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car accident lawyer in new braunfelsA major crash in San Antonio that involved three cars miraculously resulted in only minor injuries to the eight people involved. Even with minor injuries, however, there may still be medical expenses and property damage to account for. In cases of multi-vehicle accidents, how is liability determined and who is responsible for victims’ losses?

Out-of-Town Driver Gets Lost

The San Antonio crash occurred around 11 p.m. on a Friday night at the intersection of East Commerce St. and East Houston St., near Interstate 10. According to police, a woman who was not from the area become confused at the intersection, trying to figure out which stop light she was supposed to obey for the street she was on. In her confusion, the woman ended up running a red light and smashing head-on into another vehicle. A third vehicle was unable to stop in time and ended up slamming into the woman’s car. Police say all eight occupants in the three vehicles involved in the accident were able to get out safely.

Multi-Vehicle Accidents

There are a number of reasons why multi-vehicle accidents occur. One of the most common reasons is due to distracted drivers who do not see the vehicles in front of them because they are not paying attention and fail to stop, or they lose control of the vehicle and end up creating a pileup of vehicles. Poor road conditions and bad weather can also play a factor. Or, as the above accident shows, a driver who is unfamiliar with an area can easily become confused and cause a crash.

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Hays County car crash attorneyFor many children and adults alike, Memorial Day signifies the start of summer. However, it is also the beginning of what has been dubbed the “100 Deadliest Days” due to the increased number of teen fatalities that occur on roadways between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that during the summer months, there are three times as many fatal car accidents among teens when compared to adults.

Any car accident has the potential to be serious and cause injury to yourself or others, but a car accident with a teenager may be particularly severe. If you have been in a car accident with a teenager, here are a few different things that may have contributed to the accident:

Distracted Driving

One of the most common reasons for car accidents in general is distracted driving. The AAA states that distractions play a role in around six out of 10 car crashes, which is much higher than previously thought. There are many different things that could distract a person while they are driving, both inside and outside of the vehicle. Things such as changing the radio, adjusting the temperature controls, directing attention toward another passenger, putting on makeup, eating and/or drinking, and using your cell phone can all pose as distractions while driving.

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Comal County motorcycle crash attorneyEach year in the United States, May is recognized as National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. This is an important time to reflect on how motorcycles and other vehicles can more safely share the road and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries, but it is also a good time for motorcyclists to learn about their options if they are injured in an accident. Motorcycle crash injuries often result in lasting consequences, and it is important for motorcyclists and their families to be aware of all the damages they may be able to recover through a personal injury claim.

When Can I Recover Damages?

When a motorcyclist is injured in an accident and requires medical care, two things must be true in order for them to recover compensation. First, their injuries must have been caused entirely or partially by the negligence of another party. Often, this means another driver may have caused the crash because they were drunk, distracted, or otherwise driving recklessly in breach of their duty of care to others on the road. In some cases, other parties may also be liable, such as employers of commercial truck drivers or manufacturers of defective motorcycle parts.

Second, the motorcyclist must have been 50 percent or less responsible for their own injuries. It can be much more difficult to recover compensation from another party in a single-vehicle accident, or an accident in which the motorcyclist was intoxicated, speeding, or otherwise violating traffic laws.

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New Braunfels truck wreck lawyerWhen you get into an accident with a commercial truck or a semi-truck, the situation can be rather serious. Trucks that weigh tens of thousands of pounds are no match for cars and other vehicles that usually only weigh a couple of thousand pounds. Pursuing a personal injury case after you have been hurt in a truck accident is often a necessity, but truck accidents can be complicated. Before you can proceed with your case, you and your attorney will have to determine who should be held liable for the accident.

Possible Negligent Parties in a Texas Truck Wreck

Some of the entities that you may be able to hold liable for your injuries include:

Texas car crash lawyerIt is late afternoon when you are sitting in traffic while on your way to pick up the children from school. The car in front of you starts to inch forward when, suddenly -- Bang! The car behind you lurches forward and crashes into the rear end of your car, sending your head flying forward and then suddenly back again. As you brush your hair out of your face and try to gather your thoughts, you scrunch your face up in pain as your hand moves to your neck, rubbing it as you look around, wondering what happened.

