legal II 10/5/22 – Car Accidents – gtg

Car Accidents
What are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents, and How Can You Stay Safe?
According to TxDOT reports, there were 4,489 deaths and 239,539 injuries on Texas roads in 2021. That death toll of 4,489 increased 15.22% from the 3,896 deaths recorded in 2020.

You might be entitled to financial compensation if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident. At our Law Firm, we represent accident victims as they try to get back on their feet following a devastating crash. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Speeding
In 2021, 1,522 Texans were killed due to speeding. Speeding is one of the easiest things to avoid, so it causes many traffic accident injuries.
Speeding is only one form of aggressive driving. According to a study by AAA, about 80% of drivers engage in aggressive driving at least once a year. Other forms of aggressive driving can contribute to car accidents, such as:
Tailgating
Swerving
Passing on the right-hand side
Passing without signaling
Refusing to yield the right of way
Running red lights
Brake checking
Some aggressive drivers are in the grips of road rage, which impairs their ability to make reasonable decisions. Look for drivers who shout profanity at you or make obscene gestures. You should give these drivers a wide berth and not escalate the situation by making eye contact or engaging in inappropriate behavior.

Alcohol
In 2021, there were 1,077 people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes where a driver was under the influence of alcohol. This is 24.00% of the total number of people killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. In addition, Texas saw 25,261 overall drunk driving-related traffic crashes in 2021 — an increase of 9% from the previous year.

Texas law limits the amount of alcohol that can be in your blood. According to Texas law, drivers 21 and older cannot have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. If the driver is under 21, they cannot have alcohol in their blood. Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. If you’re under 21, are asked to take a breath test, and blow anything over 0 (zilch, nada), then you’re probably looking at getting a driver’s license suspension at the very least.

Practicing effective defensive driving and avoiding accidents with intoxicated drivers is tough. Nevertheless, you can minimize your risks of a crash by following these simple tips:
*Avoid driving on days when you can anticipate many revelers are on the road. These holidays include Super Bowl Sunday, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and St. Patrick’s Day.
*Minimize the amount of late-night driving that you do. More people drink in the evening than during the day, so it stands to reason more drunk drivers are on the road at night.
*Keep a safe distance between yourself and other cars to have enough time to react.
*Drive slightly on the right-hand side of your lane. Drunk drivers often drift into other lanes, so you give yourself a little extra room by being further to the right.
*Report suspicious driving to the authorities so that they can investigate.
*Model responsible driving for your family by never getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks.

Distracted Driving
Nationwide statistics confirm that distracted driving is a serious problem. According to government statistics, distracted drivers kill about nine people each day. Another 1,000 suffer an injury in an accident caused by distracted drivers. According to NHTSA, there were 36,096 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019, which represented a 2% decrease from 2018 fatalities of 36,835.

Distracted driving can take many forms, including:
Texting
Talking on the phone
Eating
Drinking
Reaching for something
Daydreaming
Falling asleep
Staring at the scenery
Arguing with someone in the car
Applying makeup
Drivers must always keep their eyes glued to the road, especially when traveling at high speeds. If you need to speak on the phone or eat something, remember to pull over to a rest stop or even onto the shoulder of the road so that you do not pose a risk to other drivers.

Malfunctioning Vehicles
Another potential cause of accidents is defective vehicles. When a vehicle malfunctions, a driver can quickly lose control of it. Common causes include:
*Defective tires that blow out
*Malfunctioning steering systems that cause drivers to lose control
*Brakes that fail
These defects can cause a car accident, leaving injured victims with devastating injuries. In these cases, the driver probably did nothing wrong. Instead, the vehicle itself is to blame for the accident. To ensure your vehicle is tip-top, create a maintenance schedule and stick to it. You should also check the most recent car recalls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. To check whether your vehicle has been recalled, you can search by the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which you can find on your registration or on the car itself (look on the dashboard). You can also subscribe to a notification system by providing your email.

Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer Today
Injured motorists and their families need compensation to pay for medical expenses, replace lost wages, and repair their vehicles. If someone else is responsible for the crash, you can seek a settlement from their insurer.

At our Law Firm, our team of talented car accident lawyers has represented injured motorists like you for decades. Our client-centered approach has yielded impressive results for our clients. Fortunately, you don’t pay anything unless we win your case. To start the process of seeking total compensation for your injuries, contact us today for your free, no-strings consultation. There is never any cost to you until we win compensation.

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Dealing with Insurance Companies After an Accident
In the case of nearly every car accident, one of the first steps you, the injury victim, will want to take to begin recovering compensation for your injuries and losses is to file an insurance claim. You can file a first-party claim with your insurance carrier, or you may choose to file a third-party claim with the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver. In either event, however, pursuing a claim through an insurance carrier can be frustrating and confusing.

Insurance companies – like any other for-profit business – exist to make profits for their shareholders. An insurance company makes a profit when the number of premium payments it receives from its policyholders exceeds the amount of money it pays for legitimate claims submitted to the company. Conversely, an insurance company will lose money if the amount it receives in the form of premiums is less than the amount it expends in paying legitimate claims. Therefore, any insurance company (whether you are its customer or a policyholder) has a significant financial incentive to pay as little as is legally permissible on your claim.

How Does the Insurance Claim Process Work?
How your insurance claim is handled will depend on whether you file a first-party claim or a third-party claim:

When filing a first-party claim with your insurance company, you must report the crash to your insurance company. Depending on your carrier, this initial report may need to be made in writing, online, and by telephone. Your insurance company may ask you to provide a recorded statement at this time about the crash and how it occurred. Still, it is usually better to consult with an experienced insurance claim attorney before doing so. Once your claim is submitted, your insurance company will send an adjustor who will review your injuries and losses and verify your coverage. If the adjustor finds you have suffered a covered loss, your insurance company will pay your claim up to your policy limits.

When you file a third-party claim, the process is nearly identical to the process applicable in the case of first-party claims. The significant difference between the two is that before the other driver’s insurance company pays your share, the insurance company will want to determine whether their insured driver is at fault for causing the crash. It will pay your claim up to the insured’s coverage amount if selected. If your first-party or third-party claim is denied, the insurance company will usually inform you of the reason your claim was denied and what you can do to appeal the decision.

What is the Relationship Between an Insurance Claim and a Car Wreck Lawsuit?
An insurance claim and a car crash lawsuit are vehicles through which injured drivers and passengers can obtain compensation for the harm they suffer due to the crash. While insurance claims may be quicker than car wreck lawsuits (especially first-party claims), an insurance carrier presented with a legitimate claim will only pay up to the policy’s limit. If your injuries and losses are more significant than the policy’s limits, you will need to initiate a car accident lawsuit to recover the difference. No law prohibits or limits your ability to obtain total and fair compensation.

When you file a first-party claim, your insurance company will likely seek compensation for the money paid to you from the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company. This may benefit you because as you pursue your lawsuit for additional compensation, your insurance company will follow its claim against the same defendant(s). Therefore, you and your attorney may work cooperatively with your insurance company’s representatives to resolve your claim and lawsuit successfully.

What Should I Keep in Mind While Speaking with an Insurance Company?
After a crash, you must remain on guard when speaking with any insurance company representative (even your own). While the representative/adjustor may appear friendly and as if he or she wants to help, these individuals may attempt to obtain information from you that can be used to reduce or deny your claim. As a result, keep the following tips in mind:

*Do not give an insurance representative any written or recorded statements without first talking with an attorney. Comments you make in writing or over the phone can be used to assign fault to you and thereby reduce – or even deny – your claim. An attorney can help you prepare a written statement (or prepare you to give a recorded statement) that accurately describes the events of the crash while still protecting your rights.
*Do not believe that you must accept the insurance company’s first offer. Recall that insurance companies can only make money when the amount they pay for claims is greater than the amount they receive in premiums. As a result, the initial amount that an insurance company offers you to settle your claim may be unrealistically low. Before agreeing to accept any payment on your claim, it can be helpful to have an attorney review the offer to ensure you receive an appropriate amount for your losses.
*Avoid signing any document expressing “waiving” your rights or “releasing” your claim. Insurance companies regularly present these documents and make signing them a condition of accepting a payment from the insurer. However, these documents may make it impossible for you to pursue additional legal rights you may have.

