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Texas re-opens accident investigation: Wrongful death involved?

A Texas accident that took the life of a teenage girl has been reopened by officials after the police officer involved allegedly did not follow proper protocol. Depending on the facts and circumstances, such a development might potentially bolster any wrongful death claim the family may pursue from the fatal crash. Not only did the officer not interview witnesses after the August 2011 crash, he also neglected to administer a blood-alcohol test.

The officer, a reconstruction specialist with the Deer Park police department, has been forced to take mandatory leave. The department has also initiated an investigation to determine why the officer failed to follow proper protocol. A spokesman for the department expressed embarrassment and asserted the department is a 'very professional' organization. The officer involved refused to comment about his tenure or the re-opened case.

Meanwhile, Deer Park police are again focusing on the car accident that killed the 18-year-old Texas teen. While there is no word on any wrongful death suit pending, re-opening this case could help the family make the decision to move forward with civil legal action that could potentially hold the driver responsible. As of now, there have been no reports of charges or arrests pending for the driver.

Not administering a blood-alcohol test in a car crash that killed may be a critical misstep. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is already difficult, but magnifying that loss with arguably poor investigation techniques potentially allows a responsible party to escape accountability, both criminally and in any separate wrongful death litigation. While it remains to be seen what the result of the reopened investigation will be, the surviving family will surely be interested in the results as they likely continue to seek justice for the teenager.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "Deer Park reopens probe into fatal crash," Iysha Batts, July 5, 2012

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