This is an all-too-familiar story for many victims of rear-end crashes. What likely occurred as a result of the above crash is an injury called whiplash. Whiplash is an injury that occurs to the soft tissues in the neck that is uncomfortable and can cause long-term issues. Luckily, the state of Texas allows you to seek compensation from the person responsible if you have been unjustly injured. If you have been in a car accident, it is important that you seek medical attention to determine whether or not you have been a victim of whiplash.

Understanding Whiplash

The motion that a whip makes when it cracks is very similar to the motion that your head and neck make during a whiplash injury, hence the name. Whiplash occurs when the head is very forcefully thrown backward and then forward, causing strain and damage to the soft tissues. A whiplash injury can cause damage to various tissues in the neck, such as the vertebrae, discs, ligaments, muscles and nerves. The majority of whiplash cases occur just like the case above -- from a car accident. However, it is also possible to get whiplash from other activities, like sports. 

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New Braunfels personal injury lawyerStatistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate that more than 3 million people are injured in auto accidents each year. Many of these injured parties are victims of negligent drivers—motorists who were intoxicated, texting while driving, or otherwise behaving in a way that compromised the safety of those around them. The end result is a life that has been turned upside down. Sadly, it may be a long time before things are set right again. For some, life will never be the same. 

Long-Term Injuries and Wrongful Death

While some injuries do heal over a relatively short time period, there are those that can have long-lasting effects. Those that experience such injuries are likely to need rehabilitation, long-term medical care, and they may miss time from work. Some may be so severely injured that they are unable to return to the activities that they used to enjoy. Examples of severe and long-lasting injuries include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

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New Braunfels personal injury attorneyEach month in the United States, there is a different issue that is focused on in order to help bring attention and education to the general population. The month of March is designated as Brain Injury Awareness Month, which is one reason why we recently wrote about brain injuries that are sustained in accidents caused by other parties’ negligence. The month of April, which is coming up in just a couple of weeks, is National Alcohol Awareness Month and safety advocates will not only provide information about alcohol addiction, but also to remind people about the tragic consequences of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking.

Alcohol Addiction

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence established National Alcohol Awareness Month in 1987. The goal was and still is to increase awareness about alcohol abuse and to help end the stigma often associated with alcohol addiction. In addition to the month-long awareness campaign, there is also an Alcohol-Free Weekend, usually held the first weekend of the month, where everyone is encouraged to remain alcohol-free for 72 hours.

It is estimated – based on a 2019 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) – that there are almost 15 million Americans, 12 years or older, who have some level of alcohol addiction. The problem appears to be more prevalent in men, with 9 million estimated to have an alcohol problem, and 5.5 million women sharing this addiction.

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New Braunfels car accident lawyerEach year, around 2.5 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in the United States, including many who were injured in car accidents and truck crashes. A large majority of TBI victims suffer only minor complications and eventually heal from their injuries. Tens of thousands of others per year, however, suffer either fatality (around 56,000 per year) or long-term complications that may ultimately lead to death. When such situations are the result of negligence, financial assistance to cover medical expenses, treatments, and life expenses is crucial. It is important to understand your right to pursue this compensation, and where you can find quality assistance to improve your chances of a positive outcome. 

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Negligence

Negligence is not a factor in every traumatic brain injury case, but it is more common than most people realize. For example, auto accidents are the third leading cause of traumatic brain injury. Many traffic accidents are directly caused by drivers who fail to pay proper attention to their surroundings.

Falls, which are the leading cause of TBI, can also involve an element of negligence. Examples might include slip and fall injuries in a store, down a flight of stairs in a business establishment, or a fall in the parking lot of a grocery store. This is known as premises liability—a situation in which the owner of a building or parking lot has failed to ensure the safety of its patrons. 

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New Braunfels car accident lawyerAll states, including Texas, require that drivers carry auto insurance. Sadly, there are still situations in which you may be involved in a crash with an uninsured driver. For example, you might crash into someone who is driving a stolen car or a person who is explicitly excluded from the vehicle owner’s policy. Do you have any recourse in such a situation? What can you do about your medical bills? A qualified personal injury lawyer can help you find the answers to these questions and any others that you might have following an uninsured motorist accident.  

