COMMON TYPES OF AUTO COLLISIONS
Auto accidents or auto collisions come in all shapes and sizes. However, as a general proposition, the root cause of all collision is usually following to one of three categories. One, distracted driving; two, lack of sleep, or three, impaired or drunk driving. 94% of all clashes are caused by human choice or error, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s the fatal decision to get behind the wheel after drinking. It’s the decision to speed through the intersection as the light is changing. It’s the decision to drive after a sleepless night.
It’s the decision to send one more text from behind the wheel to let someone know you are on the way. If you look hard enough, the cause of almost any collision is a choice made by the defendant to violate the safety rule that all drivers know of and that all drivers know the consequences of.
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WHAT ARE THE TOP MISCONCEPTIONS PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT AUTO COLLISIONS?
One of the most common misunderstandings is the speed with which things will get resolved. A lot of people have been bombarded over the years with the commercials on TV, talking about the good neighbor and the good hands folks and how quickly they resolve things and the reality is that it rarely happens that fast. The second most common misconception is that it’ll — that the insurance companies are there to help them. Insurance companies are based upon a business model to resolve claims as cheaply and as quickly as possible. They’re not there to treat you fairly.
They’re not there to be your friend, they’re not particularly interested in justice or fairness; they’re interested in paying as little money as possible and closing the claim. Sometimes they attempt to do their job by quickly rushing and offering you money before you realize the nature and extent of your injuries. That happens fast. It also happens very unfairly. So it’s important to understand that in order to be able to evaluate your own claim, you need to know what’s the nature and extent of your injury and how long is it going to last. Until you have that information from your medical providers, you have no business trying to settle or resolve your claim.
WHAT DOES FAULT AND NO-FAULT STATE MEAN? HOW DOES IT APPLY TO AN AUTO COLLISION IN TEXAS?
Texas is a traditional state that requires a finding of fault is the word we hear a lot but it’s really finding the negligence for the climate to prevail. In Texas, in order to prevail at trial on an auto collision case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent and that the negligence was a proximate cause of the occurrence and the injury in question. Negligence is defined as failure to use ordinary care that is failing to do at which a person of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances, for doing that which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances.
Ordinary care means that degree of care which would be used by a person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances. Of course, you’ll have to be able to show that the negligence was an approximate cause of the injury in question and proximate cause means a cause that was a substantial factor in bringing about the injury or occurrence without which the occurrence would not have occurred. So we use short-hand terms like fault or responsibility but ultimately the question is negligence. What did the other driver do wrong, what safety rules did he violate, and did the violation of the safety rules matter and cause injury? I practice in Texas which is a negligence state.
I don’t practice in any states that do have no-fault statutes, so I really can’t comment on how things work in those states.
WHAT ARE THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR BRINGING AN AUTO COLLISION LAWSUIT IN TEXAS?
In Texas, the personal injury claims are governed by a 2-year statute of limitations. That means that a lawsuit must be filed and served upon the defendant within the 2-year anniversary date of the date of your injury, which is the date of your wreck. Of course, you don’t want to wait that long. A suit needs to be filed well in advance of that 2-year anniversary date in order to make sure that you have all the proper defendants identified and served.
Sometimes defendants can be difficult to locate and serve suit papers on, sometimes corporate defendants can be difficult to figure out exactly who is responsible and whose employees are actually responsible for the negligence that caused the occurrence. But as a general proposition, you have 2 years to get your lawsuit filed. That does not mean that your case or your lawsuit has to be settled within 2 years but if you don’t get your case settled before that 2-year date, you have to file a lawsuit to protect your rights or else they will be barred by the statute of limitations.
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