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A motor vehicle accident is one of the most common causes of death in Houston and the United States. Several factors and legal issues arise from a car accident, making it imperative to understand the law’s different aspects and positions. Our Houston car accident lawyers at Calhoun, Meredith, and Sims, PLLC are a resource all plaintiffs need.

What Are the Types of Car Accidents in Houston, Texas? 

A traffic collision occurs when private or commercial vehicles collide with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, and other stationary debris. It can be a tree, pole, building, fence, or mailbox. The impacts result in long-term consequences and fatalities.

In Texas, motor vehicle accidents occur daily as no one can control others' actions. Auto accident attorneys help navigate the legal process. Below, we highlight the most common types of car accidents in Houston city limits..

Rear-End Car Accident Lawyers in Houston

Rear-end collisions account for many crashes in Houston and the United States. A rear-end accident happens when one car hits another in front of it from the rear. It is usually the result of drunk drivers going behind the wheel, speeds, and distracted driving..

Most times, it occurs in heavy, slow traffic. Rear-end car accident often result in severe injuries for the survivors. Rear-end accident situations call for a Houston accident lawyer's expertise.

Single-Vehicle Accidents

This type of crash involves one car and a driver. It mostly occurs when a negligent party goes off the road and strikes a stationary object. Bad weather, the sudden appearance of an animal on the roadway, and mechanical defects also cause this accident type. Although it involves only one driver, it can sustain extensive personal injuries. Most drunk driving accidents involve a single driver.

single vehicle accident

Head-On Collisions

A head-on collision is one of the most common types of accidents. It occurs when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide with their front. Often, it happens at intersections when drivers fail to yield or when a driver crosses the center lane into another.

Most victims of head-on collisions suffer severe or fatal injuries. In either case, the victim or their legal representatives can bring a claim against the at-fault driver. A Houston experienced car accident attorney will get you fair compensation..

Side-Impact Collisions

Another name for the common car accident is a T-bone collision. “T” because a car drives into the side of another vehicle, forming the letter. The most common scenarios of side-impact crashes are improper lane change, failure to yield correctly, and texting. It results in auto accident injuries.

Sideswipe Accidents

Sideswipe crashes happen when drivers scrape the side of another vehicle. It is the direct result of unsafe lane changes on the roadway and merging too quickly. They can be fatal if the impact causes the struck car to hit other vehicles. When the preceding doesn’t happen, the crash might only result in injuries. It would be helpful to contact personal injury attorneys after this.

Houston Rollover Accident Lawyer

Surviving a rollover accident is somewhat of a miracle because of its destructive nature. It occurs when a vehicle tips or gets knocked over by another speeding car. The impact is usually so severe that the struck automobile can’t withstand it and remains in motion. 

Often, victims of rollover accidents get ejected by the collision force. Rollovers impact mostly SUVs, but cars, trucks, and vans are also easy targets. Families of the victims can contact a rollover accident lawyer after a collision of this nature. 

Multiple-Vehicle Collisions

A multiple-vehicle collision is otherwise known as a chain-reaction crash. It happens when one car strikes another, and that one goes on to hit others. It usually involves three or more drivers and has fatal consequences.

Multiple-vehicle collisions happen mostly on roadways. They result from speeding, reckless and distracted drivers, and sometimes medical negligence. Drinking alcohol and stress can contribute. It is hard to determine responsibility in cases like this. Thus, it’s best to avoid taking the blame in case of accident lawsuits.

What Causes Car Accidents? 

Motor vehicle crashes do not happen on their own. They are the result of a person’s negligence, and at other times, external factors contribute to them. Some of the common causes are: 

  • Drunk driving
  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Tailgating
  • Roadrage
  • Distracted driving from using cell phones
  • Defective vehicles
  • Running red lights
  • Disobeying traffic signals
  • Speeding
  • Wrong-way driving
  • Road conditions and hazards

What Are the Types of Injuries Sustained in a Car Accident in Houston?

Whether you’re in Texas or another U.S. state, traffic incidents are minor or significant. It is bound to result in common injuries. While some are visible immediately after the crash, others might take a while to appear.

Thus, a car operator must seek medical treatment at the crash site or after leaving the crash scene. Medical records are also massive players in getting you a car accident settlement. Speak to a Houston auto accident lawyer about possible payments.

The standard car accident injuries include the following: 

Whiplash: It is a soft tissue injury that affects the muscle, joints, ligaments, and tendons. It often happens around the neck, and the effect does not appear immediately. Depending on the severity and the individual, whiplash might take days to manifest. The trauma stresses the muscles and can be very painful. While whiplash injuries don't endanger lives healing takes days, a week, or months.

car wreck houston

Scrapes and Cuts: Although it is mostly associated with minor vehicle crashes, bruises and cuts can occur from significant collisions. The crash impact and broken glass or flying objects inside your vehicle can cause this injury. They can be painful and poses infection risks if not treated immediately by a physician.