Do Not Make Assumptions About the Other Driver

Many people automatically assume that an uninsured driver is “poor.” More specifically, the common presumption is that since the driver does not have insurance, he or she cannot afford to pay out for medical expenses, property damage, or other losses experienced by the victim. This is not always the case, however. The driver who hit you could have been a young teen with a history of driving recklessly, so their parents took him or her off the policy to avoid liability. Such a driver could still have the means to cover your losses. Alternatively, the person that hit you could have non-liquid assets that a judge could find as sellable in order to cover your expenses. Either way, talk to an attorney before you make any decisions about what you think the other driver can afford to pay.

When All Else Fails

Not everyone can pursue damages from the uninsured driver after an accident. The person might not have any assets worth selling, or they may not even be a licensed driver. In such cases, your own insurance becomes the fail-safe option. Hopefully, you have comprehensive and collision coverage and possibly uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as well. Even if you do not, your insurance should at least cover your medical expenses. In such a situation, it is critical that you speak to an attorney. You might be surprised to learn what you can or cannot pursue compensation for, even when filing against your own insurance company. In addition, getting your insurer to pay your claim is not always as straightforward as it should be.

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Comal County personal injury attorney car accident

There is nearly an infinite number of issues that may cause a car accident. Driving under the influence, reckless driving, inattention to the road, and traffic law violations are some of the most common causes of auto accidents. However, in many cases, more than one factor leads to a car accident. For example, one motorist involved in an accident may have been driving over the speed limit while the other driver is texting and driving. You may wonder, “In car accidents involving shared blame, how is the at-fault driver determined? Can I still recover damages even if I am partially at fault for an accident?”   

Texas Comparative Negligence Law

The state of Texas uses what is known as a “modified comparative negligence” model for shared-fault personal injury cases. In Texas law, this is referred to a “proportionate responsibility.” This means that Texas courts allow injured individuals to seek compensation for their injuries even if they were partially to blame for the injuries. In fact, as long as an injured party was not more than 50 percent at fault for the incident that caused the injuries, he or she can still bring a court action for damages. 

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New Braunfels personal injury attorney car accident

Not all car accidents are the result of driver-related errors, negligence, or intentionally wrongful conduct. Sometimes, the fault lies with the vehicle itself—whether in its design, manufacture, or maintenance. Importantly, for victims in accidents caused by vehicle defects, recourse exists just the same as it does for “regular” accidents. Products liability law (rather than negligence or battery) governs this area of auto accidents in Texas and allows victims to rightfully seek compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost income due to missed work, the cost of vehicle repair or replacement, and when warranted, punitive damages. With the aid of an experienced personal injury attorney, the existence of a defect can be proven and compensation sought for its adverse consequences.

Manufacturing Defects May Have Dire Consequences

Cars are complex machines, and with highway speed limits in Texas that are 85 miles per hour in some areas, injuries and property damage stemming from a vehicle defect-related accident can be severe. One common type of defect is “unintended acceleration,” which affected Toyota vehicles made in or around 2009 and Audi vehicles in the 1980s. There is also the problem of tire separation, which, due to poor quality adhesives, caused tire treads to separate while the vehicle was being operated. When tire separation occurred on Ford’s Explorer model vehicle, the result was improper maneuvering and accidents in which serious injuries resulted. 

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New Braunfels personal injury attorneyStatistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicate that over 5,000 trucks and buses are involved in fatal accidents each year. Some of these involve unsecured loads. Why are they so dangerous, what does the law say about unsecured loads, and what can you do if you or a family member is injured or killed in such an accident?

Examining the Catastrophic Nature of Unsecured Loads

Unsecured loads have always been a problem, but it was not until the catastrophic injury of a young Washington woman that it gained national attention almost a decade ago. While driving down Interstate 405 in Washington State, a piece of unsecured furniture fell from a U-Haul truck and hit the young woman’s windshield. The injury that resulted left her permanently blind. To date, she has undergone seven reconstructive surgeries and years of physical therapy.

Others have faced similar and even more frightening injuries. Victims have died from debris going through their windshields. Many have endured catastrophic and sometimes fatal auto accidents because an item has fallen from a truck and into their path. In short, unsecured loads present a serious threat to every road user, and it should never happen.

