Austin is known for having some of the worst traffic in the nation. With thousands of cars on the road every day, it’s not surprising that our area experiences more than its fair share of automobile accidents. In fact, according to recent statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation, a reportable car crash occurred every 57 seconds on Texas roadways in 2016. Of these accidents, 3,773 were fatal—an increase of 5.45% from the previous year. In other words, automobile accidents are very common in Texas and many of these accidents are the result of negligence.
If you or a loved one were involved in a car crash, you are likely suffering from lasting consequences. Serious accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries and even death, while relatively minor accidents can still leave victims dealing with injuries, trauma, and financial burdens. At Howry Breen & Herman, we help victims of negligence fight for a just recovery. Our Austin car accident attorneys have extensive trial experience and are prepared to help you pursue the compensation you are owed.
Did Driver Negligence Lead to Your Accident?
Operating a moving vehicle is a huge responsibility. Every time a motorist gets behind the wheel, he or she has a duty to act in a reasonably safe manner in order to protect themselves, their passengers, and other motorists. Unfortunately, not all drivers take this responsibility seriously. When drivers act carelessly or recklessly, they can cause serious accidents.
Some of the most common causes of car accidents that can be attributed to negligence include:
- Distracted driving, including eating or cell phone use
- Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol (DUI/DWI)
- Reckless driving, including speeding or street racing
- Failure to follow traffic laws, including illegal turns or lane changes
- Dangerous driving maneuvers, such as turning left ahead of oncoming traffic
- Failure to stop at street lights and/or stop signs
- Fatigued driving or falling asleep at the wheel
These are just some examples of how negligence might lead to a car accident. Other examples of negligence include defective automobile design or faulty car parts (including brakes or tires), poorly designed roads, or unsafe speed limits.
Serious Injuries After a Car Accident
The types of injuries you might suffer in a car accident depend on the type of accident and its severity. Some people can walk away from a crash and only require a doctor’s checkup. Others need immediate medical attention and extensive hospitalization. In either situation, our attorneys can help fight for every cent of compensation owed for medical care because we proudly take cases big and small.
Injuries suffered in car accidents can vary, such as:
- Broken bones: Heavy impacts will send shockwaves through a car that can be powerful enough to fracture or shatter bones. Arm breaks are also common among people who tried to brace themselves against the steering wheel.
- Whiplash: One of the most painful yet common car accident injuries is whiplash, which is caused by a sudden and violent back-and-forth jerking motion of the neck. It is often caused by rear-end collisions and suffered by the people in the front car.
- Brain injury: People who hit their head against the steering wheel, window, dash, or windshield in a crash can suffer a life-changing traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Back injury: It is common for people to feel painful backaches for days or weeks after being in a violent car accident. Physical therapy is often needed.
- Spinal cord injury: Harm to the spinal cord can be catastrophic and cause immediate and permanent paralysis. When all four limbs are paralyzed, it is called paraplegia.
- Lacerations: Broken glass and twisted metal can pose extreme hazards in a crash. Deep lacerations need immediate medical attention.
- Scarring: Burns and lacerations can leave permanent scars and disfigurements, which can cause psychological harm as the victim attempts to adjust to their new appearance.
- Vision loss: Small debris thrown through the air in a crash can strike the eyes, causing partial or total vision loss in one or both eyes.
- Hearing loss: Noises in a car accident can be loud enough to cause partial hearing loss. Damage to the eardrum can also cause deafness.
- Organ damage: Internal injuries are not uncommon in violent car accidents. Survivors should always see a doctor immediately after a crash to check for signs of internal bleeding or organ damage.
Understanding Texas Comparative Fault Law
Much like other types of motor vehicle and bicycle accidents, car accident liability falls under Texas’s comparative fault law. Under this law, a driver is only entitled to recover damages if he or she is no more than 50% at fault for the accident. If a motorist is found to be less than 51% at fault, he or she is entitled to recover the total amount of damages suffered minus the percentage that he or she is liable. In other words, if a jury finds that you suffered $100,000 worth of damages but you were 40% at fault for the accident, you are entitled to recover $60,000.
Every situation is unique and, therefore, it is impossible to say how much your case is worth without a consultation. It is important that you meet with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and to determine whether or not you are entitled to recover damages.
Steps to Take After an Accident
You can’t always predict when a negligent driver is going to hit you. But you can always be ready for what to do after you get into a car accident. No matter what sort of car accident you are in or who caused it, there are five steps you should always follow to help navigate the situation and to benefit your future injury claim.
Call Emergency Responders
After any car accident in which someone is seriously injured or debris is scattered into the roadway, you should call emergency responders for help. Firefighters can extract people from damaged vehicles, paramedics can perform lifesaving first aid, and police officers can redirect oncoming traffic away from the damaged vehicles. Emergency responders will also write reports about what they saw and did. Your future claim could benefit from those reports.
Write Down Identifying Information
You will need to collect identifying and insurance information from all other parties involved. Write down the information where you know you can find it later. Although you might not need the insurance info of passengers involved in your crash, you should still get their contact information.
Take Pictures & Video
Some of the most convincing evidence to support your car accident claim will be photographs and video footage taken at the scene of the crash. Use your smartphone to take pictures of vehicular damage, injuries, traffic and roadway conditions, and the weather. The easier it is to recreate the scene using your photos and video later, the better.
You might want to say something like, “I’m sorry. Are you okay?” No matter what your good manners tell you, do your best to avoid giving an apology after your crash. Insurance companies like to keep an ear open for apologies and misconstrue them into an admission of guilt as an unfair way to pin liability on someone.
See a Doctor
On the same day as your accident, you should see a doctor for a medical checkup. Even if you feel fine, arrange to see a trusted medical professional within the next few hours of your accident. You could have underlying injuries that you don’t notice right away but that a doctor can diagnose. Starting your treatment as soon as possible can help mitigate the severity of your injuries. It will also benefit your claim by making it more difficult for an insurance company to blame the severity of your injuries on you, which they often do when a claimant does not see a doctor or ignores the doctor’s orders.
As a last added step, you should speak with a local car accident attorney at your first opportunity. If your claim is complicated or contested by the insurance company representing the other driver, then a lawyer can help you strengthen and progress your claim in pursuit of fair compensation for your damages.
Contact Our Team Today for a Free Consultation
At Howry Breen & Herman, we have been helping injured victims throughout the Austin and Georgetown area since 1995. Our team is dedicated to helping our clients fight for a favorable outcome. In addition to assisting injured victims, we represent defendants wrongfully accused of negligence. No matter your situation, our Austin car accident attorneys can provide you with the personalized legal counsel and aggressive advocacy you need.