Texas’ highway safety record is not an enviable one. Car crashes take lives and destroy health every day of the year. In 2013, 3,377 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents on the state’s highways, and an additional 232,041 were injured. One person was killed every 2 hours 36 minutes, and one was injured every 2 minutes 16 seconds. Our seasoned Houston car accident lawyers can help you get back on your feet during this difficult time. In the sprawling state of Texas, our vehicles are essential to our way of life, giving us freedom, mobility, and economic choices. For most Texans, life without a car or truck is unimaginable; but driving on our state’s highways poses a risk. Regardless of how careful you are yourself, there is little that you can do about other negligent and careless drivers on the road. Despite all the precautions you take and your commitment to remain sober and alert behind the wheel, it is probable that you will at some point in your life be involved in a car accident; and a serious accident can turn your life upside down. Motor vehicle crashes in Texas and across the nation take an unacceptable toll on people’s lives, causing incredible physical, emotional, and economic suffering and hardship. Most car accidents can be prevented. Crashes are often caused by some driver’s negligence: losing focus and becoming distracted, disregarding the law, driving drunk, and speeding or driving aggressively are a few examples of negligent behavior. Eliminating reckless, dangerous, and negligent driving behaviors could save lives and prevent innumerable injuries. Texas personal injury lawyers know that one way to discourage negligent driving and other forms of liability for injuries to others on Texas highways is to hold anyone responsible for causing a car accident injury or death accountable to the victim or surviving family members. If you or a member of your family suffered an injury or death in a highway accident because of another’s error or poor driving, with help from an experienced Houston car accident lawyer you may be able to receive compensation for your financial and quality of life damages while helping to deter negligent driving behaviors, making the roads safer for everyone.
Death and Disability from Highway Accidents
Car accidents can create havoc with your body. The possible types of injuries are many, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries, including paraplegia and quadriplegia
- Neck and back injuries, including sprains, strains, and herniated discs
- Burn injuries
- Bone fractures
- Torn ligaments
- Facial injuries
- Internal organ injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Psychological damage: anxiety, phobias, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
- Chronic pain
What to Do When You’ve Been in a Car Accident
When you’ve just been in a car crash, you are likely to be shaken and dazed at first. Take a few minutes to regain your focus. Then:
- If possible, move your car off the road or to the side and turn on your flashers.
- Check on the condition of any passengers in your vehicle, and then, if you are able, check on the passengers in the other vehicles. If it appears that there are serious injuries, call 911 and request an ambulance.
- If no one needs emergency care, call the police on their non-emergency line and have an officer dispatched to take a report.
- Exchange names, contact information, registrations, plate numbers, and insurance information with all drivers. Do not discuss with anyone else at the scene how the accident happened, and do not apologize. You may feel an apology is in order, even if you didn’t cause the accident. For many polite people, it is a knee-jerk reaction to say I’m sorry, regardless of the circumstances. But to do so could be wrongly interpreted as an admission of fault.
- While waiting for the police to arrive, take pictures of the accident scene, being careful to include damage to each vehicle. Try to photograph a street sign or geographic marker that can help identify where the accident took place later on.
- Getting prompt medical attention is essential. If you’ve requested an ambulance, it will take you to the nearest emergency room. Otherwise, get yourself to an ER, Urgent Care clinic, or your own personal physician. Let the doctor know that you’ve been in a car accident. Be prepared to return for a follow-up visit. You may not realize right away that you’ve been injured. One reason is that you will typically experience an adrenaline rush during an accident, which masks pain. Another is that some injury types don’t become apparent for hours, days, or even weeks. If you don’t get medical attention soon after an accident, you may be risking your right to recover compensation for your damages.
- Report the accident to your insurance company, giving the date, time, and location, without providing details on how the accident occurred.
- Call an experienced Houston car accident attorney for a consultation. It is important to bring an attorney on board as soon as possible to protect your right to a recovery award. It is usually a mistake, which could cost you thousands of dollars, to try to negotiate a settlement directly with the adjuster. You will find the skill and experience you need in a Houston personal injury lawyer at the law firm of Lapeze & Johns, PLLC.
- Expect a call from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Do not engage in any discussion of the accident or your injuries. Do not allow the adjuster to take a recorded statement. So not sign anything. Refer the adjuster to your attorney.
Causes of Highway Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents on Texas highways caused by negligence have a variety of causes and can be attributed to other drivers who engage in distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, and aggressive driving, or some combination of these. Defective vehicles or their parts or hazardous conditions on the road may also cause an accident.
