If you require the services of a Houston car accident lawyer or personal injury lawyer due to a car or truck accident, our Houston injury lawyers are here to help you.
Car accidents can be immensely scary when they happen, not to mention that Personal Injury law is complicated and can be a huge headache to deal with, especially when submitting car accident claims. Personal injury attorneys can ease your headaches (no pun intended) in the aftermath of car accident.
Our personal injury law firm knows how important it is to you that you are able to move on with your life as soon as possible, with as little inconvenience as possible. But, contrary to some accident lawyers may imply, the first thing to do is not to find a car accident lawyer to start working on someone’s personal injury claims.
In fact, searching for a car accident lawyer to file a personal injury claim for you should be a distant second priority in your list of things to do. You should only seek an injury attorney after you have received complete medical attention and are free of the risk of any further physical harm.
Why Do Car Accidents Happen? Common Causes of Car Accidents in Texas
Car accidents happen for a lot of different reasons, but some causes are more commonly a contributing factor to an accident than others. According to the Texas Department of Transportation 2014 Crash Contributing Factors data, the most common causes of car accidents in urban areas like Houston, in order of most frequently reported, include:
- Driver inattentiveness.
- Failing to stay in one lane.
- Unsafe lane changes.
- Failure to yield when making a left turn.
- Following too closely.
- Disregarding stop sign or stop light.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol.
Car Accident Statistics for Houston, Texas
Car accidents are very common, and many people experience at least one accident during their lifetime. According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Crash Statistics for 2014,
- Statewide, there were 3,534 car accident fatalities.
- Statewide, there were 237,941 car accident injuries.
- In Harris County, there were 382 fatal car accidents resulting in 418 fatalities.
- In Harris County, there were 30,593 car accidents resulting in 45,628 injuries.
- The city of Houston had 214 fatal car accidents resulting in 227 deaths.
- The city of Houston had 20,531 car accidents resulting in 31,057 injuries.
Needless to say, there are a significant number of auto accidents. Most victims in Houston traffic accidents need information and guidance on how to handle their accident, injuries, insurance company, vehicle damage, and other legal matters related to their personal injury claim. This is where the the services of a good Houston personal injury attorney can prove beneficial in helping to get a fair car accident settlement.
A Houston Car Accident Lawyer Can Help Settle Complicated Car Accident Claims Related to Typical Car Accident Injuries
When you are involved in a car accident, there is no telling what kinds of injuries a driver or passengers will sustain, or walk away with, if they walk away from the accident at all. Small or large, the victims will need some sort of car accident compensation and our car injury lawyers in Houston can help. Some of the most common car injuries that take place in automobile accidents in Houston include:
- Impact Injuries. During impact, vehicle occupants can be moved by forces imparted from the impacting vehicle. Vehicular impact can cause glass to shatter, fiberglass to break, metal to compact, etc. Victims inside the vehicle can be injured by these things, sustaining injuries such as gashes, scrapes, burns, crushing injuries, and broken and fractured bones.
- Head and Brain Injuries. Head and brain injuries are very common in car accidents because the victim’s head is not restrained by a seat belt. At best, the victim’s head is cushioned by the head rest or side window airbags. Many car accidents are the result of a rear end accident, which can cause the head of the driver in front to strike the steering wheel or the windshield. Brain injuries, in particular, can be dangerous because they are not easy to detect without the aid of scanning medical technologies and because they can be slow-forming, meaning that a victim could start with a small brain injury that grows worse over time without treatment.
- Neck Injuries and Whiplash. Neck injuries are typical in car accidents, especially rear end and side impact crashes. The force of impact can cause the victim’s head to move sharply relative to the rest of their body, which is restrained by a seat belt. A sudden, sharp motion like this can be too forceful on the victim’s neck, and the victim can suffer muscle and nerve injuries in the neck.
- Back and Spinal Cord Injuries. Another commonly reported injury in car accidents is back injuries and/or spinal cord injuries. Car accident victims often tense up when they realize that they are about to be involved in an accident, so when impact occurs, their muscles can be very tight and tense. The impact can impart forces on the body, in particular the victim’s back, that cause that much more damage because the victim is so tense. Injuries to back muscles are common, as are injuries to the spine, and spinal cord. The force of impact can cause the vertebra of the spine to separate, compress, fracture or break, which can impact the spinal cord as well. Sudden movement of the vertebra during a car accident can sever, compress or tear the nerves of the spinal cord. Back injuries often require a very long recovery period.
- Loss of Limb. Crushing forces that happen during an accident can cause serious injuries to the extremities of the car accident victim. If the crushing force is significant, it can destroy the impinged limb entirely, or it can cause such serious damage that doctors will have to remove the limb by amputation.
- Chemical Burns. Airbags deploy as quickly as they do as the result of a chemical reaction. Many times during impact, the airbag will deploy, but will also be damaged, releasing the chemicals into the cabin of the vehicle. These chemicals usually land on the vehicle occupant situated directly behind the airbag, and can produce chemical burns to the head, neck and face of a victim.
- Loss of Life. All too many car accidents result in fatalities. Vehicle occupants can be killed as a result of impact, or the injuries sustained during an accident could be fatal.
A tiny fender bender could have happened with just enough force to cause a serious spinal cord injury, while a terrible, fiery crash might produce only a few minor injuries. The condition of the vehicles involved in the accident is never a good indication of the injuries sustained by the vehicle occupants. If you are the victim of a car wreck, in order to protect yourself you should at least seek the advice of a good Houston automobile accident attorney as soon as possible.
