Car accidents happen fast. In some cases, they happen too quickly for the drivers involved to react. When the dust settles, those involved begin to take stock of their injuries. Some will walk away with a few scrapes and bruises. For others, a car accident will lead to a lifetime of pain, physical therapy, and medical treatments.
Most car accidents aren’t really accidents at all; they are crashes or wrecks that occur because someone in a driver’s seat was behaving recklessly. Texting while driving, speeding, and drunk driving are just a few of the common driving behaviors that contribute to injurious and deadly crashes.
If you or a loved one suffers an injury in a car accident, you may have grounds for a claim against the driver responsible. At Ross • Scalise Employment Lawyers, our Austin car accident lawyers are experienced in automobile cases involving all vehicle types, situations, and injuries. You don’t have to sit back and live with the consequences of someone else’s negligence.
The Elements of a Car Accident Case
Not all car accident cases go to trial. In many cases, a skilled Austin personal injury lawyer can successfully negotiate with the opposing party to secure a fair settlement. Regardless of how far you pursue a case, certain elements will play a role in every car accident case, including liability, negligence, and comparative fault.
As in other personal injury cases, liability plays a key role in pursuing a car accident claim. Defense attorneys commonly advise all drivers to avoid accepting fault for an accident because of this key element. On the surface, accidents may seem to include only the negligent actions of the drivers involved. Certain situations may introduce the role of third-party defendants in lieu of or in addition to drivers. These defendants may include:
- A driver’s employer. If an employee drives a truck or travels as part of routine business, the employer may bear some responsibility for any resulting accidents and injuries. In the case of a taxi cab accident, for instance, an injured individual may pursue action against the driver and/or the cab company.
- A vehicle parts manufacturer. Some accidents happen as a result of a defective auto part, improper installation, or poor vehicle design. If this happens, your accident attorney may advise pursuing a product liability case against the parts manufacturer.
- Construction companies. Road construction crews are occasionally at fault in accident cases when they fail to address roadside hazards properly.
An experienced Austin car accident lawyer will look at every aspect of a motor vehicle accident to determine a plaintiff has the opportunity to seek maximum compensation. Determining liability will set the stage for the rest of an accident case.
Negligence is a factor in most car accident cases and is the standard for proving the majority of personal injury cases. In civil cases, the plaintiff carries the burden of proof. He or she must demonstrate that:
- The defendant had a duty to use reasonable caution on the roadways.
- The defendant failed to meet that duty (i.e. he or she was engaged in a negligent activity).
- The negligent activity contributed to an injurious car accident.
- The plaintiff suffered an injury as a proximal result of the negligent behavior.
In the state of Texas, the courts use a modified comparative fault rule to determine fault in a car accident. Any driver who suffers an injury can make a claim against another party, but the amount of fault assigned to each driver may reduce total damages awarded. This rule may come into play in your car accident case, even if you settle out of court.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Texas
While car accidents can occur because of one negligent activity, they are often the result of a mixture of reckless behaviors. Some of the most commonly cited negligent driving activities in Texas include:
- Driving distracted. Texting, eating, talking on the phone, fiddling with a GPS system, or any other activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the task at hand is considered a potentially harmful distraction.
- Ignoring the rules of the road. Speeding, failing to stop at intersections and stop signs, and changing lanes quickly or unsafely are all examples of ignoring driving laws.
- Driving while intoxicated. Some of the most serious accidents occur when a driver chooses to get behind the wheel after drinking or doing drugs.
- Failing to use caution in hazardous conditions. Rain, ice, and other weather conditions can quickly change the way a vehicle handles on the roadways. Slick oil patches and black ice are particularly dangerous. Accidents often occur when drivers fail to adjust their driving behaviors in bad weather.
While many negligent driving activities are illegal, a driver does not have to be engaged in an illegal activity to face a claim for causing a wreck. Any activity that a reasonable person would not engage in under the circumstances could be grounds for a car accident case.
Types of Dangerous Driving
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injury in the country, and as seen by our Austin car accident attorneys, there are certain driving habits that greatly contribute to accidents. Every motorist has a responsibility to operate his or her vehicle safely, follow the rules of the road, and make good decisions while driving. When they don’t, they endanger themselves and everyone else on the road.
Some drivers may become frustrated by other motorists and vent their anger by driving aggressively or at excessive speeds. Others are impatient, and run stop signs or red lights. Still, others are driving while distracted and make poor decisions because they are not paying close enough attention to the road. When a driver causes an injury to someone else by driving unsafely, he or she needs to be held accountable for their actions, and the victims deserve to be compensated for their losses and injuries.
There are several ways a driver can endanger others on the road, and this list is by no means exhaustive, but here are a few most common examples of dangerous driving:
- Speed limits exist to keep traffic moving at a reasonable and safe rate. They are adjusted for road conditions, such as curves, lane merges, and entrance and exit ramps on the highway. By disregarding the speed limit, a driver puts him or herself at risk, along with everyone in the vicinity. It’s also much more difficult to react to dangerous or changing road conditions at higher speeds. Speeding contributes to 29% of all fatal crashes.
- Blind spots. Every vehicle has blind spots, meaning that it’s not possible to see other vehicles near your own. It’s imperative that drivers make sure their destination lane is clear before changing lanes and always use their blinkers to signal when they intend to change lanes.
