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TX crash lawyerDrivers in South Central Texas rarely have to contend with severe winter weather conditions, but this can mean that when such conditions do arrive, they can be all the more dangerous. In recent days, as a rare winter storm has brought about the accumulation of ice and snow, police departments in New Braunfels, San Antonio, and the surrounding areas have received more than 100 reports of car accidents related to the weather, and several of them have been fatal. During this difficult time, it is important for Texas residents to be aware that they can pursue compensation for car accident injuries through a personal injury claim, even when the weather is a contributing factor in the accident.

How Can Texas Drivers Stay Safe in Winter Weather?

Generally, the best way to avoid an accident in winter weather is to avoid driving entirely while conditions are dangerous, as many Texas officials are currently recommending. You should consider delaying any unnecessary trips outside of your home until the severe weather abates and the roads are cleared. However, if it is absolutely necessary to drive, you should take special care to drive safely.

Safe winter driving starts even before you leave your home. First of all, you should be sure that your vehicle is equipped for the weather. This means that your tires have substantial tread, your brakes are fully functional, and you have working lights, defrosters, and windshield wipers. You should also clear your vehicle of snow and ice as much as possible so that you are able to see your surroundings while you are on the road.

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TX accident lawyerOn February 11, 2021, Texas experienced one of the largest vehicle pileups on record in the United States, with more than 130 total vehicles involved in the accident on I-35W in Fort Worth. The pileup, which occurred during the morning hours when many drivers were on their way to work, has resulted in at least six fatalities and over 60 people requiring treatment for injuries. The initial cause of the accident is still under investigation, but icy road conditions are suspected to be a contributing factor.

While collisions of this magnitude are fairly rare, multi-vehicle pileups are not an uncommon occurrence, especially on busy interstate highways and during times of low visibility and dangerous weather conditions. If you are injured in such a crash, it can be complicated to determine who is at fault and how you might be able to recover compensation. Fortunately, an experienced personal injury attorney can help.

Determining Negligence in a Multi-Car Pileup Accident

Typically, a driver whose negligent behavior causes an accident is liable for damages related to injuries suffered by the people involved. However, there are a few complicated issues when it comes to negligence in a multi-vehicle pileup. First, an injury victim may need to determine whether their injuries were caused by the incident that started the pileup, or a subsequent accident in which a driver failed to react appropriately to the pileup that had already started.

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TX accident lawyerLate last month, four people were injured in a car accident on Highway 71 in Austin, with first responders mentioning dangerous road conditions after a rainstorm as a possible contributing factor. While South Texas drivers are rarely exposed to the dangers of winter snowstorms that plague states further to the north, rainy conditions can create serious hazards of their own, making it important to take steps to promote safety on the roads.

The Driving Hazards of Texas Rainstorms

Throughout the year, drivers in South Texas are exposed to severe weather conditions, both from weather fronts traveling east across the U.S. and tropical storms that develop in the Gulf of Mexico. Heavy rainfall can affect road safety in a number of ways, primarily related to reduced visibility and slippery or flooded road surfaces. In order to lower your risk of getting in an accident, you should take the following safety precautions:

  • Make sure your car is ready for the road conditions. This includes checking your tire tread, keeping your brakes maintained, and ensuring that your lights, windshield wipers, and defoggers are all working properly.
  • Use your lights when driving in the rain. Due to decreased visibility during a downpour, it is important to turn on your regular-beam headlights whenever you are driving in the rain, no matter the time of day or how light or dark it is outside.
  • Travel at safe speeds. Wet roads are more dangerous for drivers traveling at high speeds. In many cases, it is best to reduce your speed below the posted speed limit during or after a rainfall so that you can maintain better control of your car.
  • Avoid sharp turns and braking. Similarly, it is best to keep most driving actions slow and gradual, including turning a corner or coming to a stop. Sharp adjustments can often send your vehicle into a skid from which it may be difficult to recover.
  • Be careful of standing water. Even a fairly shallow pool of water on the road can significantly increase the risk of losing control and causing an accident. Whenever possible, you should steer around standing water, or consider taking an alternate route entirely.

Contact a New Braunfels Car Accident Lawyer

Even when rainy conditions are a factor in an accident, if you are injured, you still have the right to pursue compensation from another negligent driver who fails to take the necessary precautions to protect your safety. At The Bettersworth Law Firm, we can help you gather evidence pointing to the other driver’s fault and present your case for recovering damages. Contact a New Braunfels personal injury attorney today at 830-606-0404 for a free consultation.

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TX crash lawyerEarly September has seen a significant amount of rain across central and southern Texas, which has led to accidents and potential dangers that are not always seen on state roads. Low-water crossings have closed several roads in the Austin area and out in Travis, Hays, and Williamson Counties, but perhaps the most shocking incident came on 360 Capital of Texas Highway on September 9, when rocks fell near Courtyard Drive southbound onto the highway itself. If you are involved in an accident due to weather-related issues, know that sometimes you may be able to recover for your injuries, but sometimes, the accident will be seen as so unforeseeable that no one can be held liable.

Each Case Is Different

On the whole, weather-related vehicle crashes play a role in more deaths in the U.S. than major disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) estimate approximately 5.9 million vehicle accidents every year, with about one-fifth having a weather-related component. Roughly 16 percent of all vehicle deaths in the country each year result from weather-related accidents, while the average for natural disasters (floods, lightning storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and heat) is only about 380.

There are several different factors that can play a role in weather-related crashes, with wet pavement being one of the most common. Limited visibility from precipitation and fog are others that are seen most often, especially in situations where sudden storms hit and visibility worsens very quickly. In Texas, rain accumulation is also the cause for stalled vehicles and injuries when low-water crossings become flooded. Any of these types of accidents can lead to serious harm, but you being able to recover monetarily will depend on the specific facts of your situation.

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TX car accident lawyerA large portion of Texas enjoys fairly warm weather for most of the year, but winter temperatures sometimes do happen, even as far south as Houston or San Antonio. In early February 2020, snow flurries have led to fun and memories - but have also led to icy roads and crashes. In Austin, parts of North Loop 360 and East U.S. 290 were closed, and in Round Rock, RM 1431 saw two crashes recently. While law enforcement and the Texas Department of Transportation were able to manage the majority of issues on the roads, this is by no means guaranteed. If you are in an auto accident where the weather could have played a role, it is a good idea to understand what options you might have for compensation.

What People Do In Weather

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management Program (RWMP) estimates that as many as 21 percent of all auto accidents are weather-related, whether rain, sleet, fog, snow, wind, or another type. On average, almost 5,000 fatalities happen every year as a result of these crashes - because of weather, obviously, but more specifically because of certain factors in driving due to weather; namely, how individual drivers approach unusual or sudden weather patterns.

For example, heavy snowfall can reduce the rate of speed on a freeway by as much as 40 percent - but there will always be some driver who continues to drive, often aggressively, at a rate of speed that would be fine on smooth, dry roads, but is too fast when ice or rain is present. Auto accident cases often turn on the “reasonableness” (or lack thereof) of someone’s actions, and if it can be shown that the driver’s speed plus the weather was unreasonable, they will often wind up being liable for any injuries they caused.

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The sooner you call, the sooner we can build your case, secure evidence and get maximum compensation for your injuries.

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