Our Accident Attorneys are here to help you protect your legal rights and recover a compensation award that adequately addresses your losses and expenses following a car wreck. Contact our office to learn how we can help you deal with insurance companies and the claims process. Call today and speak with our knowledgeable and dedicated legal team.

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What to do if You are in a Car Accident with an Uninsured Motorist?

Texas law requires drivers to purchase an insurance policy that provides a certain amount of liability coverage. Unfortunately, not all motorists comply with this law, which can have severe consequences for others on the road and sustain injuries in an accident. It is still possible for car accident victims to recover compensation for their damages and losses in these cases, so if you were injured in a crash and do not have insurance or the at-fault party does not have liability coverage, it is essential to contact an experienced car accident attorney who can explain your legal options.

What Does TexasLaw Require Drivers to Carry in Liability Coverage?
For drivers in Texas. The law requires all drivers to purchase and carry a liability insurance policy that provides at least the following:

At least $30,000 of coverage for injuries per person
Up to a total of $60,000 per accident
And $25,000 of coverage for property damage. This is called 30/60/25 coverage.
These types of policies compensate those who are injured as a result of the policyholder’s actions. However, these are only minimum requirements, so many drivers choose to purchase additional coverage to ensure that they are not held personally liable in the event of injuries in an accident.

What is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
In addition to regular liability insurance, most insurers offer uninsured/underinsured motorist policies, which cover injured parties if a driver either does not have liability insurance or has a policy that does not cover the total cost of a victim’s damages, which is also referred to as being underinsured.

Specifically, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage pays for injuries to the policyholder and anyone else in his or her car who is injured in an accident by an uninsured at-fault driver. Similarly, uninsured motorist property damage policies pay for damage to the insured’s car when involved in a collision with an uninsured driver. These policies are usually limited to $3,500 and only apply if the at-fault driver is identified. Finally, underinsured motorist policies cover certain costs for bodily injury to help supplement the at-fault party’s insurance if his or her coverage is not enough to pay for the damage.

Not all drivers carry uninsured/underinsured motorist policies, and those that do may still come up short if they sustain a severe injury in an accident, as most uninsured motorist policies have the same limits as the policyholder’s liability insurance. Even those who have uninsured policies and are injured by an uninsured driver could have to pay medical bills out of their pocket if the cost of treating their injuries exceeds these limits.

Fortunately, in these cases, and when an accident victim is injured by an uninsured driver and does not have uninsured/underinsured driver coverage, the injured party could still be eligible to recover damages by filing a claim against the at-fault party in court. However, it is essential to keep in mind that drivers with uninsured motorist coverage who are injured by an uninsured driver and who file a claim against the at-fault driver in court may not be eligible to recover compensation from the insurer under the policy or may be required to pay some of it back if they have already received a payment. These situations are complicated, so it is a good idea to speak with a car accident attorney at our Law Firm before taking any legal action on your own.

Can I File a Lawsuit Against an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver?
In some cases, the only recourse for drivers who do not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and who are struck by a motorist without insurance is to file a lawsuit against that person in court. Although they may be unable to recover the entire amount of their losses, this is often the only opportunity to collect compensation to cover the costs of:

Past and future medical bills for injuries sustained in the car accident;
Property damage from the car accident;
Lost wages; and
Loss of future income.
These types of damages, known as economic damages, are intended to help make a victim whole by covering all easily quantifiable losses. However, successful plaintiffs are also often eligible to recover non-economic damages, compensating accident victims for losses that are more difficult to put a price on, such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and disfigurement. In Texas, there is no limit on the amount of non-economic damages a car accident victim can collect.

