The many highways and byways in the Greater Houston area present the opportunity for high-speed driving that can result in serious car accidents. In fact, Houston is served by several interstate highways where motor vehicle accidents can occur, including the I-69/U.S. Route 59 Northeast (also known as the Eastex Freeway); the I-69/U.S. Route 59 Southwest (also known as the Southwest Freeway); I-45 South (also known as the Gulf Freeway); I-45 North (also known as the North Freeway); I-10 East (also known as the Baytown-East Freeway); and I-10 West (also known as the Katy Freeway).
Although motor vehicle accidents in and around Houston sometimes occur on interstate highways such as these (often due to speeding, distracted driving, and drunk driving, for example), these accidents can also happen on rural country roads, including dual-lane roadways. When one motor vehicle collides with another motor vehicle in a serious Houston car accident, the result can be devastating and sometimes deadly. Even if the car crash does not result in a fatality, the drivers and passengers of both vehicles can suffer extremely serious personal injuries that may prevent them from living and working in the same way that they could before the accident.
Fault and Texas Car Accident Law
When it comes to car accidents, Texas uses a fault system. If a driver or passenger sustains an injury in a car accident that another driver causes, the accident victim can file a claim or lawsuit directly against the at-fault driver (and indirectly against the at-fault driver's insurance company), seeking monetary compensation and damages for all of their injuries. In fact, the primary goal of any claim or lawsuit that an accident victim files after a Houston car accident is to pursue and recover monetary compensation for all related injuries and damages.
If you or a person you love has suffered one or more injuries in a car accident that occurred in the Greater Houston Metropolitan Area, the experienced Houston car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group are ready and willing to assist you with your case. In addition to filing a claim or lawsuit arising from the personal injuries and damages you suffered in your car accident, we will be your advocates throughout the process. We will work hard to help you pursue and recover the monetary compensation that you need for your injuries and inconvenience.
Our auto accident law firm can do that by negotiating with the at-fault driver's insurance company to secure a favorable settlement on your behalf or by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party for the monetary compensation and damages that you deserve. Please reach out to us today for more information about how we can assist you with all aspects of your Houston car accident case.
Common Causes of Car Accidents That Occur in the Greater Houston Area
Given the large numbers of cars and other motor vehicles that frequent highways and other roadways in and around Houston, motor vehicle accidents in the Greater Houston area are unfortunately all too common. These accidents are particularly common on interstate highways located in and around Houston due to the large number of vehicles moving at a high rate of speed.
However, speeding is not the only cause of motor vehicle collisions that occur in and around Houston.
Some of the most common causes of these accidents include:
- Violating the Texas road rules – The primary purpose of the Texas road rules and other traffic laws that are on the books in the state of Texas is to keep drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians as safe as possible at all times. When motor vehicle operators violate the rules of the road, such as by disregarding traffic control devices and stop or yield signs, failing to use turn signals, and exceeding the posted speed limit, they significantly increase their chances of causing a motor vehicle accident by colliding with another vehicle. When an accident victim's attorney can prove that a motor vehicle driver's negligence failed to follow the prevailing road rules, the accident victim may be in a position to file a claim or lawsuit against the negligent driver.
- Distracted motor vehicle operation – Distracted motor vehicle operation is another common cause of car accidents that take place in and around Houston. In fact, according to statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted motor vehicle operation continues to be a significant problem throughout most of the country. Distracted driving can take many forms, but one of the most common types of distracted driving involves using a cellular phone or tablet to make calls or send text messages while operating a motor vehicle. At other times, distracted driving can involve listening to blaring music in the car or disciplining young children who are present in the back seat of the car. All of these activities can divert a driver's attention away from the road and can cause them to become distracted very quickly. Even a distraction that lasts as little as a second or two can be enough to bring about a collision with another motor vehicle, resulting in serious injuries and damages.
