Houston Car Accident Attorneys
Over the last 5 years, the Houston area has averaged approximately 45,000 car accidents a year.
With its sprawling suburbs and growing population, congestion on the roads and freeways is likely here to stay. Houston has always been a commuter city in which 9 in 10 citizens drive to work. While road improvements and an increased presence of law enforcement can help curtail the number of traffic accidents, crashes will still occur more often than one would like and many are not just fender benders.
What Happens After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, your mind may be riddled with questions such as: How am I going to pay my bills? Will I be compensated for all of my expenses? Answers can be found at our firm. We can evaluate your case, help you file a claim, and make sure that you don't get cut short of your deserved recompense. After an accident, it is important that you remain at the scene until you can speak with the other party involved if doing so is possible. Collect information such as the name, phone number, license plate number, and insurance information of the other driver. This can eliminate confusion and undue liability. Also take note of the road conditions at the time of the accident, as well as how many people were traveling in each vehicle. When law enforcement officials arrive at the scene, they will be able to compile an accident report as well.
It is important that you closely guard what you say immediately following a collision. Avoid admitting any liability. In some cases, it is best to wait until you have procured the help of an attorney. An attorney can advise you on what to say, when to file, and what information to use so you get the maximum compensation possible. Accidents can leave victims with medical expenses, continued rehabilitation costs, and lost wages due to time taken off of work to recover. Victims may also suffer from emotional injuries such as post traumatic stress disorder. Some of these are areas that insurance companies may not readily compensate you for. This is why it is beneficial to speak with an attorney like the ones at our firm.
Determining Fault in a Houston Motor Vehicle Accident
In accident cases where a negligent party caused the accident, the victim may be eligible for compensation, but it is essential that he or she move quickly. With help from a Houston car accident attorney, you may be able to file their claim and seek compensation, but you must act in a timely manner. There are time limits connected with taking action on these types of accident and injury cases.
What Is the First Step in Pursing Compensation?
First, as an accident victim, you should have your attorney investigate the case to determine who can be held responsible for the accident.
Preliminary questions that you may ask:
- Could the accident have been prevented?
- Was the other driver operating his / her vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
- Was the other driver talking or texting on his / her cell phone?
- Was the other driver driving faster than the posted speed limit, or too fast for weather conditions?
- Was the driver distracted in some way other than those listed above?
If the car accident could have been prevented—for example, if it appeared as if the other driver was distracted in some way—you may be able to successfully file a claim to hold this person accountable for their actions. Our firm can help you understand your rights and options.
What Kind of Lawyer Do I Need?
Filing a claim after a motor vehicle accident will be complex. Your lawyer will have to understand every aspect of the accident and have skills in negotiation and litigation that can be used in your favor. Additionally, your attorney should be able to prepare your case as if it will go to trial, even if it is capable of settling outside of court. If your lawyer is able to prepare the case for any scenario, your results will be better.
Having the ability to litigate in a courtroom is a rare talent.
Many attorneys claim to have courtroom skills without the experience or the track record to back their claims. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, however, it’s not optional: You need to have an attorney on your side who can fight for you in court. This skill is key to a successful settlement. Find a lawyer whose case wins are substantial and who has a thorough understanding of the laws and regulations that impact your case.
What Damages Are Recoverable from Car Accidents?
With all the damages incurred from a car accident, you may be wondering who will be responsible for covering them. Will the at-fault driver or party have to compensate you for these damages? Will you end up paying for your expenses out of your own pocket? While every car accident case will be unique, there are certain types of damages that will typically be covered by the responsible driver.
Damages and expenses related to the following are often covered:
- All types of medical bills, including doctor’s visits, surgical treatment, and so on
- Anticipated or future medical expenses, such as long-term care or future procedures
- General pain and suffering, which can include mental and physical pain
- Mental distress or anguish, such as anxiety, grief, nervousness, and worry
- Lost wages and earning capacity due to the severity of the injury
- Loss of comfort or consortium due to the death of a spouse
- The value of any type of property damage caused in the accident
What Are the Common Causes of Car Crashes?
If there is one thing that can be said about car accidents it's that they are never the same. Each accident will have different extenuating factors and should be handled as such. That being said, there are certain causes that are more prevalent than others. Unfortunately, these causes are almost all preventable through the proper care and caution, and can usually be attributed to driver negligence or reckless driver behavior.
Some of the most common causes of car accidents include the following:
Poor Maintenance of the Vehicle
Cars are delicate machines and should be treated as such. When they are abused and / or neglected, it can lead to harrowing accidents. Not properly monitoring tire pressure, failing to get regular checkups, and the like can all lead to serious accidents.
Aggressive Driving / Road Rage
Driving is not without its emotionally distress. This, however, does not excuse drivers who fail to maintain their control. Aggressive driving can manifest into unsafe driving tactics, such as tailgating, excessive lane changes, and speeding.
When a driver gets behind the wheel while impaired, they do not have the cognitive function to be able to handle the rigors of the road. Drunk driving can cause them to become drowsy, have slowed reaction times and to lose focus.