However, a few exceptions exist when a court refuses to award an injured party non-economic damages, even if the at-fault driver was insured. For instance, accident victims convicted of a DUI in connection with the same crash are not eligible for non-economic damages. Similarly, injured parties who were also driving or owned the vehicle involved in the collision, but were uninsured, cannot recover these damages. The only exception to this rule is in cases where the at-fault driver is also convicted of a DUI in connection with the collision. In these cases, uninsured drivers can collect compensation for pain and suffering.

Can I Still Recover Damages if I was Partly at Fault for the Car Accident?
Texas is a comparative negligence state. Under the Texas modified relative negligence standard, you can sue for damages even if you are partially at fault for an accident. However, if you are found to be more than 50% to blame for an accident, you cannot recover any damages.

If You Were Injured in a Car Accident, Contact the Legal Team at our Law Firm For a Free Consultation
Filing any car accident claim is often tricky when you haven’t done it before. This is doubly true when the at-fault party is also uninsured, so if you were injured in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you need the advice of car accident attorneys who can ensure your rights and interests are protected. Keep in mind that we don’t charge for the initial consultation. Please call or chat today to speak with one of the car accident attorneys at our Law Firm about your accident.

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Preparing for a Car Accident Deposition
If you were involved in a severe car accident, the odds are that you will have to participate in a deposition.

Depositions are part of the pre-trial discovery process, during which all parties, as well as any witnesses, will be asked to give their testimony on what happened on the day of the accident. Although this is often the last thing that car accident victims want to go through, it is an essential step in seeking compensation for accident-related losses.

If you were involved in a car accident and want to learn more about what you can expect at your deposition, the attorneys at our Law Firm will ensure that you are prepared. Please give us a call, and we’ll explain the process.

What is a Car Accident Deposition?
Car accident depositions allow lawyers to gather information about what occurred on the day of an accident. This is achieved by asking the other party questions similar to those that would be asked if the case went to trial. Aside from gathering evidence from the parties involved and eyewitnesses who may have seen the accident occur, depositions also allow attorneys to collect testimony that can later be used to impeach a witness if he or she changes a response.

Unlike trial proceedings, depositions do not take place in a courtroom but are usually conducted at our law office. A court reporter records each question and answer, so the transcript can be studied and later used to refute or support testimony at trial.

The amount of time that deposition takes depends on the circumstances of the case. Generally, the more complicated a case is, the longer a deposition will take, sometimes spanning several days. Alternatively, the deposition for a relatively straightforward case may only take 30 minutes.

Preparing for Your Car Accident Deposition
Depositions can be stressful, especially for those still suffering from severe injuries who do not want to relive their traumatic experience. Fortunately, there are specific steps that a person can take to help make depositions a less taxing process.

If you’ve recently been injured in a car accident, we know that the last thing you want to do is to subject yourself to intense questioning by insurance company lawyers. This is, unfortunately, a necessary part of the process. Our attorneys know what to expect, and we’ll prepare you thoroughly.

Preparation, for example, is critical when it comes to car accident depositions. This includes retaining an experienced car accident attorney who can help prepare the party for the questions that he or she will most likely be asked, as well as:

Revisiting the scene of the crash to help refresh their memory as to what happened on the day of the accident;
Providing the opposing party with answers to specific questions by submitting written responses; and
Reviewing earlier statements can help ensure that the parties’ verbal responses match their written answers.
While taking these steps won’t eliminate all of the stress that comes with a deposition, it can help the parties feel more comfortable and at ease.

