- Offshore Injuries
- Truck Accidents
- Oil Field Injuries
- Industrial Injuries
- Industrial Accidents
- Business Disputes
- Construction Accidents
- Burn Injuries
- Children’s Injuries
- Dangerous Products
- Environmental Litigation
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Premises Liability
- Railroad Accidents
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Wrongful Death
Automotive & Car Wreck Injuries
Texas’ highway safety record is not an enviable one.
Car crashes take lives and destroy healthy individuals every day of the year. In fact, a total of 3,610 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents on the state’s highways in 2019. An additional 256,338 individuals were injured in a motor vehicle crash that same year. In essence, one person was killed every 2 hours 26 minutes, and one was injured every 2 minutes 3 seconds.
In the sprawling state of Texas, our vehicles are essential to our way of life, giving us freedom and mobility across our vast state. For most Texans, life without a car or truck is unimaginable, but driving on our state’s highways most certainly poses a risk. Regardless of how careful you are while driving on Houston roads, there is little that you can do about other negligent and careless drivers out on these streets. 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 be involved in a car accident — and a serious accident can turn your life upside down. Motor vehicle crashes in Houston and across Texas take an unacceptable toll on people’s lives, causing incredible physical, emotional, and economic suffering and hardship.
Our experienced Houston car accident lawyers can help you get back on your feet if you are struggling with the aftermath of a catastrophic car accident.
Crashes in Houston are often caused by a negligent driver who loses focus and becomes distracted, disregards the law, drives drunk, speeds, or drives aggressively. Eliminating reckless, dangerous, and negligent driving behaviors can save lives and prevent innumerable injuries.
Houston 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 those responsible who have caused 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 Houston car accident because of another’s error or poor driving, the experienced Texas car accident lawyers of Lapeze & Johns can help you secure compensation for the financial and quality of life damages you have suffered.
Choosing the Right Houston Car Accident Lawyer
When deciding on which lawyer to choose, take the following into consideration:
- Ask Friends & Family for Recommendations
One reliable way to find a car accident attorney in Houston is to ask friends and family members for a recommendation. Their first-hand experiences can guide you towards the right lawyer for your needs. On the other hand, if they aren’t able to provide you with some recommendations, don’t be afraid to do some online research. You can use the internet to find specific lawyers in your area.
- Experience Matters
While there may be similarities between car accidents, the reality is that every personal injury claim is unique. Because of this, you’ll want to work with an experienced Houston car accident attorney who knows the ins-and-outs of car accident claims and who can effectively represent you in a real court trial.
- Get an Idea of Their Communication Style
The value of choosing a lawyer who is clear, open, and actively communicates with you cannot be overstated. Many law firms work dozens of cases at a time, which means you won’t have an opportunity to speak with your lawyer personally.
If the lawyer doesn’t make time to talk with you in person (or via teleservices), then they probably aren’t going to give your case the care and dedication it deserves. Remember, as a client, you are paying the lawyer for their time and efforts.
Choose a lawyer who makes themselves (reasonably) available to you.
- Ask About Their Success Rate & Trial Record
Lawyers provide a necessary service, so you shouldn’t be afraid to ask them about their success rate. Understanding their success rate and trial record will give you a better idea of how much experience they actually have and whether or not they will be able to effectively represent you.
While not every case will necessarily go to trial, you will want to choose a competent lawyer who can defend your rights in court, should the situation require it. The lawyer’s trial record also helps to give you insight into their willingness to fight for all the compensation you deserve.
If you find that the potential lawyer tends to settle out-of-court frequently, it may be a sign that they prefer to accept minimal offers versus fighting for more compensation.
- The Lawyer Must Be Able to Deal With Insurance Companies
When it comes to car accidents, lawsuits often involve car insurance companies. An experienced Houston car accident attorney will make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve and will not allow an insurer to low ball you or deny your claim.
- Take Advantage of Free Consultations
Some law offices like Lapeze & Johns, PLLC offer a free initial consultation. Take advantage of this FREE consultation to better understand who our attorneys are and how we can help you to develop the strongest claim possible.
Whatever law firm you decide to meet with, you should have a few questions in mind, including:
- How many cases are you currently handling?
- What are your fees?
- What additional resources do you have available?
- How frequently will you (the attorney) be available?
- Who else will be working on my case?
Causes and Types of Car 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 97,853 distracted driving accidents in 2019, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
Perhaps the most dangerous distraction is texting, which increases 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
- 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 a 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, 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 kill more than 10,000 people across the nation every—or one person every 50 minutes—according to the NHTSA. The cost of drunk or alcohol-impaired crashes exceeds $132 billion per year. In Texas, in 2019, there were 886 people killed in DUI crashes, which was nearly 25% of the state’s traffic fatalities for the year.
DANGEROUS CONDITIONS ON THE ROAD
Dangerous road conditions often lead to car accidents around Houston. They may be the fault of the state or a municipality responsible for road design, maintenance, and signage. In addition, it can also manifest from 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 rollover
- Cars with defective tires subject to blowouts
- Faulty ignition switches
- Defective brakes
- Defective airbags
- Seat belt defects
- Dangerous gas tanks and gas lines
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
When you have been involved in a car accident in Houston, you are likely to be dazed and a bit confused at first. Take a few moments to check on yourself, your passengers, and to regain focus.
If you are uninjured, and safely able to do so, consider taking these steps:
- If safely able to do so, move your car off the road and turn on your flashers.
- If any passengers appear to be injured (including yourself), call 911 and request an emergency vehicle.
- If no one needs to be taken immediately to the hospital, call police on their non-emergency line.
- Begin collecting as much information from the other drivers involved in the accident, including names, contact information, registrations, plate numbers, and insurance information.
- Do NOT apologize for the incident as this can be taken as a sign of liability.