Distracted Driving Accidents
We live in a high-paced world where multitasking has come to be the norm. But the highway is not the place to be doing anything other than driving. Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car should only be focused on only one thing: the road. Doing anything else while driving that creates a distraction, even for a few seconds, can be deadly. In Texas there were 460 people killed in distracted driving accidents in 2013, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Perhaps the most dangerous distraction is texting, which increase the likelihood of a crash by 23 times. Other distractions include:
- Talking on a cell phone
- Rubbernecking (looking at roadside events or accidents)
- Adjusting the radio
- Choosing or inserting CD
- Eating or drinking
- Grooming, for example brushing hair or applying makeup
- Setting the GPS
- Consulting a map or written directions
- Disciplining children
- Unrestrained pets
- Reaching for fallen objects
- Talking to passengers
A distraction while driving at a high speed, even a momentary one, may cause a driver to:
- Drift out of the proper lane and into the path of an oncoming car traveling in the opposite direction
- Fail to signal lane changes or turns
- Change lanes without checking blind spots
- Turn the wrong way onto a one way street
- Enter a highway ramp in the wrong direction
- Disregard a traffic signal
- Fail to notice a bicyclist or pedestrian on or near the road
Aggressive Driving and Speeding
Driving faster than the legal limit increases the danger of losing control of the car, and it also increases the force of the impact in a crash, increasing the likelihood of catastrophic injuries or death. Excessive speed is a factor in a third of all highway accidents. Aggressive drivers often exceed the speed limit as they weave in traffic, cut others off, zoom up on other cars from behind, and tailgate. This type of driving is often accompanied by other types of rude and dangerous behavior, such as cursing, using obscene gestures, and failing to signal.
Driving under the Influence
Alcohol and drug use and driving simply do not mix. This includes not only illegal substances, but also prescription and over-the-counter medications. Alcohol-related crashes killed 10,322 people across the nation in 2012—one every 51 minutes—according to the NHTSA. The cost of drunk or alcohol impaired crashes exceeds $132 billion per year. In Texas, in 2013, there were 1,089 people killed in DUI crashes, which is nearly a third of the state’s traffic fatalities for the year.
Dangerous Conditions on the Road
Dangerous conditions on the road are often responsible for accidents. They may be the fault of the state or a municipality responsible for road design, maintenance, and signage, a construction company that has left the pavement littered with obstacles or debris, or a truck that has left blown out tire treads or fallen cargo on the pavement. These are some of the more common road conditions that cause highway accidents:
- Faulty road design
- Hazardous road construction area
- Objects or debris on the road
- Potholes or cracked, uneven pavement
- Lack of a level shoulder
- Missing guardrails
- Standing water
- Detached tire treads
- Snow and ice, especially black ice
- Lack of lane dividers or pavement markings, especially on winding roads
These cases may be complicated by challenging issues regarding the cause of the accident, civil engineering, or government immunity, so make sure your attorney is familiar with this type of case.
Defective Cars and Components
It seems that hardly a day goes by when one of the major auto manufacturers doesn’t issue a safety recall of their vehicles. Most of these recalls occur only after they have caused accidents resulting in injury or wrongful death. When a defect in a car or one of its parts can be proven to have caused your accident, the manufacturer can be held strictly liable for your damages. This means that it is not necessary to prove negligence, only that a defect existed, that it was the direct cause of your accident, and that you suffered damages as a result. The attorney you select to represent you should have specific experience in product liability claims. A few recent examples of motor vehicle defects that have caused serious accidents include:
- SUVs that roll over
- Cars with defective tires subject to blowouts
- Faulty ignition switches
- Defective brakes
- Defective airbags
- Seat belt defects
- Dangerous gas tanks and gas lines
Getting Help Following a Car Accident in Texas
When you’ve been seriously injured or have lost a family member in a motor vehicle accident that was caused by someone else, you’re entitled to make a claim for compensation for your injuries against the person who caused your accident, the company or government entity responsible for causing or allowing a hazardous road condition, or a manufacturer of a defective vehicle or one of its parts. In each of these cases, having a highly experienced Houston car accident attorney is essential to getting the compensation you deserve. A personal injury claim will follow the modified comparative negligence rule with a 51 percent fault percentage. This means you are able to be found up to 51 percent responsible for your injuries in your Texas personal injury claim and still recover damages. You will need a knowledgeable and experienced Houston personal injury lawyer representing you in negotiating your claim, or when necessary, trying your case to a jury. In Houston, you will find the skilled advocacy that will maximize your chance of an adequate recovery at the law firm of Lapeze & Johns, LLPC. We are dedicated car accident attorneys with 35 years of total experience representing injured clients and survivors of the victims of fatal accidents. We understand the devastating consequences of car accident injuries to victims and their families, and are committed to aggressively fighting for justice for each of our clients. We have a success rate of 95 percent in the cases we accept. Some of the damages that may potentially be recovered include, but are not limited to:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost earnings and earning potential
- Expenses for household services you can no longer perform
- Cost of transportation and childcare for medical appointments
- Cost of assistive devices
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Psychological disturbance
- Loss of affection, companionship, or marital consortium
- Diminished quality of life
- Funeral expenses (in wrongful death cases)
Free Car Accident Consultation
Call the law offices of Lapeze & Johns, LLPC today to arrange a free consultation. Tell us about the accident and your injuries, and we’ll explain the legal process and answer all of your questions. We accept personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency agreement, so you will never receive a bill for legal fees or expenses unless we win money for you. Call now, because if you wait, you could miss a filing deadline and lose your right to make your claim.