Auto accidents are a major problem in Texas. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, based upon reportable crashes on Texas roadways:
- 1 person was killed every 2 hours 20 minutes
- 1 person was injured every 1 minutes 59 seconds
- 1 reportable crash occurred every 57 seconds
Many of these collisions result from the carelessness or negligence of drivers, such failing to pay proper attention or driving too fast for the road conditions.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, thousands of people are killed and hundreds of thousands of people are injured each year due to distracted driving. Distracted driving is engaging in any activity that takes your attention away from driving. Examples of distracted driving include the following:
- Talking on or using a cellphone
- Using Radio or Navigation System
- Putting on makeup
- Eating or drinking
- Talking to passengers
In particular, texting while driving is one of the most dangerous acts of distracted driving. It has been reported that texting while driving is about 6 times more likely to cause a collision than driving while intoxicated.
DROWSY OR FATIGUED DRIVING
Many collisions result from drowsy or tired drivers. Drowsy driving or driving while tired leads to thousands of truck, bus and automobile crashes each year. Driver fatigue is believed to contribute to over 30% of crashes on our roadways.
Driving while tired is extremely dangerous and significantly increases the risk of a collision. Driver drowsiness or fatigue decreases awareness and slows reaction times, thereby impairing the driver’s ability to timely and safely respond to potential hazards on the road. Fatigued driving also impairs the driver’s judgment. According to research, not sleeping for more than 18 hours has the same effect on driving ability as a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08, which constitutes being intoxicated in Texas. Not sleeping for 24 hours has the same effect on driving ability as a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.10.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED
Driving while intoxicated is a menace on U.S. highways. The Department of Transportation reports that every day, vehicle accidents involving an impaired driver kill 36 people and injure 700 people. The DOT estimates that the annual cost of U.S. intoxication-related crashes totals more than $51 billion.
A driver may be intoxicated from alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs or a combination of the above.
Drunk drivers are often uninsured, underinsured, or judgment proof—meaning that don’t have the means to pay for the harms and losses they caused. Fortunately, another avenue of recovery for drunk driving injuries exists under the Texas Dram Shop statute (Texas Alcoholic Beverages Code §§2.01—2.03). This law makes sellers and licensed providers of alcoholic beverages liable for injuries caused by the intoxication of persons to whom they provided alcoholic beverages. Alcohol sellers and providers may be liable if they served alcohol to a customer who was obviously intoxicated, and the customer’s intoxication resulted in injuries or death.
Alcohol sellers and providers may also be held responsible for any injuries that result from providing alcohol to minors (persons under age 18). Although non-commercial social hosts generally have little liability in Texas with regard to damages caused by adult guests who become intoxicated, social hosts can be statutorily liable when they supply alcohol to under-age drinkers who then cause injuries (Tex. Alc. Bev. Code § 2.02).
LIABILITY OF OTHERS
In certain cases, factors unrelated to a driver’s conduct can cause a car accident. Under the law of product liability, an automobile manufacturer, supplier, or dealer may be responsible for injuries caused by a defective or unsafe part in the automobile. Also, if a mechanic fails to properly repair a vehicle, and the failure causes an accident, the negligent mechanic and his repair shop may be liable for injuries sustained in the accident.
The law may also impose punitive or exemplary damages against the at-fault driver for malicious or grossly negligent conduct. To be liable for gross negligence, the driver must have disregarded a high risk of causing substantial harm to others. Although excessive speed by itself may not show gross negligence, excessive speed combined with other factors—such as speeding in heavy road congestion, with brakes known to be defective, or on a narrow residential street, or driving while intoxicated may be sufficient to prove gross negligence.
We will investigate every contributing cause of an auto accident to ensure that you receive full compensation for your injuries. We will also deal with the insurance company, so that you can concentrate on your medical treatment and the recovery from your injuries. If necessary, we can also help you find appropriate medical specialists to provide treatment. We may be able to arrange for your medical care providers to wait for payment until your case is resolved.
INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR AUTO ACCIDENTS
Texas law requires motor vehicles to be covered by insurance or other proof of financial responsibility. Effective January 1, 2011, the required minimum amounts of motor vehicle liability insurance coverage required by Tex. Transp. Code §601.072 were raised to:
- $30,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person in one auto accident
- $60,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in one auto accident
- $25,000 for damage to or destruction of property of others in one auto accident
We will investigate all possible insurance coverage. Applicable insurance coverage may include:
Liability Insurance: The liability portion of an insurance policy pays for defending and settling negligence claims made against the insured.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Benefits: Two related types of voluntary coverage are uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits. We will make claims against these types of coverage if you are hurt by a negligent driver who illegally fails to carry liability insurance coverage or has coverage that is inadequate to compensate you for your harms and losses.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage: You can purchase optional automobile insurance that provides coverage if you or your passengers are hurt in an accident, regardless of whose fault caused the auto accident. If you or your passengers are hurt in an auto accident, you could also look to your PIP coverage for the payment of your medical bills, lost wages, and other economic loss caused by your injury.
Collision Coverage: Collision coverage is voluntary coverage that provides for the repair or replacement of your own vehicle after an auto accident, regardless of fault. If your car is damaged in an accident, you must prove negligence against a defendant to recover under the defendant’s property liability insurance coverage. You do not need to prove fault to recover under your own policy’s collision coverage. However, your collision coverage likely requires a deductible.
Determining which insurance coverage should pay for your injuries can be very complicated when several drivers and policies are involved.
COMPENSATION FOR AUTO ACCIDENTS
In Texas, the person at fault for causing an automobile accident is liable for:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses;
- Lost income or wages due to time away from work;
- Any property damage, such as damage to your vehicle;
- The cost of hiring someone to do household chores while you are unable to do them;
- Any permanent disfigurement and disability;
- Emotional distress, including anxiety, depression, and any interference with family relationships;
- Pain and suffering;
- Any other costs that were a direct result of your injury.
Evidence used to prove your automobile injury claim often include:
- The vehicles involved in the accident
- Photographs and video tapes of the accident scene and the vehicles
- Police report
- Investigative reports containing, among other things, measurements and documentation of skid marks and other evidence at the accident scene
- Medical reports documenting injuries
- Testimony of drivers, passengers, witnesses, police and emergency personnel with knowledge of the accident
- Testimony from accident reconstructionists, investigators, engineers, mechanics, and other technical experts regarding the cause, mechanics, and effects of the accident
- Testimony from doctors and other medical caregivers, medical specialists, rehabilitation and occupational therapists, mental health professionals and others experts regarding the cause and extent of physical and mental injuries
Call for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been a victim of an auto accident (whether you were a driver, passenger, or pedestrian), call the Law Offices of Alexander M. Gurevich at (713) 224-9600. Your initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we work on a contingent fee basis. This means you pay for our services only when you receive a monetary award or recovery of funds.