Being Involved In A Car Accident or Motorcycle Accident Houston Texas That Was the Fault of Another
When a car accident is due to the negligence of someone else, the injured victim (plaintiff) can seek compensation from the negligent party (defendant). Proving negligence will require a car wreck lawyer to establish four elements:
- Duty. When drivers are on the road, they have a duty to operate their vehicle with a certain level of care when it comes to other drivers who share the road. In the context of car accidents, drivers have a duty to obey traffic laws and to operate their vehicle in a reasonable way so that other drivers are not placed in danger. The plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff.
- Breach. Deviation from this normal standard of care by the defendant while behind the wheel can constitute a breach of a defendant’s duty to operate their motor vehicle reasonably. Failing to use ordinary care while behind the wheel places other people (drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians) in danger.
- Causation. The defendant’s breach of duty must be the cause of the accident.
- Damages. The plaintiff must show that they suffered damages (i.e., injuries or damage to their vehicle) as a result of the accident. Damages can take many forms, including, but not limited to, compensation for injuries, past and future medical expenses, lost wages and lost future income potential, and compensation for property damage.
Being Partially At Fault For An Accident: Modified Comparative Negligence in Texas
Sometimes a driver might be partially responsible for a car accident. For example, a driver who is distracted momentarily by his cell phone looks up from the phone to see another car rapidly approaching in the same lane he is in – and an accident ensues. Both parties contributed to the accident: the distracted driver was briefly inattentive, while the oncoming driver was driving on the wrong side of the road. How is liability determined?
Texas is a modified comparative negligence state. In essence, an injured party could be at least partially responsible for their own injuries and could still seek compensation from the other party involved in the accident, so long as the injured party that is suing is not responsible for more than 51 percent of the accident. When the injured party is at least partially responsible for their injuries, their recovery amount is reduced by the percentage of their own liability, up to 51 percent. A car accident lawyer is key to help determine If the suing party is more than 51 percent responsible for their injuries, then they may not recover anything from the other party. Each party’s percentage, or share, of liability for the car accident is determined by a jury.
Want To Sue Because Of Your Car Accident? Two-Year Statute of Limitations
Many people who are involved in a car accident ultimately decide that they need to sue the other party, or parties, involved in the accident, to obtain compensation for their injuries, property damage, etc. Under Texas law, personal injury and property damage claims related to a car accident must be brought within two years of the accident under the statute of limitations. Similarly, wrongful death claims arising from a car accident must be brought within two years of the death.
Personal Injury Lawyer Houston Texas – Establishing Liability For Car Accident Claims
It is not always easy for a Houston car accident lawyer to establish liability for an accident. It is not as simple as it might appear. Many parties could be liable for an accident and it is the responsibility of the car accident lawyer to help determine who is most liable. For instance:
- The victim could be partially liable for their own injuries.
- The other driver could be liable to the victim in part or in entirety.
- The other driver might have car insurance, and thus the other driver’s insurance provider may be liable for the victim’s injuries.
- If the other driver is uninsured, but the victim has uninsured motorist insurance, then the victim’s own car insurance provider may be liable to the victim.
- When an accident is a hit and run and the other driver’s identity is unknown, the victim might be able to obtain compensation from their own auto insurance provider, but this depends on the specifics of the victim’s auto insurance policy.
- If the other driver was an employee and the accident occurred while the other driver was working, the other driver’s employer may be liable to the victim.
- If the other driver was a government employee, the government might be liable (but a different legal remedy may need to be pursued).
- If the other driver was borrowing the vehicle from a third party, the third party might be liable to the victim in certain circumstances.
- If the other driver was intoxicated, the victim might be able to seek compensation from any bar, restaurant or other establishment that provided the drunk driver with too much alcohol under dram shop laws.
- If the accident involved multiple parties (i.e., a multi-vehicle collision), then it will be important to determine each driver’s contribution to liability to the victim.
- If the accident was the result of poorly maintained roads, lack of signage, or negligent road construction, the victim may have a cause of action against an appropriate government agency or construction company.
Houston Law Firms Working with Car Accident Insurance Claims
When you are involved in an accident, one of the first things that should happen after making sure everyone involved in the accident is all right is an exchange of contact and auto insurance information, later to be provided to the auto injury attorney you hire. If it was a Houston accident, the victim should be contacted by the at-fault driver’s insurance provider to negotiate an auto accident settlement. If it is not satisfactory the victim should seek the advice of a good car wreck attorney for assistance.
If the at-fault driver lacks car insurance, the victim can file a claim with their own auto insurance provider if the victim holds an uninsured motorist policy. The victim could also sue the at-fault driver as well.
When A Car Accident Case Needs A Car Accident Lawyer
Not all car accidents are very serious, and when the accident is just a minor fender-bender, or the injuries are few and mild, a car accident victim does not necessarily need the assistance of a car accident lawyer. However, when the injuries are substantial, the property damage is significant, or there are many parties involved who could be held liable for the accident, it may be a good legal strategy to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer.
A Houston car accident lawyer can handle the details of your accident case so that you don’t have to, giving you more time to focus on recovery. Your lawyer can handle the auto insurance claim and any lawsuit you might need to file, be it personal injury claims, property damage claims, insurance bad faith claims, etc. Car accident lawyers are familiar with all aspects of a car accident case, and will know what to do to get you the best possible recovery in light of the specific circumstances surrounding your accident.