Head Injuries: Airbags don't always prevent Traumatic brain injuries (TBI). It can be a concussion (severe or mild), intracranial bleeding, or hemorrhage. If not detected immediately, traumatic injuries have long-term consequences and result in disabilities. A brain injury can affect a person’s life quality, thus, get an evaluation immediately. You can file personal injury lawsuits with your medical records to get the money you need for treatment. Also, contact your health insurance company.

Broken Ribs: The ribs are exceptionally delicate, and a light or moderate impact on the body can cause them to break. Crash impacts break ribs depending on the body's position. It is quite painful, and you’ll need long periods of rest. You can ask for a settlement from the at-fault driver during this time. Accident lawyers will help to the best of their ability.

Broken Bones: Beyond the ribs, you can break some other bones in your body. Broken arms, hands, legs, or hips are familiar in car accidents in Houston and other parts of Texas.. If the crash impact is more than what the body can withstand, it will result in this injury. When a bone damages beyond repair, it results in an amputation, reducing the victim’s life quality. Broken bones are typical in side-impact and rear-end collisions. 

Internal Bleeding: Internal bleeding is often referred to as a silent killer for good reasons. It happens inside the body, away from prying eyes, and most people think they are fine until they aren’t. This is why you must seek medical help at the first opportunity. The sooner doctors access the bleeding source, the faster they can get you the help you need. 

Herniated Disc: Just as you can easily break a rib or a bone while in motion, you can suffer from a herniated disc. It happens when one or more vertebrae in the spine rupture or shift out of place. It can cause pain and complications, so get a doctor to attend to it immediately.

Knee Trauma: The sudden nature of auto collisions can cause your knees to strike the dashboard. The impact can shatter your knee or ligament, and you might need braces or crutches to support it while you heal. In more severe cases, you might undergo surgery to fix it, increasing your medical fees. Thus, engage a Texas accident lawyer to help you recover damages. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Most people ignore this as an accident injury, but PTSD is as real as broken bones or fractures. The mental and emotional trauma suffered from traffic accidents can remain for a long time if not treated. It would be best to seek professional help with your anxiety after an accident. You can claim punitive damages for this.

What To Do Immediately After a Car Accident? 

When you get involved in a motor vehicle crash, the first order of business is to stay calm and keep a clear head. It will help with your claim against your insurance company and in a personal injury lawsuit should you go to court. 

Take the following steps after an accident: 

  • Check yourself to see if you suffered an injury, and then check anyone with you in the car or the other vehicle. 
  • Whether or not there was an injury, make a call to 911, report the accident, and give details of the location.
  • If there was an injury on anyone other than yourself, examine them to see the extent of their wound. Provide first aid if you wait for the first responders.
  • Move yourself and the injured person to the side of the road or a sidewalk for safety. Put out a hazard light on the street to warn other motorists of the presence of your car. 
  • Once the first responders arrive, let the medics examine you even if you feel fine.
  • Give the right answers to the police's questions and stay at the accident scene until they clear you.
  • Contact accident lawyers

If the accident is a non-injury crash and involves personal property, the following are the requirements:

  • Look for the owner of the vehicle.
  • Exchange contact, insurance, and driver’s license information with the other driver.
  • If the driver is unavailable, leave the information in a conspicuous place. 
  • File a police report after leaving the scene.

How To Determine Fault in Car Accidents in Houston?

When filing a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death claim, it is vital to find the responsible parties. In Houston, those with the responsibility in an automobile collision can recover damages depending on the case’s circumstances.

Like the rest of Texas, Houston operates the comparative negligence rule in fault determination. Comparative means that more than one person made a mistake. During the trial, the court assigns a degree of negligence that falls to fault parties.

A driver who has less than 50 percent of the crash liability will receive compensation from the person whose negligence is 51 percent and above. The money you’ll receive as one of the fault parties will reduce. It means that you will get less than the amount you would have been entitled to if you had no blame. 

For example, if you suffered a $10 000 loss, you will lose 10 percent of the amount and get only $9000. The police department or County Sheriff has the duty to determine rights in a car accident. The insurance adjuster also plays vital roles. 

How Does Police Determine Fault in Car Accident?

The police are usually part of the first responders to a crash site. They typically arrive first to carry out an accident investigation. The responding police officer will study photos, the cars’ position, and their tire tread mark to find the at-fault driver. 

Next, the officers will talk to the drivers involved, if coherent, and collect witnesses' statements. If there is a security video of the area, the police will look through it. If none of this works, an accident reconstruction team will remake the events leading to the crash. All these happen before the police clear the scene, and allow traffic to resume. 

The law requires the police to file an accident report of their findings. In the report, the investigating officer(s) names the party responsible. They will also indicate to what degree the victim contributed if they did. A police report is vital to accident claims.

