Earlier this month, I discussed a tragic situation in which a seven-month-old infant in a stroller was struck and killed on an Arlington sidewalk after a car and truck collided. Now the Arlington police have announced that the Tarrant County district attorney will not be pressing charges against either driver.
Daniel Bingenheimer and his son, David, had just left a local convenience store and were waiting on the curb to cross a street when the sedan slammed into a Toyota pickup truck. Shantell Skillern, the driver of the sedan, was traveling northbound on Cooper Street at a green light. She then made an unprotected left, and instead of yielding to the oncoming pickup truck, she crashed into it. As a result, the pickup truck ricocheted into the Bingenheimers, injuring Daniel and killing David.
Arlington police stated that there was not enough evidence for the district attorney to pursue criminal charges against Skillern. There were no signs of alcohol intoxication or even distracted driving, despite rumors that Skillern had been texting when her sedan collided with the pickup truck. I have long advocated for a ban on texting while driving, which is actually illegal in Arlington. The evidence did not support a criminal charge under the state penal code.
Instead, Skillern would receive a citation for failure to yield right of way. The fine for this offense, plus court costs, is expected to be more than $4,000. If instead of paying the fine, Skillern opts to go to trial and is convicted, a jury or judge could issue a fine ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. Meanwhile, the driver of the pickup truck is not expected to receive a ticket.
The Bingenheimer family learned that Skillern would not be charged on the day of David’s memorial in California. David’s grandfather thought that since Skillern acted negligently, she ought to at least be charged with manslaughter. He claimed that otherwise, she was not being held responsible for David’s death.
That is what civil courts are for in a case like this, however tragic. Even the Arlington police suggested that the family file a lawsuit there. There, the issue of whether and how Skillern was negligent would take on more prominence. Unlike criminal court, which requires a very high threshold for conviction, a finding of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a civil court jury just needs to find by way of “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant committed negligence. Although the exact figure to meet the standard of proof is not clear, it has been held that 51% would support a verdict in a civil court.
I have been representing Texans injured in collisions for 34 years. I have offices where I can meet clients in Fort Worth, Arlington, Dallas, and Houston. I only represent people who have been injured in vehicle accidents, especially those hit by drivers who are DWI. If you want an experienced Board Certified Fort Worth personal injury attorney who will provide you with compassionate legal representation, contact my office today to schedule a free initial consultation.