Struggling road to recovery: Houston community rallies around artist after devastating car crash

Houston artist and community organizer Bria Lauren says she's in the toughest battle of her life after recovering from a serious car crash that happened in October 2022. 

She was hit head-on near the corner of Alabama and Emancipation in Third Ward and left with injuries that required several surgeries.

"I had an L4 fracture in my back, which I feel every day," says Lauren. "I had a brain bleed. I had a serious head trauma and I had a bowel obstruction." 

The visual artist also had lacerations on her hand, a broken finger, and limited mobility - resulting in over $200,000 in medical bills.

Bria Lauren photo

Photo of Bria Lauren's car after the October 19, 2022 crash.

"I was and have been a working artist for years now and didn't have (health) insurance like many artists in the city," says Lauren. "We can't afford it and don't have it. Financially I've just been hit in a way that is unfair because it wasn't my fault."

According to the police report, the driver of a Black Dodge Sedan was cited for not having insurance. Multiple witness statements also state the driver was at fault.

Personal injury attorney Patrick O'Hara says, unfortunately, crashes like this happen every day in Texas - where over 20% of drivers on the road are without auto insurance coverage.


"Some of them get away with it because they'll buy insurance for six months to a year," says O'Hara. "They'll pay the first month, and then stop paying. So then they have proof of insurance that's not correct. The police officer isn't going to call the insurance company and verify."

O'Hara advises Texas drivers to add uninsured motorists' coverage on their policy. There's also a personal injury protection (PIP) option for many auto policies in the state.

"It costs more, but you have a one out of five chance of getting hit by somebody who doesn't have insurance," says O'Hara. "Your own insurance covers it for you. Lost wages, money for your pain and suffering, and money for those medical bills." 

Photo of Bria Lauren in the hospital recovering from the October 19 crash.

No health insurance for Bria makes things even tougher. She's applied for help from victims' advocacy and support groups in Houston and waiting on results. As of May 25, over $25,000 has been donated to a GoFundMe Account dedicated to covering the expenses.

Photo of Bria Lauren

"How do we protect artists and Black women when they're harmed?" Lauren asks. "When I think about how much art from artists, like myself, has contributed to the city of Houston. So what happens to us? I can't control what happened…but what I can control is my mouth communicating to my community that I need help." 

Remarkably, she's recovering well from the crash, and getting back to making art for her community. You can find out more about Bria Lauren's work and learn more about her journey on her Instagram page.