- If you are able to safely do so, take photographs of the accident, including the scene of the accident, damages to the vehicles, street signs, or other markers.
- Report the accident to your insurance company, including where and when the accident took place.
- Call the experienced Houston car accident attorneys of Lapeze & Johns, PLLC, for a FREE consultation.
- 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. Do not sign anything. Refer the adjuster to your attorney.
Common Houston Car Accident Injuries
A Houston traffic accident can lead to substantial injuries that can cost thousands in medical bills to heal or correct. Some of the most common and dangerous car accident injuries include:
- Cuts and Lacerations — In the aftermath of a collision, shattered glass, raw-edged metal, and unrestrained objects can fly around in the car, causing lacerations. These types of injuries may require stitches.
- Seatbelt and Airbag Injuries — While seat belts and airbags do indeed save lives, they can also contribute to injuries. Airbags can cause head or neck trauma, while seat belts can contribute to chest, neck, or back injuries.
- Broken Bones — Broken bone injuries frequently occur in high-speed crashes.
- Head and Traumatic Brain Injuries — Some of the most serious and dangerous types of injuries, these can occur as a result of whiplash or the force of impact. Head and TBIs can lead to permanent damage and long-term side effects.
- Spinal Cord Injuries — Spinal cord injuries can easily lead to paralysis or other serious conditions.
- Neck and Back Injuries — The impact of a rear-end accident can lead to spinal disc injuries, tissue injuries, and neck and back pain.
- Torso and Rib Injuries — The force of impact can cause an individual to hit the steering wheel, breaking ribs in the process.
- Internal Injuries — Internal injuries are caused by blunt trauma and can be difficult to catch without adequate medical care.
- Wrongful Death — Accidents with fatalities frequently happen. If your loved one lost their life as a result of another party’s negligence, you may be able to file a claim on their behalf.
Factors That Can Affect the Severity of Your Injuries
The severity of your injuries can vary based on a number of different factors including:
- Seat belts – Whether or not you and your passengers were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident will play a prominent role in your injuries. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seat belts can help reduce serious injuries by as much as 50 percent.
- The Speed of the Accident – The force of impact is directly related to the speed at which the accident took place. While high-speed accidents are likely to lead to serious injuries, even slower accidents can cause a catastrophic injury.
- The Location of Impact – The type of injury you suffer is often dependent on where your car was struck. For instance, rear-end collisions often lead to whiplash and back-related injuries.
- The Position You Are Facing – How you were facing can cause strains and soft tissue damage.
- Airbag Deployment – If the airbags did not deploy in your accident, you run the risk of striking your body against the steering wheel or other portion of the vehicle.
Types of Evidence to Gather for Your Houston Car Accident
- Accident Report
An official police accident report is an essential piece of evidence that you will need to obtain. The report should contain information about who was involved in the accident, where the incident occurred, who and what caused the accident, injuries and other details.
This is why calling the police directly following your accident is so important.
- Physical Evidence
Physical evidence, such as bloodied clothing after a serious Houston car accident, can help to prove the severity of your injuries. If you are not able to gather physical evidence immediately following your accident, ask a trusted family member or friend to do so on your behalf.
- Photographs & Video
Photographs and video of the scene of the accident, your injuries, property damage, and your progress through treatment are especially useful to give your claim weight. If you are safely able to do so, take photos and video as soon as possible, and from as many angles as possible.
- Gather Statements From Witnesses
If there were multiple witnesses to your accident, ask them for their contact information so that your lawyer can contact them later on for statements regarding your car accident.
- Medical Records
Medical records are especially important to keep and maintain as they clearly indicate your injuries and pinpoint exactly the cost of the damages you have suffered. Make sure to attend all medical appointments to request a medical record from every health provider who treats you.
Medical records to secure include:
- Medical bills
- X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other medical images
- Doctors notes
- Discharge information
- Treatment documentation
- Insurance Communication
Any communication with insurance companies should be recorded either by text or audio. Save all communication with your insurer, including emails, letters, and notes.
- Lost Wages
If you are unable to return to work as a result of your injuries, make sure to secure a doctor’s note signifying this. Next, make a copy and submit this to your employer, asking them for documentation that will show how much in wages you will be losing for the time you will miss. If you use vacation or any other form of leave, make sure to note this as well.
What Compensation Can I Secure for My Houston Car Accident?
Some of the damages that may potentially be recovered for your Houston car accident 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)
Texas Laws Regarding Car Accidents
If you or a loved one have suffered damages as the result of a car accident in Houston, please be aware that there specific laws that may affect your claim:
- If a person should be injured or killed in a crash the Texas Transportation Code section 550.026 states that the accident must be reported to the authorities immediately.
- The Texas statute of limitations set for a victim to file a claim over injuries suffered in a car accident is two (2) years from the date the accident took place. Because it can take time to uncover all the facts surrounding your claim, seek out legal aid as soon as possible.
When filing a claim and attempting to prove negligence, it will be necessary to show that:
- Duty of care: You were owed a duty of care. (ex. The party responsible for your accident should have been driving at the speed limit to keep others safe on the road.)
- Breach of duty: The defendant acted or failed to act in a way that led to a breach of their duty of care. (ex. The responsible party failed to control their speed when driving on the highway.)
- The breach of duty caused your injuries: It must be shown that the breach of duty is directly responsible for any damages you have suffered. (ex. The driver who was speeding failed to maintain their speed, thus losing control of their vehicle and crashing into you, causing you to suffer broken bones and other damages.)
FREE HOUSTON CAR ACCIDENT CONSULTATION
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 increase your chance of an adequate recovery at the law firm of Lapeze & Johns, PLLC. 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 civil justice for each of our clients.
Call the law offices of Lapeze & Johns, PLLC, 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.