What To Expect at a Car Accident Deposition
Most car accident depositions cover three main topics:

The parties’ backgrounds;
How the accident occurred; and
The nature of the plaintiff’s injuries and the course of his or her medical treatment.
When it comes to personal background, deposition questions usually cover the following information:

Each party’s name and contact information, including addresses;
Each party’s educational background;
Each party’s marital status, number of children, and living situation;
Each party’s health background, including injuries and health problems that existed before the accident, as well as injuries experienced since the accident, and the contact information for doctors visited in the last ten years;
Both parties’ employment situation, including current job duties, hours, and how much time they were required to take off as a result of the accident;
Each party’s criminal background; and
Whether either party has filed a lawsuit or a workers’ compensation claim.
After covering this information, attorneys will usually move on to the accident itself, requiring testimony about:

The time, date, and location of the crash;
Which direction was each party heading before the collision;
The weather and traffic conditions at the time of the accident;
Whether any traffic control devices, like lights, lane markings, or signs, were involved;
Both parties’ speed at the time of the crash;
Which areas of the vehicle were impacted;
Whether either party spoke to the other after the accident and what was said;
What physical damage was sustained by the cars, and how much did it cost to repair them;
Whether anyone witnessed the accident; and
Whether any reports were generated after the accident.
It is not uncommon for deposed people not to know the answer to one or more of these questions. In these cases, it is essential to admit a lack of knowledge and not to guess or make suppositions. Finally, the attorneys on both sides will ask about each party’s injuries and treatment, which includes an explanation of the damages caused by the car accident, where the parties received treatment for injuries when medical care was first obtained, what the party’s symptoms were, the amount incurred in medical bills, how much time, if any, the parties took off from work, and how the injuries have affected day-to-day activities and personal relationships.

Tips for Your Car Accident Depositions
Keeping a few simple things in mind can help the car accident deposition process go smoothly, including:

Carefully listening to each question;
Asking for clarification of a question before answering;
Examining any documents that are presented at the time of the deposition;
Telling the truth, which is required by law;
Answering questions as precisely as possible;
Refraining from volunteering information that was not requested;
Refraining from speculating on answers; and
They stay calm, even if the opposing counsel is combative, as attorneys are best positioned to object to inappropriate questioning.
It is also a good idea for the parties to refresh their memories by reading the police report, looking at pictures, or reviewing any statements made on prior occasions. Taking these steps can ensure that your deposition is as stress-free as possible.

To speak with an experienced car accident attorney about your situation, please contact our Law Firm to schedule a consultation.

Remember that there are no legal fees from the moment you first contact the attorneys until the time you receive your settlement. The firm makes itself available for free consultations.

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Auto Injury Lawyers: Recover Compensation for Economic and Non-Economic Losses

A skilled auto injury lawyer can help car accident victims recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages.

As we all know only too well, car accidents are expensive! After a severe crash, you might have to repair your car and pay for medical treatment. On top of that, bad accidents also leave victims unable to work, which only compounds the problem. Fortunately, Texas’s civil law system exists precisely to compensate victims for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. After a car accident, an auto injury lawyer can help you receive compensation for various economic and non-economic losses.

What kind of economic losses are included?
1. Medical Expenses

At our Law Firm, we sadly see clients every week who have suffered sometimes serious injuries in car accidents, including:

Head injuries
Traumatic brain injuries
Back injuries
Spinal cord injuries
Broken bones
Crushed limbs
Amputations
Remember that even relatively minor injuries, like cuts or sprains, can develop complications if not properly and promptly treated. For example, a cut can quickly get infected, with potentially life-threatening complications. Similarly, invisible injuries such as those to your back might appear at first to be minor but can, unfortunately, lead to lifelong chronic pain conditions.

After an accident, you can receive compensation for medical care to treat your injuries. Our clients have received money for:

Transportation to the hospital
Hospital treatment
Surgery
Doctor’s visits
Rehabilitation
Prescription drugs
Equipment such as wheelchairs, braces, or crutches
These economic losses are relatively easy to calculate. Hold onto all your medical bills and receipts and show them to your auto injury lawyer. And if you need continuing medical care for catastrophic injuries, you can also receive money for that care. For example, someone paralyzed might need an at-home attendant and periodic surgery in the future. The amount of future care is somewhat speculative, but a skilled personal injury lawyer can estimate the costs reasonably.

