · · A.· ·Yes.
21· · · Q.· ·Of injury to other people’s rights, and safety
22 and welfare?
23· · · A.· ·Yes.
24· · · Q.· · Do you agree that your actions on that
25 day didn’t show a lot of concern for the rides, safety
·1 and welfare of my clients?
·2· · · A.· ·Absolutely.
12 you did make the decision to bring
13 the six-pack to the party; correct?
14· · · A.· ·Correct.
15· · · Q.· ·You did make the decision to drink the entire
17· · · A.· ·I did.
18· · · Q.· ·And you did make the decision to smoke
19 marijuana on that day?
20· · · A.· ·I did.
21· · · Q.· ·And made a decision to then drink the cider
23· · · A.· ·Correct.
24· · · Q.· ·And you did make the decision to then get
25 behind the wheel?
1· · · A.· ·I did.
·2· · · Q.· ·So all of those decisions were made
·3 voluntarily; correct?
·4· · · A.· ·Correct.
·5· · · Q.· ·And you didn’t make arrangements for somebody
·6 to drive you home?
·7· · · A.· ·No.
·8· · · Q.· ·— did you?· Okay.· So I know that perhaps you
·9 didn’t intentionally hurt my clients, but what I’m
10 asking is do you agree that those decisions show
11 indifference to the rights of people in in the
13· · · A.· ·Yes.
14· · · Q.· ·Do you agree that those decisions show
15 indifference to the rights, safety and welfare of my
17· · · A.· ·Yes.
18· · · Q.· ·And then that actually led to the — to the
19 incident that that we’re here for?
20· · · A.· ·Correct.
21· · · Q.· ·And would you think it’s fair that if a jury
22 decides that you were responsible for this incident and
23 for my clients’ injuries that they get compensated for
24 their — for their losses?
25· · · A.· ·I think compensation would be appropriate.
Immediately after the deposition, our law firm sent a demand letter to the insurance company asking for policy limits, meaning the entirety of the insurance policy. We were successful. Our clients recovered as much as they possibly could have recovered against Sandra, which is the justice we were able to bring to them.
It is almost impossible to believe that in this day and age where rideshare is available to anyone with a cellphone, there still are reckless people who choose to get intoxicated and then get behind the wheel. Our community is still at risk at the hands of those irresponsible drivers. Ramos James Law is proud to represent many drunk driving victims in the hopes to restore their lives as best as we can.
If you have been involved in an accident involving a drunk driver, call us now at 512-537-3369. Do not wait until the insurance company low-balls you too.