- Drunk and drugged driving – Motor vehicle accidents can also occur when drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while they are behind the wheel of a car, truck, or motorcycle. Substances like alcohol are depressants, which slow down the central nervous system's functioning. This slow-down can delay a driver's reaction time and prevent them from reacting to a roadway situation with enough time to avoid a collision with another motor vehicle or pedestrian. When it comes to alcohol intoxication, the legal limit in Texas is a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. If a driver is arrested or charged with DUI, they could face criminal penalties. In addition, if the driver caused a motor vehicle accident that resulted in another person's injury or death, the at-fault driver could be subject to additional criminal penalties, as well as potential civil liability for the injuries and damages that the car accident causes.
- Defective products – In some cases, Houston motor vehicle accidents do not occur because of driver error at all. Instead, these accidents sometimes occur when a vehicle part or component does not work properly under the circumstances or fails to function in some way. For example, if an investigator or other expert traces the cause of a motor vehicle collision to a defective braking system, steering column, or defective technology (such as with the new driverless technology that is now available on some motor vehicle models), the accident victim could pursue a claim or lawsuit against the part manufacturer or distributor, seeking monetary compensation and damages for the losses they sustained in the accident.
Suppose you have suffered an injury in a car accident that happened in one or more of these ways. In that case, the knowledgeable Houston car accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group can help you pursue a legal claim or file a lawsuit against the at-fault party or parties. We know what it takes to build a strong insurance claim or lawsuit based on these causes and many more. We are here to assess your case and explain how we will approach recovering compensation for you.
Potential Responsibility for Car Accidents That Occur in and Around Houston
In many Houston car accident cases, negligent motor vehicle drivers who do not follow the rules of the road are to blame for the accident. However, there may be other parties who are fully or partially to blame for the car accident. For example, if a negligent driver operates a motor vehicle within the scope of their employment and causes an accident that leads to an injury, the accident victim could file a claim or lawsuit not only against the at-fault driver but also against the at-fault driver's employer.
An accident victim can hold an employer vicariously liable for the negligent acts that an employee commits while they are on the job and working with the scope of their employment. Moreover, employers are responsible for ensuring that they hire and retain competent employees with good driving records. Prudent hiring practices are especially important regarding commercial truck driver employers and employees. Also, if a particular driver has a particularly bad driving record, and that driver causes an accident, then the employer could be on the hook for negligently retaining a problem employee.
In addition to negligent drivers and employers, if the car accident happens because of a defective motor vehicle part, then the accident victim could file a claim or lawsuit against the motor vehicle part manufacturer or some other individual who is within the chain of product distribution.
The knowledgeable Houston car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can investigate your case to determine all of the parties who are fully or partially at fault for your car accident. We can then file the necessary claims or lawsuits against the appropriate parties, all while pursuing the monetary compensation that you deserve for your injuries.
Common Injuries That Occur in Houston Car Accidents
The injuries that an accident victim may suffer in a Houston car accident vary greatly, depending upon the extent of the motor vehicle collision, as well as the part or parts of the body that the car accident affected. More forceful impacts can result in more serious injuries, and an accident victim may also suffer a serious injury if a part of their body strikes something in the vehicle at the point of impact.
For example, the accident victim's head could make direct contact with the steering wheel, the driver's side window, or headrest, causing a serious neck injury or a traumatic brain or head injury. In addition, the accident victim could strike their knees on the console or move abruptly back and forth in the driver's seat, causing a whiplash-type injury or back injury.
The injuries that a car accident victim suffers can range from broken bones and fractures to spinal cord injuries. If the spinal cord injury is serious enough, it could lead to some type of full or partial paralysis. In addition, the accident victim could suffer painful soft tissue injuries, such as muscular strains or sprains, and could also suffer from bruising, cuts, and lacerations. If the car collision leads to a fire or other explosion, the accident victim could sustain burn injuries that may lead to scarring and some type of permanent disfigurement.
