FORT WORTH POLICE OFFICER GIVEN MAXIMUM SENTENCE OF 20 YEARS FOR INTOXICATION MANSLAUGHTER | Dallas, Texas Personal Injury Attorney Blog
Jesus Cisneros, a former undercover narcotics officer for the City of Fort Worth, was sentenced to the maximum punishment of 20 years in prison on charges with intoxication manslaughter in the death of Sonia Baker (27), a mother of two young boys, who was killed in December of 2009 in an accident prosecutors say was caused by Cisneros.
Prosecutors laid out their case claiming that the crash came after Cisneros attended a birthday party for a fellow officer at the Pour House, a Fort Worth bar. Prosecutors claim they have video recorded at the party show the officer drinking heavily, consuming 12 alcoholic drinks prior to the wreck. Yesterday, accident investigator Tim Lovett testified that alcohol caused the wreck. Blood alcohol analysis (BAC) on Officer Cisneros showed his BAC level was “more than twice the legal limit.” In addition, evidence revealed that Officer Cisneros was driving his cruiser at speeds of approximately 76 mph in a 35 mph zone during the time of the wreck.
Drunk driving is clearly a problem, and the problem reaches out across all walks of life. Each year, several members of various police agencies are charged with drunk driving. Despite the fact that we count on these police officers to be in control and to enforce the laws against drunk driving, we continue to see stories such as this where it is the officer who is charged with an alcohol related offense. These first responders are often the first ones to arrive at the scene of drunk driving wrecks, and they see first hand the injuries, the deaths and the tragedies associated with drunk driving, yet the story repeats itself.
We hope that you are never in a wreck much less a wreck caused by a drunk driver. However, if you are it is important that you understand your legal rights and that you take appropriate and timely action to protect your rights.
Can You Sue the Police?
In Texas, if you are struck by a police officer while he or she is on the job, the law limits not only who you can sue for the officer’s negligence, but also how much you can recover for the officer’s negligence. In Texas, if the officer is on the job at the time of the wreck, The Texas Tort Claims Act requires that you bring your claim or lawsuit against the governmental entity for whom the officer works (i.e. The City of Fort Worth), not the officer if the officer has immunity. See Section 101.026 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code.
Depending upon which governmental unit the officer works for, the law also limits how much can be recovered. The law caps the amount of damages that people get government to pay on these claims. The maximum amount that can be obtained rangers from $100,000 to $300,000 depending upon whether the governmental agency is a state agency, local government agency, municipality or an emergency service organization. See Section 101.023 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code.
Although in Texas there is a 2 year statute of limitations, when the person driving a vehicle is a local or state government employee, the law (Section 101.101 of Texas Tort Claims Act) requires that you submit proper written notice of your claim to the correct governmental entity within a much shorter time period, within 6 months from the date of the incident. However, depending on the unique facts of a particular case, there may be other laws that impose shorter notice periods and other notice requirements in addition to those in this section of the Texas Tort Claims Act.
In addition, if the case involves a claim against a federal employee, there are different notice requirements imposed by federal law. In any event, the lesson to be learned if you are every involved in any type of incident with a governmental employee, you need to appreciate that there are probably requirements imposed by that require you to submit proper legal notice of your claim within a very short amount of time to a specific person, and the failure to provide this proper and timely written notice of your claim, may cause you to lose all of your rights against the responsible person even if you file a lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations.
Is There Anyone Else You Can Sue When You Are Hit By A Drunk Driver?
In cases such as this where the person is injured or killed by a drunk driver, it may be possible to bring claims or a lawsuit against other people in addition to the drunk driver. You may have rights to bring a claim against the owner of the vehicle who entrusted the vehicle to a drunk driver. You may have rights to bring a claim against an employer who entrusted a vehicle to a driver with a poor driving record, or to an employee who was drunk while on the job, or
In addition, you may have a right to bring a claim or a lawsuit against the person who provided the alcohol to the intoxicated driver. This would include making a claim against a bar, a restaurant, a bartender, a waiter/waitress or other commercial provider of alcohol. These cases are referred to as a dram shop case under the Texas Alcohol Beverage Code which provides for the exclusive remedy against commercial providers of alcohol. In a dram shop case, it is very important to try to gather as much evidence as possible immediately after the event so that critical evidence is not lost, forgotten, or destroyed.
If you or a loved one are injured or killed by a drunk driver, we strongly recommend you contact an attorney as soon as possible to investigate your case and to protect your rights. Don’t be a victim twice. If you are in an accident, contact an attorney, and make sure you know what your rights are and protect your rights.
Montes Law Group, P.C.
Attorneys: Rachel Montes
1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100
Irving, Texas 75063
Telephone: (214) 522-9401
Facebook at Montes Law Group, P.C.;
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