HOUSTON CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS
Today’s automobiles are much safer than the ones which rolled off assembly lines in the 1990s. Nevertheless, even the most advanced safety systems can only absorb so much force. As a result, high-speed wrecks often cause serious injuries, such as head injuries. The medical bills alone could exceed $100,000 in these cases.
Houston has some of the most dangerous roads in the country. 640 people a year die on Houston-area roads, and 2,850 more are seriously injured. This high crash rate is attributed to the significant increase in road traffic in the ever growing city as well as recent highway design which allows drivers to go as fast as 75 mph. Additionally, a high rate of distracted driving and driving while intoxicated contributes significantly to an increase the risk of deadly collisions.
Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metros experienced a 15% decrease in traffic between Jan. 1 and April 15, 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Unfortunately, data from the Texas Department of Transportation shows the number of traffic fatalities has only dropped by 3.35% in the same time period. This means that while traffic is decreasing the rate of deadly vehicular accidents are not decreasing proportionately.
A Houston Chronicle analysis shows that out of the 12 largest metro areas in the U.S., Houston has the worst record for roadway fatalities in terms of deaths per capita from 2001 through 2016.
Since November 7, 2000, there have been at least one traffic fatality every day in Texas.
Many people in Houston have come to see fatal collisions as natural but nothing could be further from the truth. Car accidents are often preventable collisions rather than true “accidents.” Behind these statistics are real lives lost and many families struggling to heal after a horrific event.
When a serious collision could have been prevented we step in. Hiring a lawyer may be a crucial step in recovery after a serious car accident. Auto related accidents may involve multiple insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, and at-fault companies. It is important to have a legal team experienced in these complex legal situations to ensure you get the best possible outcome. Getting just compensation after an accident can be a critical step in paying for medical costs, time lost from work, or long term disabilities that may have occurred because of the accident. We are committed to helping individuals and their families get justice after major vehicular accidents.
HOW A CAR ACCIDENT LAWSUIT WORKS
First, it is entirely free to inquire at Williams Hart. Our experienced team wants to hear your story and to see what can be done for your unique situation. Get a free case evaluation and learn more about your options. There is no obligation to sign up with Williams Hart until you get your questions answered. We want to provide the information you need to make the right choice for your family.
Second, when you sign up with our firm our legal team will begin collecting the necessary information about the case. We will speak to insurance agencies, law enforcement, and other responsible parties to get the necessary documentation.
Third, we will talk with you about our investigation and review your best options for recovery. Each case is unique and we want to help you get the best possible outcome. After our thorough investigation you can get the facts and proceed with the best information and representation.
Unlike many attorneys we aren’t afraid to go to trial if it comes to it. Our lawyers have taken on major corporations and huge insurance companies and won. We know what it takes to see a case through to the end.
Our cases work on a ‘contingency basis’ which means we only get paid if we win you money! We promise you won’t have any out of pocket legal expenses during your case with us.
First Party Liability
Ordinary negligence is a lack of care. Drivers who violate the duty of care and cause crashes might be liable for damages. Negligence per se is a violation of a statute. Tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who violate safety laws and cause crashes might be liable for damages as a matter of law.
Alcohol is a good illustration of the difference between these two concepts. Most people are legally intoxicated after three or four drinks. Even if the tortfeasor “beats” the DWI in criminal court, the negligence per se doctrine usually still applies.
Alcohol impairment begins with the first drink. Circumstantial evidence of impairment includes bloodshot eyes, erratic driving, and unsteady balance. In these ordinary negligence cases, victim/plaintiffs must prove alcohol impairment by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Damages in a Houston car wreck case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.
Third Party Liability
Frequently, the tortfeasor is not the only party who is financially responsible for damages. Vicarious liability is an important concept in wrongful death and other catastrophic injury claims. Texas has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. As a result, many drivers are dangerously underinsured.
Once chain, alcohol is a good illustration. Texas has a dram shop law. Bars, restaurants, grocery stores, and other commercial alcohol providers could be responsible for damages if the patron was:
- A Minor: Generally, providers are liable as a matter of law if they sell alcohol to people under 21. Some traditional defenses, like the “s/he looked older” defense, usually do not hold up in court.
- Obviously Intoxicated: Evidence of obvious intoxication includes some of the aforementioned circumstantial evidence. Since the burden of proof is low in civil cases, a little evidence goes a long way.
Social hosts might also be vicariously liable for alcohol-related crash damages, under a theory like negligent undertaking. If the tortfeasor was an Uber driver, taxi driver, or other commercial operator, the respondeat superior theory usually applies. Employers are liable for the negligent acts their employees commit during the scope of their employment. Texas law defines all these key words and phrases in broad, victim-friendly terms. For example, “employees” are not just workers who receive regular paychecks. The label also applies to owner-operators, independent contractors, and unpaid volunteers.
Finally, owners are financially responsible for damages if they knowingly allow incompetent operators to use their vehicles. Evidence of incompetency includes no valid drivers’ license, a poor driving record, and violation of drivers’ license restrictions (e.g. a person with a learner’s permit driving unsupervised).
Commercial negligent entrustment cases, such as U-Haul wrecks, work a bit differently, because of the Graves Amendment.
Vehicle collisions often cause serious injuries. For a 100% FREE initial consultation with an experienced car crash attorney in Houston, contact Williams Hart today.
WHAT CAUSES VEHICLE COLLISIONS?
Most car crashes are not “accidents.” People accidentally leave the blender on. They do not accidentally drive drunk and cause car wrecks. In fact, driver error causes over 90 percent of the vehicle collisions in Harris County. Frequently, this error involves one of the five kinds of driving impairment, which are:
- Alcohol: Despite a decades-long crackdown against drunk drivers, alcohol still causes about a third of the fatal vehicle collisions in Texas. Alcohol adversely affects judgement ability and motor skills, making it dangerous to drive a car.
- Drugs: Prescription pain pills and marijuana are responsible for most of the drugged driving wrecks in Houston. Other impairing substances include some over-the-counter drugs, like Sominex and Nyquil.
- Fatigue: Much like alcohol, drowsiness affects motor skills and judgement ability. Also much like alcohol impairment, there is no quick fix for fatigue. Shortcuts, like turning up the air conditioner, are largely ineffective.
- Distraction: Hand-held cell phones combine all three types of distraction. Drivers who use them take their hands off the wheel (manual distraction), take their eyes off the road (visual), and take their minds off driving (cognitive). There are many other kinds of distractions.
- Medical Condition: Texans who struggle with epilepsy, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions which could cause a sudden loss of consciousness should not drive. If they black out behind the wheel, the results could be tragic.
Most noncommercial operators have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and avoid crashes when possible. Any one of the impairments listed above makes fulfilling this duty impossible.
OUR COMMITMENT TO HOUSTONIANS
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