Nobody wants to get into a car accident, but it is a possibility for even the best of drivers. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) states that, in 2020, there were 12,107 serious injury crashes in Texas.
One person was injured in a Texas car accident every two minutes and 34 seconds. With odds like that, you must know what to do if you are involved in a car accident.
Fortunately, Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP has created this guide to walk you through the steps you need to take if you are ever involved in an accident. In this guide, we will go over:
- The most common causes for a car accident;
- What to do after a Texas car accident;
- How to file a personal injury claim in Texas; and
- What to look for in a Texas car accident lawyer.
Our sincere hope is that this guide will help make a difficult time in your life a little easier.
The Most Common Causes for Car Accidents
The best offense is a good defense, and the best way to stay out of a car accident in Texas is practicing defensive driving.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) collects facts and statistics relating to car accidents throughout the United States. According to the III, the five most common reasons for car accidents (based on 2019 statistics) were:
- Driving too Fast;
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol;
- Failure to Yield Right of Way;
- Failure to Keep a Proper Lane; and
- Operating a Vehicle in a Careless Manner.
Now, let’s go over each of these issues and what you can do to prevent them.
Driving Too Fast
Are you running late? Feel the need to speed to your destination? Whatever the reason, speeding is not worth the risk. Instead, you can improve your odds of staying out of a car accident simply by driving the speed limit and refusing to race or outpace other vehicles.
Driving at a safe speed is not just safer, but it will also help keep you from getting a costly ticket.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
Driving under the influence puts your life and the lives of everyone else on the road in danger. Even if you think you are okay to drive after a couple of drinks, there is a good chance that you are not fit to drive by legal standards.
And if you get stopped, your life will take a dreadful turn as you are forced to deal with the unhappy consequences of thinking you were fine to drive when, in fact, you were not.
Not only will you likely face a lengthy probationary sentence, but you will also have your license suspended and have to pay plenty of fines, probationary fees, and court costs.
Lastly, driving under the influence can carry serious jail time, especially if someone is hurt or killed in a resultant accident.
But there is good news! Thanks to popular ride-sharing apps, it is easier than ever to get a ride home after a night out on the town.
By using these services, you can still have fun while saving yourself an extraordinary amount of hardship, money, and heartache.
Failure to Yield Right of Way
Too many drivers fail to yield the right of way, whether rolling through stop signs or blowing through red and yellow lights. When approaching a stop sign or a red light, always be sure to come to a complete stop.
For yellow lights, slow down and prepare to stop. Following these simple rules could save your life.
Failure to Keep a Proper Lane
There are two significant ways you could cause an accident, by changing lanes and crashing into someone else. One is by not checking your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes. The other way is by driving while distracted.
You can remedy the first problem by properly adjusting your mirrors before driving and always checking your mirrors and blind spots when changing lanes. You should also try to minimize distractions while driving.
For example, don’t search around for something you think you need when your eyes need to be on the road. If you need something that bad, then pull off to a safe area and retrieve it.
Just as importantly, keep your cell phone away from you while driving. That text can wait.
Operating a Vehicle in a Careless Manner
Whether it is weaving through traffic, tailgating, or cutting off other drivers, aggressive and careless driving is dangerous. No matter how skilled you may be, it takes just a fraction of a second for an accident to happen. If you are driving too close to other vehicles or driving erratically, you may not have adequate time to react. Giving other drivers sufficient space and driving predictably will make the road safer and help prevent issues like road rage.
What to Do After a Car Accident
After a car accident in Texas, the first thing you should do is STOP! Leaving the scene could land you in big trouble. Instead, come to a stop in a safe area and turn on your hazard lights. Next, you should call for help and check on the other people involved in the crash.
Talk to the other parties and witnesses and collect their information. For other drivers, make sure you get the insurance information as well. You should also document the accident by taking pictures from multiple angles.
Let a police officer or first responder know if you think you are hurt. Finally, you will want to notify your insurance company of the accident. You may also want to consider speaking with a Texas car accident attorney, especially if you are injured.
How to File a Personal Injury Claim in Texas
If you are hurt in a car accident, you may have the standing to file a personal injury claim. Texas car accident personal injury claims rely on the negligence doctrine. To succeed in a claim against another driver in Texas, you will need to show that:
- There was a duty of care;
- The other driver breached their duty of care; and
- That breach of care caused you to become injured.
If that sounds confusing, there is no need to worry. Remember the causes of car accidents we discussed earlier? Texas drivers have a duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner.
A driver who engages in one of the above behaviors has likely breached their duty of care to others. However, if you also drove in an unsafe manner, you may also be negligent, and this can complicate your claim. Either way, a Texas car accident lawyer may be able to help.
An attorney can help evaluate your claim and deal with your insurance company. If the attorney feels you have a good claim, they may file a lawsuit. You will need to show damages if filing a personal injury claim.
In a Texas car accident case, damages may include:
- Economic damages such as medical bills, property damage, and other easily quantifiable damages;
- Exemplary damages such as pain & suffering, physical impairment, and mental anguish; and
- Punitive damages, which are extra damages that are possible in situations where a party acted extremely recklessly or wrongfully.
Many Texas car accident lawyers work on contingency, meaning you may not have to pay anything to file the suit. Instead, you may only have to pay the attorney a portion of the settlement or judgment if and when you prevail.
What to Look for in a Texas Car Accident Lawyer
If you get into a car accident in Texas, it’s crucial that you hire the right lawyer. Not all lawyers in Texas practice personal injury law, and even if a firm practices within the broad category of personal injury—they may not have a lot of experience with car accidents.
When looking for Texas car accident lawyers, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
The first question you should ask a potential attorney is about their experience with Texas car accidents. Do not be afraid to ask the attorney how often they handle car accident claims. If the lawyer has only seen a handful of Texas car accident cases, you may want to continue searching.
On top of having the right experience, you may want to verify that your lawyer has a good reputation. Does the lawyer have any awards or accolades? If so, they should be posted on their website. What were some of their biggest wins?
Finally, you may also want to check and see if there have been any disciplinary actions against the lawyer or a pattern of bad reviews. Keep in mind that some bad reviews could also come from the people the lawyer defeated!
As we discussed, many Texas car accident lawyers do not charge hourly to represent you in a personal injury claim. Those who do charge by the hour could end up costing thousands of dollars with no guarantee of winning.
Instead, you should consider hiring an attorney who works on contingency. This means the attorney charges you nothing upfront but gets a set percentage of your award amount after they have won your case.
Not only does this keep your upfront costs low, but it also incentivizes your attorney to get the best deal they can for you.
Contact a Texas Car Accident Lawyer Today
We want you to drive safe and stay accident-free. However, that is not always what life has in store for us. If you are involved in a car accident in Texas, we will be there for you. Our hardworking team of Texas car accident lawyers has the experience and skills to fight for you.
If you have been hurt, you deserve to be compensated fairly for your injuries. We want to stand beside you and help you through this difficult time, so contact us today for your free consultation. Contact the experienced attorneys at Armstrong Lee & Baker LLP, for help today.