A single-vehicle crash in Cooke County claims the life of the driver and leaves the passenger with injuries. According to the crash report, officers state the accident happened on September 18, 2022 at approximately 6:30 p.m. when a Ford E250 van was traveling south on I-35. The driver did not drive in a single lane so he jerked the steering wheel back causing the vehicle to skid. It then hit a light pole and began to rollover, continuing westbound across the service road until it struck a stop sign where it came to rest in the grass. The driver, 33-year-old Jose Ubaldo Gallegos-Armendariz was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, 41-year-old Ruiz Villanueva Raquel, was transported to a nearby hospital for serious, but non-incapacitating injuries. Toxicology reports indicate that the driver had a BAC of .308 and this was a contributing factor to the cause of the crash.
Approximately every 8.5 hours, an alcohol related accident claims a life in Texas. As common as this seems, some estimates indicate that a drunk driver gets behind the wheel intoxicated approximately 80 times before it leads to an accident. 80 times! This driver was only 1 out of about 3 people who would lose their life to drunk driving that day. While the details of this crash may seem pretty cut and dry, there are still questions that need to be answered for those involved. Was the driver drinking at a bar or restaurant before the crash? Did he exhibit signs of intoxication when/if he stopped to purchase more alcohol? The passenger and the victim’s family need answers to these questions because it may change the way they move forward with an insurance claim due to the provisions in Texas Dram Shop Act. The Dram Shop Act allows victims and their families to sue an alcohol provider in Texas for their role in a death or injury caused by a customer they overserved. Lawmakers knew that the best way to help stop drunk driving was to stop it at one of the sources, the establishment or retailer, so they passed a law that gives the victim additional means to recover financially and punishes the bar for their role if they overserved an obviously intoxicated person. Losing a loved one or being seriously injured can leave people with lifelong consequences that are not only financially taxing, but emotionally devastating as well. If you feel you might have a Dram Shop cause of action, preserving the evidence is key to your case. This might include receipts, video evidence, and witness accounts. The only way to force a third party to provide this evidence is through litigation. This will require the assistance of an attorney, so it is a good idea to have an attorney review the case right away so that you know your options and if necessary, evidence can be preserved before it disappears. In this case, an alcohol provider might be liable which may provide the victims additional avenues to recover financially for their losses.