All of the injuries that an accident victim suffers in a car accident could require immediate medical attention following the accident. Therefore, car accident victims should immediately follow up at an urgent care center or local hospital emergency room for a diagnosis. The doctor can then refer the accident victim for follow-up treatment, including a consultation with their primary care physician or a specialist. All of these injuries could also lead to the need for additional medical attention, including physical therapy, surgeries, injections, and other painful and lengthy types of medical treatment.
In some instances, the injuries that an accident victim suffers in a Houston car accident can be fatal. When that occurs and a loved one passes away in a car accident, the surviving family members could bring a wrongful death claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver, seeking various forms of monetary compensation and damages.
Houston Car Accident FAQs
Following a car accident that occurs in the Greater Houston area, accident victims are frequently unsure of where they should turn next and what they should do. What follows are the answers to some common questions that accident victims often have following a serious car crash that takes place in or around Houston.
You may have questions, may not be able to find the answers below, or want to discuss the unique aspects of your case with our team and learn more about your legal options. Luckily, we provide free case reviews for collision victims and the families of those who lost a loved one in a Houston crash.
How Long After a Houston Car Accident do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
Houston car accidents fall under the legal umbrella of personal injury cases. In a Houston car accident case, the accident victim has two years from the date they sustain the injury (the date on which the car accident occurs) to file a lawsuit seeking monetary compensation and damages.
Absent some very limited exceptions, if the accident victim does not file a lawsuit within that two-year deadline, the accident victim cannot recover monetary compensation and damages from the at-fault party at any later point. Therefore, it is extremely important that you seek legal help as soon as possible following your Houston car accident, that you know the statute of limitations time deadline in your case, and that you or your attorney files a lawsuit within that deadline.
The main reason for having a statute of limitations in place in Houston car accident cases is to ensure that if the matter ultimately ends up going to trial, essential witnesses remain available, and the evidence remains fresh. It also prevents car accident cases from dragging on too long with no end in sight.
When it comes to satisfying the statute of limitations in a Houston car accident case, it is also important that all potentially responsible parties, including at-fault drivers, employers, and others, are named to the lawsuit promptly. If an accident victim does not file suit against a potentially responsible party promptly, they cannot pursue compensation from that party at any later point.
The experienced Houston car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group will ensure that your car accident lawsuit is filed on time and names all potentially responsible parties as defendants in the lawsuit. Once a lawsuit is filed in your case to protect the statute of limitations, we will work to help you pursue the compensation that you need and deserve for the injuries that you suffered in your Houston car accident.
What Are the Legal Elements that I Need to Prove As Part of a Houston Car Accident Claim or Lawsuit?
If you have sustained an injury due to a car accident, an experienced Houston car accident lawyer could assist you with filing a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party. Since Texas is a fault state, accident victims can file a claim or lawsuit directly against the at-fault party following a motor vehicle accident, as opposed to first filing a claim with their own insurance company. To recover monetary compensation for the injuries and damages that an accident victim suffers, the accident victim must first satisfy all of the legal elements of their Houston car accident claim.
First, the accident victim must demonstrate that the at-fault driver violated the standard of reasonable care. There are many ways that an at-fault driver may violate the standard of care under the circumstances. For example, they might violate a traffic law, engage in distracted driving, or operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, resulting in a serious accident.
In addition to proving that the at-fault driver violated the prevailing standard of care and behaved unreasonably under the circumstances, the accident victim must demonstrate that the other driver's negligence was a cause of the accident. Finally, the accident victim must show that they suffered one or more injuries as a result of the accident.
The experienced Houston car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can assist you with proving all of the legal elements of your case and pursuing the monetary compensation and damages that you deserve for your injuries.
Will My Houston Car Accident Case Go All the Way to a Jury Trial?
