Dallas Car Wreck Lawyer
Texas Car Wreck Law
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car wreck occurs somewhere in the U.S. every ten seconds. In the state of Texas alone, the following startling statistics regarding traffic fatalities (accidents in which one or more persons were killed) were recorded in 2008:
- 3,382 total traffic fatalities
- 1,269 with alcohol-related causes
- 1,422 with speeding-related causes
- 416 resulting in pedestrian deaths
The Law of Negligence
Car wrecks are generally decided using the Law of Negligence. A person who negligently operates a vehicle may be required to pay any damages caused by their negligence, either to person or property. Courts look to a number of factors in determining whether a driver was negligent. Some examples of these factors include:
- Driving too fast or too slow;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Failing to signal while turning;
- Disregarding weather or traffic conditions;
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals;
- Driving on the wrong side of the road;
- Distracted driving (cell phone use, texting while driving, looking at GPS or checking emails).
Other Factors in Car Accidents
Other considerations in determining fault in an accident include:
- Willful and wanton disregard (intentionally reckless conduct)
- Product liability (the accident was caused by a vehicle defect)
- Intoxication (in some cases, alcohol providers may be held responsible.
Automobile Insurance Coverage
In Texas, automobile insurance laws require the owner of a vehicle to have a certain amount of liability insurance. This insurance provides compensation to another person in the event that you cause an accident and are found liable for damages. State law has determined that the current minimum liability limits are $30,000 for each injured person, up to a total of $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage per accident. This basic coverage is called 30/60/25 coverage. However, you can purchase higher amounts of liability insurance if you wish. This may protect your personal assets against the risk of higher damages being awarded against you (for example, if the other driver claims serious injury). When The Law Offices of Jay J. Murray, P.C. represent a person who is injured in an accident, our first course of action is to investigate all applicable insurance coverage. There are two categories of auto insurance: first party coverage and third party coverage.
- First party coverage covers you and your property (medical expenses, damage to your vehicle, and the insurance company’s duty to defend you in the event that you are sued).
- Third party coverage covers your responsibility to pay for injury caused to other people (and vice versa) – whether in your vehicle, or another vehicle involved in the accident. The coverage (and its exclusions) is set forth in your insurance policy.
Types of Insurance Coverage
In exchange for the payment of a premium, the insurance company promises to provide compensation in the event of certain occurrences. The most common types of insurance coverage that may apply are:
As stated, this type of insurance is required by law. The liability portion of an insurance policy is specifically for defending and settling any claims, or paying any judgments rendered against the insured in an automobile negligence claim. If you are injured by the negligence of a defendant, we will make a claim under the bodily injury liability coverage of the negligent defendant’s insurance policy. However: Liability coverage is not health insurance, and it is not designed to pay for your medical bills as they are incurred. It is designed for a one time settlement or payment for all of your damages. Liability insurance minimums required by law in Texas are:
- • $30,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in any one accident. For reference, see Tex. Transp. Code § 601.072.
- • $60,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in one accident, not to exceed the per-person limits above. For reference, see Tex. Transp. Code § 601.072.
- • $25,000 for injury to or harm to property of others in one accident. For reference, see Tex. Transp. Code § 601.072.
Medical Payments (Med-Pay) Coverage
When purchasing automobile insurance for yourself, you may seek to include several additional type of coverage. Medical payments coverage (med-pay, personal injury protection, or economic loss protection benefits) is not required by Texas law; but, it can be useful in the event that you or your passengers are injured in an accident (no matter who was at fault). However, please note that another driver’s med-pay insurance will not cover you if they cause you harm; nor can your med-pay insurance cover them if you cause them harm. Purchasing med-pay benefits is solely for the protection of you and your vehicle passengers.
Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Benefits
Both of these are important voluntary coverage options, as they protect you against a negligent defendant who (illegally) does not have liability insurance coverage; or, who has the minimum legal coverage allowed, but said coverage is inadequate to fully compensate you. When clients are involved in an accident with an uninsured and negligent individual, our course of action is to make a claim under the client’s uninsured motorist coverage. This is why we strongly recommend that drivers purchase this in advance. Your own insurance carrier would then have to pay any judgment which may be rendered, up to the limits of the policy which you purchased. If the at-fault driver has liability insurance, but the policy limit of his or her liability insurance is less than the uninsured motorist coverage of your policy, we can make an additional claim under your own policy for under insured motorist benefits. Because a complicated body of case law has evolved dealing with this type of benefit, our experience with these issues can be positively invaluable for you to obtain the maximum benefit.