When the state fails to take care of the highways, it can lead to unsafe driving conditions. Things such as ignored potholes, roads with limited visibility, and the failure to post proper traffic signs can all be contributing factors to serious collisions.
In some cases, a driver can appear to be doing everything right and still be endangering every driver in the area. A driver who is talking on the phone and not paying attention to the road is cognitively distracted. A driver who is adjusting the radio is manually distracted. A driver who is trying to read a map is visually distracted. A driver who is texting while driving is all three.
Defective Equipment / Design Failure
Some accidents can be attributed to the equipment of the vehicle itself, even if the driver did everything right. When tires are not aired properly, brakes give out, or steering locks up, the accident could be a result from the design or manufacturing the vehicle.
On long stretches of road, it is no surprise that some drivers are fatigued. While this is uncomfortable, it is also important to remember that it is dangerous. Tired drivers can nod off and can become serious hazards to those people who are around them.
Protect Yourself & Others
All too often, individuals do not consider the risks of texting, answering the phone, replying to an email, or checking social media while driving. The number one cause of car accidents in the U.S. is distracted driving. Whether a person is using their phone, fiddling with their GPS, eating, drinking, or talking with other passengers while driving, they are risking their life, their passengers' lives, and other drivers' lives.
It is imperative drivers follow the rules of the road—otherwise serious accidents and injuries can occur. Drunk driving is another common cause of car accidents that can easily be prevented. When people drink alcohol, they become impaired—it is as simple as that. Driving drunk not only impairs your judgment, but your reaction time, as well. If your vehicle is poorly maintained or has a default part, you're in danger of either causing or being involved in an accident. It is vital you ensure your car is properly maintained and serviced when necessary to avoid accidents.
Post-Collision Fires in Houston & All of Texas
Car accidents are traumatic enough, but severe ones result in even more damage after the collision has already occurred. Some car accidents turn into huge fires and explosions, known as post-collision fires. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between the years of 1979 and 1986, nearly 228,000 people were maimed and killed by car accident fires. To put this on a yearly scale, this amounts to 29,000 accidents annually. An impact with another vehicle or object can result in serious traumatic injuries, but a post-collision fire can add even greater injury. Many of those who survive post-collision fires live their lives with serious scarring and loss of feeling.
A similar study by the NHTSA indicated that 88% of all accident victims would not have been seriously injured had it not been for the post-collision fire. The type of injury caused by fires (serious burns) are often more severe that injuries such as broken bones or whiplash. Although some instances of car accident fires are inevitable, others may have been caused by fuel system defects. A defective fuel system is an issue of product liability, and results from a fuel tank or hose being improperly manufactured or designed. Flaws such as this can result in avoidable fires.
Fires: Making Investigations Difficult
Unfortunately, these types of accidents are difficult and sometimes near impossible to investigate due to the severe charring. If the accident was caused by a defect in the fuel system, our firm is prepared to investigate other vehicles of that make and model in order to determine if there were defects. Our firm takes investigations very seriously and will begin quickly in order to make sure that no evidence gets ignored.
Investigation should begin immediately o ensure that your attorney is uncovering every source of liability. Burned vehicles, even if they were not completely burned, deteriorate rapidly by way of corrosion. Preserving the evidence is a vital component to the effectiveness of your case. Witness testimony is also crucial when investigating car accident fires. A witness will be able to describe the fire, which could help indicate the cause. Was the fire black? Was it thick smoke? Was there a flashback? Answers to all of these questions are incredibly important to a case.
Living with Burn Injuries
Victims of post-collision fires will likely live with serious scarring, nerve damage, and even loss of limbs. Burn victims often have to relearn how to perform every day activities such as getting dressed and eating. The severity of the lifetime effects will depend upon the degree of the burn. Burn degrees range from first to fourth, with fourth being the most severe. First degree burns are similar to sunburns and typically heal within one week or less, while fourth degree burns can necessitate amputation, since the burn protruded all the way into the subcutaneous tissue.
Why You Need the Assistance of a Houston Car Crash Lawyer
It is important to understand that before you can secure compensation for these damages, you must be able to present a compelling case. Without a strong claim that demonstrates the other driver’s fault, you may miss out on some of the valuable compensation you deserve. In cases where you can prove the other driver acted in a negligent manner, it can help strengthen your case and help you pursue a fair outcome with the help of your car accident attorney. Though it may seem like your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company are on your side, you should always remain hesitant and take everything these companies promise with a grain of salt. Remember, insurance companies look out for their bottom line before anything else and will not care about your situation at the end of the day. That is why you need a legal advocate you can trust to work on your behalf to secure the fair compensation you deserve for the damages you incurred in your crash.
At Arnold & Itkin, we know how damaging car accidents can be; we are committed to ensuring that our clients receive the high-quality representation that they need to protect their legal rights. Should you choose to work with our firm, you can be confident in our ability to be aggressive when need be and still compassionate to your plight.