Even if your lawyer files a car accident lawsuit on your behalf in the Texas state court system, that alone does not necessarily mean that your Houston car accident case will go all the way to a jury trial. In fact, many car accident cases settle out of court before they ever go to trial. However, in car accident cases where the at-fault driver's insurance company disputes fault for the accident or does not offer you full and fair compensation for your injuries, taking your case to trial or pursuing alternative dispute resolution (such as arbitration or mediation) may be a good option for you and your case.
The process generally begins by filing a claim with the insurance company for the at-fault driver. Keep in mind there may be some circumstances where your lawyer might recommend suing the liable parties instead of preparing and filing an insurance claim. Your attorney should be able to explain why this route is a good idea and leave the choice up to you. In most cases, though, the insurance claims process will come first.
When filing a claim, your lawyer can submit a demand package to the insurance company's adjuster that contains a monetary demand for settlement (sometimes the available policy limits of coverage in serious accident cases), as well as important pieces of documentation.
Essential documentation to include as part of a settlement demand package typically includes:
- A copy of the police report, in the event the responding police officer prepared one following your car accident
- Copies of all of your medical records, reports, and bills that show the nature and extent of your injuries, the medical treatment that you received, and the cost of all related medical treatment and procedures
- Copies of all photographs and diagrams that depict the scene of the accident or the injuries that you suffered in your accident
- Copies of all lost wage documentation prepared and submitted by you or your employer, such as old pay stubs and pay statements that show the amount of time that you were out of work following your car accident and the amount of money that you lost as a result of not working following your accident
- A victim impact statement that you prepare, describing the full extent of your injuries, everything that you went through following your car accident, and the impact that the accident and injuries had on both your life and your lifestyle.
Once the insurance company adjuster receives and reviews this documentation, the adjuster may make an offer to settle the car accident case. However, keep in mind that these initial settlement offers are usually very low. At this very early stage, the insurance company is most likely trying to quickly and cheaply settle the case. In most instances, it will take several rounds of negotiations between the insurance company adjuster and the accident victim to resolve the case and get to an offer that fairly compensates the accident victim for the injuries they suffered in the accident.
If the adjuster and the accident victim's attorney cannot agree on a settlement amount, the accident victim's lawyer will likely file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or another responsible individual. Although the accident victim's lawyer files suit against the at-fault person, it is essentially the insurance company that is ultimately calling the shots behind the scenes. Once an accident victim or their attorney files a lawsuit in the Texas state court system, the litigation process begins.
During the litigation stage of a car accident case, the parties typically engage in written and oral discovery. The purpose of discovery is for each side of the dispute to learn more about the other party's version of the case. As part of the discovery process, the attorney for the defendant will typically take the accident victim's out-of-court oral deposition. During a deposition, the attorney will ask the accident victim questions about how the accident occurred, the injuries they suffered in the accident, any permanent disabilities that a doctor may have diagnosed, and any time the accident victim claims they had to miss from work.
In some cases, following a deposition, the insurance company will increase its offer on the car accident case. At other times, the parties may have to continue negotiating the Houston car accident case up until the time of the settlement conference. If the case does not resolve at a pre-trial settlement conference or mediation, the parties may elect to take the case to trial. Jury trials are especially common in car accident cases where the insurance company is disputing fault or liability. For example, the insurance company may contend that the plaintiff accident victim significantly contributed to the car accident in some way.
If the case ultimately goes to a jury trial, the jury will decide all of the disputed issues in the case. If the parties dispute both fault and damages, then the jury members will decide both of those issues. However, if only damages are at issue, the jury will decide what, if any, compensation the accident victim will recover for the injuries they sustained in the accident.
In some instances, the parties to the car accident case may decide to resolve their case by way of binding arbitration instead of taking the case to a jury trial. At a binding arbitration proceeding, a neutral, third-party arbitrator decides the outcome of a case after the parties present their evidence, much like at a trial. However, arbitration proceedings do not take place in a courtroom, and the arbitrator's decision in the case is final. Therefore, if the accident victim is not satisfied with the arbitrator's damage award, they do not have a right of appeal.