This insurance option covers the repair or replacement of your own vehicle after an accident, regardless of whether or not you are at fault. Although it sounds similar, it is different than property liability insurance coverage discussed above: Your own collision coverage normally includes a deductible, whereas property damage liability insurance coverage does not. Later, your insurance company may proceed against the other driver’s property damage liability insurance, to recover the amount paid out; however, this subrogation process does not affect your recovery.
Most states (including Texas) have enacted laws requiring drivers and passengers to wear seatbelt. Obeying the law is the duty of every driver and passenger; however, there are times that wearing a seatbelt does not successfully prevent all injuries. If you are injured in an accident in which you were not wearing a seatbelt, insurance companies and their defense lawyers will attempt to argue that you would not have been injured if you were properly buckled in. Their argument, which accuses you of comparative negligence in causing the injuries, can at times be dis proven. How? In the case that your injuries were caused by the negligent driver – not from your own failure to wear a seatbelt. Working together with expert biomechanical engineers and accident re-constructionists, we are often able to demonstrate that serious injuries would have occurred even if a seatbelt was worn at the time of an accident. Again: Drivers and passengers should always use a seat belt, for safety and legal reasons alike. We trust that once the dire consequences of an car accident have taken their toll, our clients will resume wearing theirs. For more information on seatbelt issues in an car accident, contact our Texas law firm for a free legal consultation.If you were injured in an accident as a passenger, you should inquire about receiving compensation for your injuries. Other common questions regarding passenger injuries follow.
Passenger Injury FAQ’s
Can I make a claim against the at-fault driver?
You may have a claim against the driver of the vehicle in which you were riding, and/or any other negligent parties involved in the collision; this includes at-fault drivers, providers of alcohol to at-fault drivers, and manufacturers of any vehicles proven to have caused the accident as a result of a defect.
Can a passenger be held responsible for the accident?
If you are concerned that you may be blamed for causing the accident, know that generally speaking, a passenger cannot be held at fault – unless it can be proven that he/she excessively distracted the driver. Seek the help of a skilled attorney to fend off allegations of causing the accident.
The driver obtained all the accident information, but I did not. Can I still seek compensation?
Ideally, a passenger should obtain all necessary information at the scene of an accident if safely possible; however, it is still possible to seek compensation.For other questions and additional insight regarding passenger injuries, contact our Texas law firm for a free legal consultation.
Pedestrian Injury Data
Even when you look both ways, crossing the street can be dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 4,000 U.S. pedestrians were killed in car accidents in 2008.
- 70% of fatal single-vehicle crashes are caused by a driver running off the road (Source: NHTSA, November 2009).
- Electric and hybrid vehicles, which tend to operate more quietly, account for an increasing number of Pedestrian Crashes.
- Pedestrian deaths accounted for over 1/8 of motor vehicle deaths in 2008.
Despite the frequency of pedestrian fatalities, it is often difficult to determine who the negligent party is. If you are interested in suing for pedestrian injuries, some of the factors courts will consider include:
- Was the pedestrian paying attention when crossing the street?
- Did the car run a red light?
- Is the pedestrian a child, and was the child supervised?
- Was the crossing signal or traffic light working properly?
- Was the pedestrian jaywalking?
- Or, was the pedestrian hit while walking in a designated walking area (such as a sidewalk)?
What to Do After an Car Accident: Accident FAQ’s
- What information should I obtain after an accident?
- Should I call the police after an accident?
- When should I contact an attorney after an accident?
- Should I contact my own insurance company?
- Should I go to the doctor after an accident?
- What should I tell my doctor after an accident?
- Do I need to take pictures of the accident scene?
- What evidence should I preserve at an accident?
- What do I do if I am contacted by the other driver’s insurance company?
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