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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX injury lawyerNormally, when someone is in an auto accident, the matter is pursued in civil court, with the plaintiff seeking damages from the defendant. However, in some auto accidents, such as the alleged shooting on Thanksgiving night on I-10, near Loop 410, both a civil cause of action and a crime may have occurred. If you have been in an accident of this type, it is easy to be confused about what is civil, what is criminal, and what your role is in either or both actions.

Civil Actions

The majority of auto accident cases wind up as civil actions, if they go to court at all because usually no laws are broken. Civil cases are mounted by one private person against another, or against an entity deemed to have been negligent. Money damages are being sought, as opposed to jail time, usually as recompense for injuries sustained (medical bills, but also lost wages, lost quality of life, and lifestyle adjustments like needing a wheelchair or an addition to one’s home, and so on). In some states, there are caps on damages for intangible causes of action, such as lost quality of life, but as of this writing, Texas does not have one except in medical malpractice cases. This means you can sue for as much as you believe you can get - with the caveat that the amount will almost certainly be reduced by a jury.

Once a civil action goes to trial, Texas uses a modified comparative fault rule to determine whether a plaintiff can recover, which means that if a plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent at fault for their own injuries, they cannot recover. This means that even if a plaintiff is responsible for part of their own injuries, as long as it is less than half, they can collect an award from the defendant (minus the percentage they are ruled at fault). A defendant may wind up being judgment proof, however, meaning that they lack the resources to pay the award.

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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX injury lawyerOn the night of November 8, a multi-vehicle crash near Pope Bend Road shut down eastbound I-71 for a significant period of time. Injuries were sustained, but luckily no deaths - which is remarkably lucky for a multi-vehicle crash. Crashes with more than two automobiles or trucks can be extremely dangerous simply because of the amount of metal flying around, and it can also be difficult to determine just who was at fault for an accident given how many actors are involved.

Multiple Causes

There are countless reasons why a multi-vehicle accident might occur at any given time, many of which are similar to the causes of single and two-vehicle accidents but are perhaps magnified. For example, adverse weather can cause many a car crash, but in a multi-vehicle situation, it may be magnified because one car may crash, and then another may crash into it, and so on. Someone who drives distracted or under the influence of alcohol may crash their own car, but other drivers shocked by the impact, or unable to react quickly enough, may crash as a reaction of sorts.

In certain crash situations, it may be possible to explore the possibility of a Texas Tort Claims Act lawsuit against the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) alleging poor road maintenance or construction. If, for example, an accident occurs around a bend, and no signs are posted to warn of the obstacle, TxDOT may wind up being held liable if another wreck occurs. The Texas Tort Claims Act grants citizens the right to bring suit against governmental entities if they do so over specific alleged negligence.

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 TX injury lawyerThe Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) issued a statement on November 7, 2018, stating that it has officially been 18 years - since November 7, 2000 - since the last death-free day on Texas roadways. This is a statistic that is unique to Texas - no other state has posted so many consecutive years without a death-free day, for several different reasons. It can be frightening to hear such a statistic, but there are ways that you can give yourself the best chance to avoid being in an accident while you travel in Texas.

Minimize Distracted Driving

One of the most often seen factors in fatal road accidents is distracted driving, whether texting or other types of behaviors. Statistics report that roughly one in five accidents on Texas roads involves distracted driving, with over 3,000 fatalities and serious injuries reported in 2017 related to this specific type of car crash. It is very easy to imagine that you will somehow avoid the potential negative consequences, but over time, the odds catch up with everyone. If you cause an accident while you are driving distracted, you could wind up being held liable for the injuries you cause, and that can add up, even with insurance.

Be advised that Texas passed a law in 2017 making texting while driving (including reading, writing or sending a text message) a traffic violation. This may, in some cases, leave you open to a claim of negligence per se, which can increase your liability. Normally, in order for a plaintiff to hold a defendant liable for their injuries, they must show that they breached the duty to exercise reasonable care and that the harm they suffered was caused directly by the plaintiff. In cases where it can be shown that the defendant broke a law and harmed a member of the class designed to be protected by that law, such as the general populace under a texting-while-driving ban, negligence per se is often assumed, meaning that a breach of the duty of reasonable care can be inferred and does not have to be proven.

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 TX injury lawyerIn the early hours of November 1, a significant rollover crash occurred on I-37 South, near Mathis Road. Two people were thrown from their car as it flipped over, sustaining serious injuries, while a second passenger sustained less severe damage to their person. The victims were taken to University Hospital and San Antonio Military Medical Center, respectively, in stable condition. All the victims in the crash can be said to be quite lucky to escape with only experiencing relatively mild harm - rollover crashes are by far the most deadly type of car accident, and if someone is held liable for injuries suffered by another person in a rollover, the bills can be very high.

Rollovers Can Be Deadly

Rollover accidents comprise only a small percentage of all car crashes in any given year - the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that roughly 2 percent of auto accidents in a year are rollovers. However, those accidents involved approximately 35 percent of all fatalities sustained in car crashes. Also, as many as 85 percent are single-vehicle accidents, meaning that very often, any liability lays on the driver’s head. Rollover crashes can be profoundly dangerous, as can be seen.

Rollovers have some of the usual car accident causes, such as speed, misuse of alcohol or other substances, or driver inattention - for example, the NHTSA reports that nearly half of fatal rollover crashes involve alcohol. However, some causes are more unique to rollover crashes - for example, many more sport utility vehicles and pickups roll over than standard sedans. In an SUV, the center of gravity is higher, and may not be as well balanced as a four-door or two-door car’s might be, thus allowing the vehicle to require less of a push to tip over.

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Posted on in Car Wrecks

TX injury lawyerSan Antonio has joined the list of cities offering electric scooter and wheelchair rentals to tourists, but this can and does sometimes lead to more accidents. On October 30, there was one on North St. Mary’s Street, near College Street, where a man on an electric scooter was hit by a car as he attempted to cross the street against traffic. The tourist’s injuries were relatively minor, but if they had been worse, the driver might be in considerable trouble.

Not Much Info on Scooter Accidents

Because of the relative novelty of the phenomenon, there is not much data on the prevalence of scooter accidents. However, anecdotally, everyone seems to have a story of a scooter injury - falling off, being struck, or something else. There are numerous ways that these scooters can be involved in accidents - the vehicle itself can lock up or fail to respond to the rider, pedestrians can be struck or scooter riders can be struck by passing vehicles. Dockless scooters may also pose accessibility restrictions and/or be unforeseen obstacles, especially at nighttime, given their relatively low profile.

The Texas Transportation Code does regulate scooters, among other similar vehicles, despite their appearing in San Antonio and elsewhere relatively recently. There are specific rules that must be followed by riders and by motorists in relation to those on scooters. Most importantly, the law restricts scooters to being ridden only on streets or highways where the speed limit is 35 mph or less and requires them to be ridden as far to the right as possible (except when making a left turn). The statute holds that municipalities may bar their use on sidewalks, and while no regulations exist yet on this topic in San Antonio, city leaders do plan to restrict their use to roads only.

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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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