Car Accident Attorney in Mesquite Providing Strong Representation for Victims Hurt by a Careless Driver
It’s no secret that Texas consistently ranks among the nation’s most dangerous states for motor vehicle traffic crashes. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the state has seen a 15.22% increase in fatal traffic accidents in 2021 compared to previous years. That means one person was killed in a car accident every two hours, and someone was injured in a car crash every two minutes. As problematic as these statistics may be, it is essential to know what to do to recover compensation if you were hurt in a car accident in Texas and the steps you should take to protect your rights as a car accident victim.
What Causes Most Car Accidents in Texas?
Unfortunately, most car accidents involving more than a single vehicle in Texas are said to be caused by intoxicated drivers or distracted drivers. Individuals whose BAC (blood alcohol content) is 0.08% or higher are not legally allowed to operate a motor vehicle in the state. Yet many choose to do so despite knowing the risks and being aware that they are breaking the law. The Texas Department of Transportation reports that as many as 1077 people were killed in car crashes where one of the drivers was intoxicated (under the influence of drugs or alcohol) in 2021.
In the same year, one of every five crashes on Texas roadways was caused by distracted driving. Distracted drivers usually engage in other activities such as checking their phones, eating, drinking, and even putting on makeup, taking their attention away from the task of driving and endangering themselves and other roadway users.
A distracted driver who chooses to look at their phone for just a moment while driving their vehicle at highway speeds can cover as much as the length of a football field without looking at the road ahead, meaning they would not be able to react to changes such as slow traffic or pedestrians crossing the roadway. These drivers also often engage in unsafe driving by veering off their lane into other lanes of traffic, driving too fast (or too slow), and causing rear-end collisions because the distracted driver is not able to apply the brakes in time.
What Are Some of the Most Common Injuries a Car Accident Victim May Sustain?
The severity of car crash injuries can range from just a few bruises and cuts to spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and head trauma that requires immediate medical attention. Speed and the use of safety equipment such as seatbelts are some of the many variables that determine whether someone will walk away from a car crash or require extensive medical care. Soft tissue injuries, bone fractures, head and chest injuries, and injuries to limbs are some of the most common types of injuries observed after a car accident.
Soft tissue injuries include a wide variety of conditions caused by damage done to a person’s tendons, ligaments, muscles, or skin. Road rash, bruises, cuts, scrapes, and whiplash are examples of soft tissue injuries. These can be caused by objects being displaced inside the car during a collision, and sometimes even the deployment of an airbag can result in minor soft tissue injuries. Most soft tissue injuries are painful but not life-threatening. In some cases, the blunt-force trauma of a high-speed vehicle collision can cause soft-tissue damage that can lead to organ damage and internal bleeding, which are serious conditions that must be treated immediately and could lead to death.
Another concern in terms of car accident injuries is head trauma. Because it is common for a driver’s or a passenger’s head to suffer a significant blow when that person hits the windshield, the dash, or another hard surface inside the vehicle, they may suffer injuries that can range in severity from a simple concussion to a severe, life-altering TBI (traumatic brain injury). While most concussions can be treated at home, a traumatic brain injury can leave a victim with a variety of disabling conditions ranging from difficulty walking, talking, and performing regular daily activities to difficulty thinking, learning, and remembering information.
Factors such as speed, the direction of travel, road conditions, and the driver’s actions (whether they attempted to swerve or apply brakes or were wearing a seatbelt) usually play an important role in determining the type and severity of their injuries. Even if you believe you are not hurt or that your injuries are minor, it is extremely important to be examined by a medical professional immediately after your accident. Many types of injuries, such as whiplash or concussion, may not manifest symptoms for days or weeks following the accident, so by seeking medical help early in the process, you will be better prepared to prove that the symptoms you are experiencing now are resulting from your accident and not due to a separate, unrelated event.
Who Is Financially Responsible for My Car Accident?
If your accident was mostly caused by another driver, that driver is responsible for your damages, and compensation is typically available after you successfully submit a claim through the at-fault driver’s insurance. This is the most common scenario a car accident victim may typically encounter, but in some cases, the at-fault driver may be underinsured or carry no insurance. In this situation, you may need to submit a claim through your own insurance company (if your policy allows it).
Another option is to talk to an attorney and discuss the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, which may be feasible if that driver does not carry insurance or their insurance carrier has unfairly denied your claim. In some cases, such as an accident involving a rideshare driver or a corporate vehicle, you may be required to file more than one insurance claim. Car accidents involving government-owned vehicles, such as city buses, may be more complex and require additional steps. An attorney can advise you on who may be financially responsible for your losses and the most feasible route you should take to obtain compensation.
Can I Still Get Compensation Even If I Was Partially at Fault?
Being partially responsible for your accident does not automatically disqualify you from seeking compensation for your losses in Texas. However, there are a few rules you should be aware of. Texas follows the modified comparative negligence rules, which means a plaintiff (in this case, the car accident victim) may seek compensation for their damages as long as they are not more than 50% at fault for their injuries. If that person is 51% at fault or more, they may be barred from seeking compensation.
In addition, whenever a plaintiff is partially at fault, the final award amount may be affected depending on the percentage of blame assigned to them. In other words, suppose it is determined that you are 20% responsible for your own accident because you were engaging in distracted driving and did not attempt to hit the brakes or swerve to avoid a wrong-way driver. If you were 0% at fault, your total award would be $10,000.00, for example. However, because you are 20% at fault, you will still get paid but will receive $8,000.00 instead.
What Kind of Damages Are Available for Car Accident Victims?
A car accident is considered a type of personal injury, which means victims may seek payment for both economic and non-economic damages. In certain cases, victims may also receive punitive damages in addition to standard damages.
The most visible types of losses resulting from an accident are economic damages. These are substantial financial losses, such as a damaged vehicle and a variety of healthcare-related bills (from emergency care to follow-up appointments, rehabilitation, physical therapy, prescription drugs, and more). If the victim has been unable to work due to their injuries, they may also seek payment for lost wages. In more severe cases where the victim is left with a permanent partial or total disability that hinders their capacity to earn their regular wages, they may also include loss of future earning ability as a type of economic damage.
However, a major car accident leaves victims with much more than just financial damages, usually resulting in long-lasting emotional scars that can temporarily or permanently impact their quality of life. Non-economic damages are a way of providing restitution for the more subjective losses sustained by a car accident victim, such as pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Finally, there is a third category of compensable damages available only in cases where gross negligence can be proven to be the root cause of the accident. Gross negligence occurs when someone acts with extreme disregard for the safety of others, knowingly engaging in reckless or dangerous behavior in spite of being aware of the potentially catastrophic consequences.
Because a personal injury case is handled in a civil court, the judge cannot sentence the defendant to criminal penalties such as jail time. Instead, the judge can order the defendant to pay the victim additional money in the form of punitive damages as a way to punish the defendant’s behavior and prevent them from engaging in similar actions in the future. Not every case is eligible for punitive damages, so talk to an attorney to see what type of damages may be available for your specific case.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help?
When you’ve been hurt in a car accident and are trying to recover from your injuries, dealing with red tape and constant insurance calls is the last thing you want to do. Not just that, but most insurance companies are not necessarily on your side and may always be looking for a reason to pay you less than what you deserve or deny your claim altogether.
Fortunately, a car accident lawyer can represent you and handle every aspect of your case on your behalf, so all you need to do is to focus on healing and getting back on your feet. At the Oberg Law Office, attorney Gregg Oberg and his legal team have helped countless car accident victims in Mesquite and all over Texas, and they are ready to help you, too. Call 972-640-9147 to discuss your case and learn your options.