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Fault?

An insurance company’s role in fault determination comes into play when you file a compensatory claim. Once your insurer receives the request, they will hand it over to an insurance adjuster to review the evidence. Adjusters carry out independent investigations distinct from that of the police. 

Although adjusters rely on the police report, they will go through the evidence with a fine tooth-comb. They‘ll look into your driving history, gather witness statements, and look at medical reports. The reports help them determine the extent of your injuries and when you received treatment.

The adjuster will look at the vehicle to see the damage’s extent. It is wise to leave your car unrepaired until the insurance company rep inspects it. After all these, the adjuster will determine your rights and the defendant’s liability.

The decision determines if you’ll get compensated and the insurance company’s offer. Your insurer might offer you an insignificant amount. So, consult a car Houston experienced attorney for your legal claims..

automobile accident texas

How Do Courts Determine Fault?

The court is usually the final stop on your injury claim train. Car accident cases only get to litigation when the parties to an accident fail to reach an agreement. You will also go to court if you fail to settle with your insurance company. 

Once your case goes before a judge, they will look at the police and the insurance company’s evidence. Another step in determining fault in court is listening to both parties’ arguments. Note that the investigating authorities' report does not define a personal injury trial outcome. 

The court will determine your legal claims on a preponderance of the evidence. Another key player is precedent from similar cases in the jurisdiction. Once the jury gives its judgment, it binds both parties. However, if you did not achieve your goal, your Houston accident lawyer will advise you to appeal to a higher court. 

Who Pays for Car Accident Compensation in Texas? 

Car wrecks change the lives of those involved in an instant. It leaves them with minor, severe, or significant injuries. Getting treated for the latter often leads to substantial medical costs. It is worse when the victim dies despite the best medical care. 

Thus, crash victims, their representatives, or legal estate often file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, depending on the circumstances. With the civil action, victims hope to get payments from the at-fault driver to the tune of the loss they suffered. 

While no amount of money can compensate for a lost limb or life, the law makes provisions to ensure a victim gets enough to move on. The question then becomes, who pays for your car accident compensation? Is it the at-fault driver, their insurance company, or yours? Both parties' insurance policies also matter.

Texas “Fault Insurance” System

Every state in the U.S. has its unique insurance system for compensating car accident victims. Texas is a “Fault” state when it comes to auto insurance. It means that when you sustain an injury in an auto collision, the at-fault driver will pay you a compensatory sum. 

To get compensation in Texas, you can: 

  • File a first-party claim with your insurance company
  • File a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
  • File a lawsuit against the at-fault driver

A Houston personal injury attorney can help you choose the best option for the quickest result. 

Filing the First-Party Claim With Your Insurance Company

Texas law requires drivers to carry the minimum amount of liability coverage for injuries and property damage in auto collisions. The policy limits in the state are:

  • $30 000 for each injured persons
  • $60 000 for all injured persons
  • $25 000 for property damage

If you chose not to go for any of these, there are other coverages you can buy. You can get personal injury protection (PIP), which covers your medical expenses and a percentage of the lost wages. The preceding coverage accounts for the period you are unable to work. Another is collision damage; it pays for the wreckage to your car. 

Filing a Third-Party Claim with the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company

If you have no blame for the accident, you can bring a third-party claim against the at-fault driver using their insurance company. It means that rather than getting paid by your insurance carrier, that of the negligent motorist will handle it. 

In cases like this, the at-fault’s driver will make you a claim less than what you are entitled to. People who want instant gratification take the offered sum to regret it when it barely covers their losses. Accident lawyers help you with the aftermath of bad decisions.

Filing a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Driver

Settlement procedures entail minutes and hours of negotiation, and when the parties can’t agree, they resort to litigation. When this happens, contact an auto accident attorney to help you begin the claims process in a court of competent jurisdiction. If the court finds in your favor, they will order the at-fault driver to pay you a specific sum. 

car smashed after accident

What Happens if the At-Fault Driver is Uninsured or Underinsured?

An uninsured driver is someone without active insurance policies. Uninsured motorist coverage protects the victim when a negligent driver lacks coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage is one with insurance coverage, but the limit is not high enough to cover the loss you suffered.

After getting the amount an underinsured coverage pays you, you can file a lawsuit to recover the rest from the at-fault driver. Do this under the guidance and help of a Houston auto accident lawyer. 

What Are the Type of Damages in a Car Accident Claim in Houston, Texas?

When accidents happen because of another person’s negligence, the victim can recover damages for the injury suffered. The compensation entitled to the victim depends on the severity of the wound, the recovery process, and vehicle wreckage. An accident lawyer in Houston, Texas, can help you determine the type of compensation to ask for.