Many injuries require recovery time at home, and you can receive compensation for missed time at work. To calculate your lost income, show your attorney proof of payment, such as pay stubs, tax returns, W2 forms, or self-employment ledgers.

When serious injuries are severe, you might be unable to return to your old job. For example, someone who worked as a violin teacher will probably have to find a new job if her arm has been amputated. You can receive lost earnings capacity if your new job pays less. Lost future earnings are like future medical care, somewhat speculative.

2. Property Damage

Your vehicle probably suffered damage in the car accident. You can receive compensation to fix or replace the vehicle if it was totaled. Hold onto any repair estimates to document how much compensation is necessary to reimburse you.

What kind of NON-economic losses are included?
1. Pain and Suffering

Not all losses can easily be measured in dollars and cents. Texas car accident victims can also receive compensation for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. Consider the following:

Physical pain
Emotional anguish or distress
Loss of enjoyment of life
Disfigurement
Proving non-economic losses is more complicated than economic ones. For one thing, juries can sometimes be skeptical that you are suffering from pain, so you will need high-quality evidence to convince them otherwise. Depending on the circumstances, your auto injury lawyer might present the following:

Testimony from friends or family about how your injuries have changed you
Your testimony about the pain you feel
Proof of prescription drugs to manage pain or regulate your mood
Testimony from a therapist or mental health counselor
Some of our clients also keep pain journals documenting their pain’s location and intensity daily. They can also detail how their injuries have changed their mood for the worse. A detailed pain journal is robust evidence of your non-economic losses.

Generally, more serious physical injuries will garner more compensation for non-economic losses. For example, someone fully paralyzed will receive more than someone who broke their arm. Nevertheless, no two cases are exactly alike, and your lawyer will analyze all relevant facts to estimate the number of damages you can receive.

2. Loss of Consortium

After a car accident, your spouse might also have a legal compensation claim. He or she can bring a case for “loss of consortium,” which is the legal term for adverse changes to your marriage, such as:

Loss of companionship
Loss of guidance
Loss of moral support
Loss of instruction
Loss of sexual intimacy
The Texas Supreme Court has allowed children to bring a loss of consortium claim when their parents have suffered disabling, serious, and permanent injuries. Children can suffer the loss of love, protection, emotional support, care, and services when a parent is severely injured, and they deserve compensation.

3. Punitive Damages

Compensation for economic and non-economic losses makes you “whole.” However, punitive damages have a different purpose. They are intended to punish a defendant for egregious or dangerous conduct. If you win punitive damages, you get to keep them in addition to your compensatory damages.

Not everyone qualifies to receive punitive damages in a car accident. Texas outlines the circumstances in which you can pursue punitive damages. For car accidents, you might qualify if you have clear and convincing evidence that the driver intentionally harmed you or exhibited a conscious disregard for your safety. Please ask your attorney whether or not you may qualify for punitive damages.

One common situation where you might qualify for punitive damages is if a drunk driver injures you. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated exhibits a lack of regard for other people’s safety, and you can punish them by pursuing punitive damages.

4. Wrongful Death

If a loved one dies in a car accident, some survivors can bring a lawsuit for wrongful death. Texas law specifies that the deceased person’s:

surviving spouse,
children,
and parents
or one or more of those individuals on behalf of them all—are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit in the state’s civil courts

Speak with an Auto Injury Lawyer Today

After a severe car accident, our clients come to us worried about whether they can provide for themselves and their families. At our Law Firm, we have built our reputation fighting for injured victims just like you. Contact us today for a free consultation. We will be happy to explain your options, and remember that there is no cost to you as we handle all cases on contingency.

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