What Houston, TX Residents Need to Know About the Lisa Torrey Smith Act

17 Feb 2022
Greco Neyland, PC

Think that hitting a pedestrian with your car won’t result in anything more serious than a personal injury case and a rise in your insurance premiums?

Think again. Thanks to the Lisa Torrey Smith Act, Texas drivers can now be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if you cause bodily harm to a pedestrian, and may be charged with a felony if you seriously injure a pedestrian.

According to the Lisa Torrey Smith Act:

“A person commits an offense if the person with criminal negligence: (1) operates a motor vehicle within the area of a crosswalk; and (2) causes bodily injury to a pedestrian or a person operating a bicycle, motor-assisted scooter, electronic personal assistive mobility device, neighborhood electric vehicle, or a golf cart. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if the person suffered serious bodily injury.”

This law was passed after a vehicle struck a mother of two in a crosswalk, killing her. The grandmother in the case that killed that mother was not charged, as the law was not in force yet.

This month the first Houston driver was charged under this act. A 73-year old man was hit and killed while riding his bicycle. The driver did stop to render aid and did not appear to be drunk or on his phone, but he could still face a felony charge. This will be the first case where the driver is charged with a felony.

Defending Against Lisa Torrey Smith Act Charges

There are two effective defenses against Lisa Torrey Smith Act charges.

The first is to challenge the facts of the case. If they are inaccurate, if there’s a case of mistaken identity, or if you did not actually hit the pedestrian then you have a defense against these charges.

In addition, you have an affirmative defense if the pedestrian or other covered person was breaking traffic laws at the time. For example, if the pedestrian was jaywalking then you would have a clear defense, but you’d have to be able to provide evidence of your claims.

If You’ve Hit a Pedestrian You Need Help Now

It won’t necessarily matter that you weren’t, strictly speaking, doing anything wrong at the time. It won’t necessarily matter that Houston streets aren’t particularly designed for pedestrians or cyclists at all. All that will matter are the depths of the injuries sustained by the pedestrian in question.

Lawmakers now consider the burden of safety to be almost solely upon the driver.

Call a Houston attorney who will mount a rigorous defense on your behalf. Don’t let one moment of inattention ruin your entire life. Call our office to schedule a consultation today.

See also:

DWI Lawyer

Felony DWI Lawyer

Criminal Defense

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