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TX injury lawyerLabor Day is traditionally a time for people to be out on the roads, having one last hurrah before autumn begins. However, because so many people are usually on vacation or trying to get to their vacations, it does mean that Texas roads can become somewhat dangerous. While traffic may be less than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still worth taking particular care on Labor Day weekend, lest you wind up in an accident that could have been avoided.

DUI Accidents Are Common

Last year, Texas troopers handed out over 102,000 citations and warnings, with roughly 1,200 arrests, in the three day period, and an untold number of civil lawsuits stemming from the same incidents. The most common types of civil lawsuits that occur as a result of Labor Day accidents are those involving driving under the influence and those where a passenger is injured. While it is often fairly simple to establish liability in cases involving drunk or high drivers, it is difficult for many injured passengers to determine just who might be liable for the harm they suffered.

If you are injured by a driver you believe was under the influence of something, you have several options to establish liability, either against the driver themselves or in some cases, against the third party that overserved them (referred to as a dram shop lawsuit). Texas’ dram shop law allows an injured plaintiff to file suit against an establishment that allegedly overserved a drunk driver, assuming that the driver was “obviously intoxicated” enough to present a “clear danger” to themselves or others.

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TX injury lawyerThe COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting the United States for most of 2020, with consequences forcing major changes to almost every aspect of normal life. One change that has slid under the radar, so to speak, is that for a variety of reasons, the number of traffic accidents has dropped sharply since March (though evidence suggests that the rate of car crashes has actually risen). It is worth studying the trends as to why this is happening and what we can learn from it when movement restrictions are lifted. If you must leave your home, knowing that your risk of a traffic accident is lower may offer some temporary comfort.

Why Bother Studying This?

Though the average person might be able to guess why the number of traffic accidents has dropped since the beginning of the pandemic - fewer people required to commute means fewer cars on the road, which in turn means fewer cars to get into accidents - studies are still being done, so that any deeper causation might be discovered. Any information that can be divined from this type of study might wind up saving lives in the future. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that while the overall number of accidents has decreased, the rate has been rising slowly but steadily.

In addition to tracking causes of accidents and overall frequency of injury, this type of study is relevant in determining the future for certain revenue types - for example, tolls make a lot of money for states, and with fewer drivers on the road, that revenue stream drops or disappears. Also, in Texas, gasoline taxes are a major part of the transportation budget, and when commuters buy less gasoline, there may be less in the budget for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to conduct necessary road repairs. Traffic data can help provide more insight.

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TX accident lawyerRecently, the homeowner whose home lay near the corner of Rigsby and Elgin Avenue experienced not one, but two separate car crashes - one vehicle striking the porch, and the other striking a tree in the front yard. While thankfully, no one was hurt, the homeowner went on the record, hoping that the City of San Antonio will do something to fix the roadway “before any more crashes occur.” If you are ever so unlucky as to experience this type of crash where you can argue that poor road maintenance played a role, it is important to keep in mind that you may have a cause of action against the city instead of simply thinking it all your own fault.

Bad Roads Cause Accidents

The area near Rigsby and Elgin Avenue has anecdotally been known to be hazardous for some time, with the homeowner describing “two slopes” where cars “pop up” and lose control. In general, Texas roads are in substandard condition, with the percentage of roads in good condition steadily decreasing over the years - a recent study by the nonprofit group Tripnet estimates that approximately 26 percent of Texas’ major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. The state and local governments where broken-down roads are located have an obligation to maintain them in good condition, and failure to do so may open them up to liability.

Badly maintained pavement, as seems to be the issue near the two accidents, is not the only way that roads can qualify as being poorly maintained. Other examples include obscured lights or signs, flooding/poor drainage, missing guardrails or lane marks, or debris like construction items on the road. Anything that possibly could affect a person’s ability to safely operate their vehicle may be grounds for a lawsuit, depending on the situation.

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TX injury lawyerOne recent night, a serious three-car accident on the south side of San Antonio claimed the life of one person. A 33-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, about 30 minutes after the impact when his Dodge Challenger was T-boned by two cars in succession after he tried to cross Texas 16, near Mission Gate. The Challenger’s driver-side door was crushed, and the man had to be cut free before law enforcement could assess his injuries properly. While San Antonio police stated that no criminal charges are pending for either of the drivers who T-boned the man’s car, this does not mean that the man’s family may not choose to file suit against either (or both) drivers for wrongful death. If you lose a loved one in a similar accident, your options may seem very similar to the man’s family’s.

Two Types of Cases

Texas has two types of wrongful death-related actions. A standard wrongful death action is brought on behalf of the surviving family, seeking damages on the family’s behalf for injuries they have sustained since the deceased person’s passing. The surviving family can file, or the estate can file on the family’s behalf, seeking compensation for harm like funeral and medical expenses, loss of the deceased’s love and companionship, and the loss of support and services.

The other type of case is called a survival action, and it is brought to preserve a cause of action that a person might have had before their death. In other words, a survival action is a suit brought on behalf of the injured person (and their estate), trying to recover for damages that the person would have been able to recover had they survived the incident. For example, if the deceased man had survived his accident, he would likely have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence - sadly, he did not, but his estate can file a survival action alleging the same things.

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TX accident lawyerThe region of Texas between Austin and Round Rock has been one of the fastest-growing in the state in recent years, but with growth comes higher crime and traffic rates most of the time. However, the city of Round Rock has seemingly found a way to reduce both traffic accidents and attendant fatalities, even as the area continues to grow and change. If you do wind up involved in a traffic accident in Round Rock, know that the laws have been updated and strengthened so as to help those who still experience crashes.

Overhaul of Round Rock Traffic Enforcement

Statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) show that collisions in the city proper have reduced significantly - April 2017-March 2018 saw 8 traffic fatalities, while April 2018-March 2019 saw just one. Collisions overall in Round Rock also dropped by roughly 5 percent, which does not sound like a lot, but is enough to push injury and fatality counts down enough to be statistically significant. Even one life saved is a positive, but Round Rock law enforcement continues to make positive changes.

Multiple initiatives have been started, each with the aim of lowering traffic fatalities. For example, Round Rock police have created three different, discrete units aimed at enforcement of different types of traffic laws - DWI, trucking regulations and enforcement, and education/community outreach. Between the use of social media and increased policing in so-called “collision reduction zones,” law enforcement says it is committed to making Round Rock a safe place to travel. None of this means that accidents do not happen, however, and if you are unfortunate enough to experience one, it is still important to understand your options.

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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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