Each year, it seems as though our cars get more advanced and incorporate more safety features. Yet despite these technological breakthroughs, motor vehicle accidents remain a major problem throughout the country — and right here in Texas.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), 256,338 people were hurt in traffic accidents and 3,610 people were killed in 2019 alone. Based on TXDOT data, 1 reportable crash happened in Texas every 56 seconds in 2019. In those accidents, 1 person was injured every 3 minutes, 3 seconds, and 1 person was killed every 2 hours and 26 minutes.
These numbers are shocking, but they represent the reality of the dangers of our roadways. If you have been injured or if a loved one has died in a car accident, you may be entitled to car accident compensation for your losses. While money may not make you whole again, it can help you to move forward after suffering a serious injury.
Since 1971, Forbes & Forbes has represented injury victims who have been hurt in car accidents, truck crashes, motorcycle collisions, bike accidents, and other types of accidents. From our law offices in El Paso, we work hard to help our clients get the money that they need to recover from their serious injuries. We offer free consultations for all prospective clients and handle all personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, so you never pay a fee unless we recover money for you.
Common Causes of Texas Car Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents can happen in any number of ways. Most frequently, these crashes are caused by driver inattention and error. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 94% of crashes can be attributed to something that a driver did — or failed to do.
When another driver causes a car accident, they may be held responsible for the injuries and losses that others suffer as a result. Common causes of car crashes related to driver error include:
- Texting and driving or cell phone use
- Drowsy driving/driver fatigue
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs
- Failure to yield
- Reckless driving
- Driving too fast for conditions
In some cases, other factors contribute to or cause motor vehicle accidents. For example, mechanical issues or defective parts may cause a crash. Poor road maintenance and weather conditions can also play a role in automobile accidents.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident Claim in El Paso, Tx
In order to pursue a lawsuit against another driver after a collision, you must be able to demonstrate that they were somehow responsible for the crash. In Texas, personal injury claims are based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation.
Negligence has four elements:
- Duty: the other driver (defendant) had a duty to use reasonable care in operating their motor vehicle.
- Breach: the defendant violated that duty in some way.
- Causation: that violation was the proximate or but-for cause of the victim’s injuries (i.e., but for the defendant’s careless driving, the victim would not have been hurt in a crash).
- Damages: the victim (plaintiff) suffered losses.
If a car accident victim can prove these four elements, they will be able to recover financial compensation for their losses.
In many cases, the fault is clear-cut, such as a situation where a person who was texting and driving slammed into another vehicle. If more than one driver was to blame for the accident, the injury victim can often still recover for their losses under the theory of proportionate responsibility. As long as the victim was 50% or less to blame for an accident, they can still seek compensation for their losses.
With proportionate responsibility, the judge or jury assigns fault for an accident and the victim’s total recovery will be reduced by the percentage that they were at fault. For example, if a victim was 30% responsible for a crash where they suffered $100,000 in damages, they can still recover money for their losses. Their award will be reduced by 30%, or $30,000, to $70,000.
While other drivers are often to blame for a car accident, there may be situations where another party was negligent in some way. This may include a manufacturer, retailer, or distributor of a dangerous or defective product (under a products liability theory), or even a government agency if poor road conditions caused an accident. An experienced car accident attorney will thoroughly investigate your case to ensure that all potentially responsible parties are held responsible.
In some situations, the other driver is either uninsured or lacks sufficient insurance to cover the full extent of your losses. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), you can make a claim against your own insurance policy for compensation. An auto accident attorney can help you with this process.
Damages in a personal injury case may include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. Economic damages are meant to compensate a victim for their financial losses, such as medical bills, future medical care, lost wages, property damage, and reduced earning capacity. Non-economic damages cover intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, disfigurement, and scarring, and emotional distress.
Punitive damages are rarely available in personal injury cases because they are meant to punish a wrongdoer who engaged in reckless or intentional conduct. However, there may be some situations where punitive damages are warranted in a car accident case, such as if a habitual drunk driver caused an accident where others were injured. A skilled El Paso car accident lawyer can help you determine whether you may be able to seek punitive damages against the at-fault driver.
How a Personal Injury Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
After a fatal car accident, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. You may be dealing with significant pain, increasing medical expenses, and financial instability if you cannot work. Insurance companies may try to take advantage of your vulnerability by asking you to agree to a settlement during this time.
While it may be tempting to accept an offer from an insurance adjuster, it will often result in a far lower recovery than you would get if you worked with a lawyer. A study from the Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that people who are represented by an attorney receive settlements that are 3.5 times larger than people who represent themselves.
Most Texas personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations, where you can get legal advice about your rights and options for pursuing a claim. If you decide to hire the law firm, they will begin with an investigation into your case. This may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing police reports and other evidence, and even working with an accident reconstruction expert.
At the same time, your lawyer will research Texas law on accidents that are similar to yours. They will analyze your medical records and reports from medical experts to determine the full extent of your losses. Based on this information and their own experience, they will draft a demand for damages to the insurance company.
Most personal injury claims are resolved through negotiation, without going to trial. Working with a personal injury attorney who has significant trial experience can often work in your favor, as insurers are more likely to offer a fair settlement if they believe that your lawyer is ready, willing, and able to take your case to trial. If the insurance company won’t give you a fair settlement, your attorney will prove your case in court to get you the compensation that you deserve for your losses.
Hurt in a Texas Car Accident? We’re Here to Help.
Motor vehicle collisions can lead to a range of serious or even catastrophic injuries. If you have been hurt in a car accident, we can help. We will take on the insurance company for you so that you can focus on what is truly better: your health and your family.
With more than 75 years of combined experience, the legal team at Forbes & Forbes understands the law — and how to get results for our clients. We’ll get you the compensation that you deserve for your car accident injuries, and stand by your side throughout the process. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation, contact our law firm today at 877-585-3827 or email us at any time.