Generally, there are three types of damages in a car accident. They are:

  • Economic damages awarded to cover money expended or lost due to the accident
  • Non-economic damages awarded for things that are immeasurable with money like pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages awarded where there’s evidence of gross negligence by the at-fault party; it serves as a deterrent to the person and others.

A breakdown of the above covers:

Medical Expenses

Medical costs are a significant part of a car accident claim's economic damages. It covers medical expenses immediately after the crash, the current treatment price, and any future additional cost. It includes some or all of the following: 

  • Hospital stays
  • Ambulance costs
  • Prosthetic devices
  • Medication
  • Needed in-home services
  • Medical appointments
  • Surgeries
  • Rehabilitation cost
  • Cognitive therapy in cases of brain injuries

Your Houston personal injury lawyer might involve a medical expert to determine the extent of your medical bills, past, present, and future.  

Income Losses

This compensation is another big chunk of economic damages. Victims who are unable to work while treating car accident injuries are entitled to income loss damages. Calculating your losses lost is not hard, as most insurance companies do it on a per-day basis.

It becomes tricky when the injury leaves the victim permanently disabled. In that case, the calculation must include future income projections. Most insurance companies use tables, life expectancy, earning capacity, and general damages formula. Accident law firms will hire experts to help you calculate the extent of your income loss.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering are the most common non-economic damages awarded by the courts. Although they are intangible, the law makes provision for them. It takes into account the pain and suffering the victim experienced due to the car accident injuries. The longer a person suffers, the more money they stand to get as compensation. 

Loss of Consortium

This is the damage explicitly awarded to an injured accident victim's spouse. Loss of consortium means loss of a marital relationship due to the victim’s injuries. An aggrieved spouse is the only one who can file a claim under this head. 

The person must show how the victim’s injuries impacted and prevented them from enjoying the “Normal” relationship they had before the accident. It usually succeeds because it is part of the underlying claim. 

Burial and Funeral Expenses

If a car accident victim dies from the injuries suffered, their relative or legal estate is entitled to recover wrongful death damages like burial and funeral expenses.. This settlement follows a wrongful death lawsuit and will not apply in a personal injury claim. A Houston wrongful death attorney can help you get a fair settlement.

Property Loses 

A victim who suffers property damages can get a settlement from the negligent driver. Most times, this compensation for the damages done to the car. Usually, the at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster looks at the vehicle to determine the wreckage’s extent and how much it would take to fix it. 

If the car is irreparably damaged, the adjuster might discard repairs. In this case, the determining factor will be the car’s market value before the crash versus the repair cost. Either way, you will get compensation for the loss. Note that property damage claims cover other personal items that might have been inside or outside the car at the collision time.

How Long Do You Have To File a Claim After Auto Accidents in Houston, Texas?

After a traffic collision, most people focus more on recovery and fail to realize that time is ticking. Since there must be an end to litigation, you have a responsibility to file your personal injury lawsuit in time. 

The Texas statute of Limitations makes provisions for how long auto accident victims have to commence a claim for damages after a car accident. For personal injury benefits, you have two years from the date the crash occurred. Any claim brought after the deadline is void. The time frame applies to property damages.

For fatal car accidents, the families of the victims or representatives must claim against the defendant within two years. Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, the time starts counting from the date the victim died, not when the accident happened. If the accident involves a Texas government worker, you have six months to file a claim..

Do You Need a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Settlement in Houston, Texas?

The simple and direct answer to this question is YES. Many people believe they can handle their car accident settlement alone and fail to seek an experienced personal injury lawyer in Houston, Texas.. While it is true that you don’t need a lawyer to a large extent, failure to have one means shortchanging yourself.

Once your insurance company or that of the at-fault party sees you alone without legal representation, they will take advantage of you. It means low payouts and bullying you into submission. Hence, you need an accident attorney.

Another reason you shouldn’t walk into a settlement meeting alone is the lack of expertise. Chances are you’ve never sat at a negotiation table before and do not know the dos and don’ts. A seasoned car accident lawyer in Houston pays attention to details and helps with the discovery process..

Since there’s a time limit for filing a car accident lawsuit, your legal representative will ensure you don’t miss the deadline. They will commence the process on your behalf and argue in your favor before the judge. Most Texas lawyers charge a contingency fee, so you don’t pay out of pocket.

Calhoun, Meredith, and Sims, PLLC Can Help You

Injuries can endanger your health, and putting it back together takes time. At Calhoun, Meredith, and Sims, PLLC, we understand how hard it is to bounce back from crashes and are ready to help accident injury victims.

As aggressive and innovative personal injury lawyers in Texas, we offer comprehensive legal services necessary to support your recovery. We will not only pursue an insurance claim on your behalf; we will represent you to the best of our ability.

As a client, don't worry about how you’ll pay us. As contingency fees lawyers, we don’t get paid unless we recover compensation for our clients. Call us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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