The experienced Houston car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can help you decide if taking your case to trial is likely the right move in your car accident case. If you decide to take your case to trial or binding arbitration, your lawyer will be by your side every step of the way, advocating for you and pursuing the monetary compensation that you deserve for your car accident injuries.
What Monetary Compensation Can I Recover Following a Houston Car Accident?
After suffering one or more injuries in a Houston car accident, there are several types of monetary compensation that an accident victim might be eligible to recover. The types and amounts of monetary compensation and damages that are available to the accident victim depend upon how severely the accident victim was injured, as well as the nature and extent of the injuries sustained.
Generally speaking, if the accident victim suffered a permanent injury in the accident, they might recover more monetary compensation than if the accident victim suffered an injury that was not as serious (such as a soft tissue injury).
First of all, the accident victim, regardless of the nature and extent of the injury sustained, could pursue monetary compensation for all related medical treatment costs and expenses. Those expenses could include the costs of hospital stays, medication, surgeries, and other medical procedures related to injuries sustained in the accident. In addition, the accident victim could pursue compensation for wages they lost as a result of not working following the accident.
In addition to these economic damages and other out-of-pocket costs, the accident victim could file a claim for non-economic damages. These damages are meant to compensate car accident victims for all of the inconvenience, pain, and suffering that they had to endure as a result of injuries sustained in the car accident. Moreover, if the accident victim cannot use a body part following a car accident, they could make a loss of use claim. Accident victims could also file a claim for loss of enjoyment of life if they cannot partake in the same social and recreational activities that they did before the car accident occurred.
An individual left injured from a motor vehicle accident due to the actions of another driver has a daunting and expensive uphill battle to recover physically, emotionally, and financially. If you find yourself in such circumstances, know that you don't have to face them alone. An experienced Houston car accident attorney at Dolman Law Group will do everything possible to maximize the settlement or verdict value of your Houston car accident case and will help you pursue all of the damages that you need and deserve for the losses you sustained.
How do I Know How Much My Case May be Worth?
When Dolman Law Group represents a client hurt in a Houston collision, a key part of our job is to determine how much their case may be worth. We will not be able to offer a possible fair settlement range for your Texas crash claim until we investigate what happened, understand the strength of your case, and identify your recoverable damages.
Depending on your future treatment and/or ongoing care needs, we may have to determine the likely expenses and losses you will incur going forward. For example, burn injuries often require future plastic surgery to release scarring and restore a wider range of motion. Some catastrophic injuries require substantial ongoing care and support for months, years, or the rest of the victim's life.
If we need to determine future care costs in your case, we will work with medical experts and possibly economists to understand how these expenses affect the value of your claim. We will also assess your intangible losses according to industry norms, including your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more.
When Should I Consider Hiring a Houston Car Accident Lawyer?
You should begin thinking about your legal options for compensation as soon as your injuries are stable and your head is clear. If your loved one suffered a catastrophic injury and cannot contact us on their own, we can discuss the case with you.
The sooner we assess a case, sign a contract, and get to work, the better. Not only do we have strict deadlines to meet, but evidence can also disappear quickly. The earlier we get to work, the more evidence there may be to prove your case.
For example, local businesses generally only keep surveillance video for a few weeks at most. If their camera caught your intersection collision on video, but we do not request it for several months, it will likely be gone.
Call Our Houston Car Accident Attorneys Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a person you care about has suffered an injury in a Houston car accident, the knowledgeable Houston car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can assist. While you are recovering from your injuries and receiving the medical treatment that you need, our legal team can get to work investigating your case and filing a legal claim on your behalf. We can then pursue monetary compensation for the injuries you sustained in your Houston car accident.
You can easily reach Dolman Law Group, or you can write to us using our online contact page. The first consultation is free, and we won't collect any fees unless we reach a financial outcome.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
6330 Gulf Fwy Suite 110
Houston, TX 77023
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