- Some drivers tailgate. This is extremely unsafe and can easily result in a rear-end collision. A good rule of thumb is to keep two car lengths between your vehicle and the one in front of you, and adjust for speed and road conditions, keeping more distance at higher speeds and during inclement weather.
- Dangerous turns. It’s always a good idea to check that the way is clear before making turns. Sometimes, traffic in the opposite direction will not stop or will simply run through an intersection. This can result in “T-bone” accidents – when a vehicle strikes another in the side mid-turn.
- Running reds. Some drivers will disregard stop signs or red lights. Some intersections only have stop signs for one direction, and by assuming the other direction has to stop, you’re endangering yourself and the other driver. Always check for “Opposing traffic does not stop” indications on stop signs at intersections. Many drivers try to beat red lights by accelerating when they see a traffic light turn yellow. It’s always better to slow down and wait for the next green light rather than speeding through an intersection.
When drivers don’t operate their vehicles safely, they put themselves and everyone around them at risk. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and never try to retaliate against aggressive drivers. If you’ve been injured by someone else’s reckless driving on the road, you shouldn’t be left to pay for your injuries and damages on your own.
Insurance and Car Accidents
Insurance companies play a major role in car accidents. In fact, attorneys spend a significant portion of their time negotiating with and pursuing claims against insurance companies that fail to offer fair settlements to those who are covered under accident insurance. You may need help with insurance if:
- You have underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage but your insurance provider continues to reject your claim.
- An insurer continues to delay your claim to forestall paying out the terms of the policy.
- The other driver’s insurance company wants to settle your claim without providing you with the compensation you need to recover.
- The insurer responsible for the claim doesn’t want to pay for necessary medical treatments for the injuries that you sustained during an accident.
Insurance is often half the battle in car accident cases, and choosing an Austin car accident lawyer who understands all aspects of your case may improve your chances to obtain a reasonable settlement.
How Your Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Experienced car accident attorneys understand the local laws that govern driving behaviors and have the resources needed to investigate and reconstruct an accident after the fact. You may hire your attorney to pursue a relentless case against those responsible for serious and catastrophic injuries, but a well-qualified attorney will offer so much more. Your attorney can help you by:
- Representing you with insurance companies.
- Providing advice about employment paperwork you and your family need to fill out during recovery.
- Pursuing a case to cover the cost of present and future medical treatment, lost wages, lost income earning potential, and the loss of quality of life.
- Help you find the medical treatment you need to recover.
The right car accident attorney is someone who is knowledgeable yet compassionate and is constantly accessible. At Ross • Scalise Employment Lawyers, our Austin car accident attorneys are with clients at every step of a case, assisting with gaining access to all the resources they need to heal.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Austin, TX
If you are involved in a car accident, you can take a few steps to strengthen any claim that you may make later. Never assume an accident is harmless. Some injuries take days or weeks to fully manifest. One of the best ways you can protect yourself is by taking a proactive approach to any car accident:
- Seek medical attention, and help others on the scene if you are able to do so.
- Never accept blame or try to surmise what happened until after an investigation. In the immediate aftermath, you may not clearly remember the events as they occurred.
- Notify your insurance provider but wait to provide details until after an investigation.
- Take pictures of your vehicle, any visible injuries, and the environment surrounding the accident if possible.
- Unless you are taken to the hospital for emergency treatment, stay at the site of the accident until the police and other drivers involved leave.
- Obtain as much information as possible. Ask for witness contact information, record police information, and keep all medical records associated with the accident.
Accident cases may hinge on seemingly minor details, and recording evidence could help you prove a case to your insurer or if you file a legal claim. If you can’t take certain actions due to your injuries, don’t worry. Your attorney will do everything in his or her power to collect the necessary evidence to pursue your claim.
Do speak with a lawyer as soon after an accident as you can. An attorney can help you determine if you have a case and start working quickly to preserve the evidence and your rights as an injury victim.
Types of Car Accident Cases We Handle
As your local Austin law firm, Ross • Scalise Employment Lawyers is prepared to help you with car accidents of all kinds. We represent injured private and commercial drivers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists who suffer serious injuries in vehicle-related accidents. We also represent those involved in single-vehicle crashes, such as rollovers that may result in a claim against a vehicle manufacturer.
The individuals we represent must often learn how to live with life-altering debilitation, disfigurement, or emotional trauma. Brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, burn injuries, and broken bones are just a few of the injuries we see in serious car accidents.
Wrongful Death and Car Accidents
Sadly, many car accidents result in fatalities. The families of drivers and passengers who die deserve justice after such a tragic situation. In these cases, a family member or representative may choose to file a wrongful death claim against the person or people who contributed to their loved one’s death. Our firm handles wrongful death claims arising from car accidents as well as other forms of accidents.
Consult a Skilled Austin Car Accident Lawyer Today
The aftermath of a serious car accident can be overwhelming. Many injured people face a long recovery along with financial obligations and insurance paperwork. Those who must spend time away from work may also suffer from a loss of income. Your attorney will play a key role in working to help you receive the compensation you need to start healing, both mentally and physically.
At Ross • Scalise Employment Lawyers, we offer compassionate support, a deep knowledge of car accident cases, and the high level of competency you want to see in a trial-ready team of attorneys. For more information about how we can help you after a serious car accident, contact us today by calling us or by filling out our online consultation form.
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