On April 18, 2020, police in Fort Worth responded to a traffic crash at West Waggoman Street and Frazier Avenue at 4:14 in the afternoon. Jakyra Adams is accused of running a stop sign and speeding when the accident occurred. 

The car wreck killed a passenger in the other vehicle, 19-year-old Gabrielle Wiggins of Fort Worth. Wiggins died at the accident scene from blunt-force injuries caused by the crash.

Twenty-two (22) year old Jakyra Adams was booked into the Fort Worth Jail on July 28, 2020. She is charged with manslaughter in relation to the traffic accident.

Criminal Charges vs. Civil Charges Related to a Car Crash

In the accident above, the person accused of causing the accident by running a stop sign and speeding is charged with a crime. Manslaughter is described in the Texas Penal Code as recklessly causing another person’s death. 

Manslaughter, according to the statute, is a felony of the second degree in Texas. If convicted of manslaughter, a defendant could face from two to 20 years in prison and a potential fine of $10,000. Other penalties could be imposed depending on the facts of the case.

However, criminal charges are not the only punishment a person might face if they cause a car accident. If the accident results in a death, the person may face a wrongful death lawsuit by the family members. If a person is injured in an accident, the person may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Any criminal charges are separate from any civil claims that might be available to victims of a car crash. The civil claim does not depend on the outcome of the criminal case, nor does the criminal case depend on the outcome of the civil matter.

A criminal case determines whether the driver committed a crime and should be punished for that crime. A civil case seeks to hold the at-fault driver legally accountable for the victim’s damages and losses caused by the accident.

Damages in a Car Accident Claim

Because the justice system does not have a way to undo the damage caused by a car accident, it can only try to compensate the victim for injuries, financial losses, and other damages. A monetary award is based on the victim’s damages including, but not limited to:

  • The cost of medical treatment for injuries sustained in the car crash.
  • The cost of any personal care or in-home health care as a result of the accident.
  • Loss of income, wages, bonuses, benefits, and other forms of compensation if the victim cannot work. 
  • Any permanent impairments, disabilities, scarring, or disfigurement caused by the traffic accident.
  • Future damages for loss of income, medical care, or personal care because of a disability or permanent impairment.
  • Pain and suffering, including physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish.
  • Loss of quality of life and enjoyment of life.

How much money you might receive for a personal injury claim depends on the circumstances and facts in your case. In general, victims who sustain severe injuries and disabilities have claims with higher values compared to cases involving minor injuries.

What Should You Do if You are Injured in a Traffic Accident?

If another person causes an accident, there are several steps you can take to help protect your legal right to receive compensation for damages. Steps to take after a car wreck include:

  • Call 911 to report the crash
  • Remain at the accident scene
  • Do not discuss the crash with the other driver
  • If possible, take photographs of the accident scene
  • Get the names and contact information for eyewitnesses
  • Do not admit fault or apologize for the accident
  • Seek medical treatment as soon as possible
  • Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and keep detailed records of all expenses and losses
  • Do not provide the insurance company a statement or answer questions without talking to a personal injury lawyer
  • Avoid using social media and posting information online
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as you are stable to discuss your legal options

Insurance companies are not interested in paying the full value of your claim. They actively try to lower the value of your claim, if they cannot find a reason to deny the claim altogether. Do not give the insurance company any reason to dispute your claim.

Car accident lawyers are familiar with the tactics used by insurance providers to cheat victims out of the money they deserve. A lawyer can help you avoid some of the common mistakes made by people handling their claims without a lawyer. Avoiding those mistakes can help you increase your chance of receiving a fair amount for your car accident claim.