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New Braunfels personal injury lawyerAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use in the U.S. cost the county almost a quarter trillion dollars in 2010—the last year for which statistics have been made widely available. This number included costs caused by a loss in workplace productivity, health care, criminal justice, and alcohol-related car accidents. Alcohol is often a factor in personal injury law cases, and many who are injured in alcohol-related accidents are eligible to receive compensation.

Alcohol-Related Injuries

Although many people use alcohol responsibly, alcohol is a very powerful drug. When a person consumes alcohol, their body is affected in several significant ways. Their reaction time is often decreased and reflexes may become slower, their vision may become distorted or blurry, their ability to concentrate may be diminished, and they may find it hard to coordinate their movements. These side effects of alcohol make a person much more susceptible to injury.

Sometimes alcohol-related injuries are caused by something as simple as slipping and falling. This often happens in dimly lit bars or other places where alcohol is served and could be spilled. When a person has been drinking, he or she is less likely to be able to react to a slip as quickly as he or she might have been able to while sober. This makes serious injury a higher risk than if the person had not been drinking.

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New Braunfels personal injury lawyerThe trucking industry transports goods across the country and brings in billions of dollars of revenue each year, yet it also causes a great deal of harm to other drivers. In fact, estimates from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) show that nearly half a million truck crashes occur each year. Over 4,000 of these crashes cause at least one death, while approximately 100,000 such wrecks cause injuries to at least one person. Why do so many large truck crashes happen, and what can victims do to ensure they are compensated for their losses?

Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents

While there are many potential reasons why a truck accident may occur, many crashes could be prevented if truck drivers avoided certain behaviors. According to data from the FMCSA, the most common factors in tractor-trailer accidents include:

New Braunfels personal injury attorneyWe have all done it. You are driving along the highway when your phone rings. You know you should ignore the incessant ringing until you are not driving, but temptation wins, and you reach for your phone. Distractions such as cell phones contribute to nearly 80 percent of car crashes, according to some estimates. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 3,000 lives are lost in accidents involving a distracted driver each year. If you have been in a car accident caused by a driver who was not paying attention or was distracted, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages through a personal injury lawsuit.

Distractions Which Can Cause Traffic Accidents

For many, driving a motor vehicle becomes second nature. Although most people exhibit cautious behavior when they are first learning to drive, after a while, many people become careless regarding safe driving habits. About 2 percent of all distracted driver traffic fatalities are caused simply by drivers who take their hands off the wheel to adjust the radio or climate controls. Driving with other people in the vehicle can be a major source of distraction as well. About 5 percent of traffic fatalities in relation to distracted driving are attributed to the passengers in the car. This phenomenon is especially true of teenage drivers. Research shows that when a teen drives with two or more passengers, the likelihood that they will be involved in a fatal car accident increases by a factor of five.

Mental Distractions Are Just as Dangerous as Physical Distractions

Some may assume that if they wait until they are no longer driving to check their text messages or change the radio station that they avoid the dangers of distracted driving. However, experts say that distractions outside of the car can be dangerous too. About 7 percent of distracted driver fatalities are caused by people or other distractions outside of the vehicle. The leading cause of distracted driving car accidents is simply drivers who are lost in thought. Research shows that over half of distracted driving accidents—about 62 percent—are caused by daydreaming.

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New Braunfels personal injury lawyerWhen you file a personal injury lawsuit against another person or entity for injuries that you have sustained, the proceedings will take place in two parts. The first part involves determining liability for your injuries. Sometimes, doing so is relatively easy—such as in a car accident where one driver was 100 percent at fault—while in other cases, assigning liability can be a bit more complicated.

The second part of a personal injury claim involves calculating damages, which can also become extremely complex depending on the nature of your injuries and other considerations for which you are seeking compensation. During the second phase of your claim, documentation will be extremely important, and it is largely up to you to keep a comprehensive record of your losses so that you can be compensated appropriately.

Organizing Medical Records

Certain types of documentation can actually play a significant role in both phases of your injury claim—medical records are among the most crucial. Your medical records will contain the most complete information available regarding the treatment you have received and the nature of your injuries. Your providers can also include their opinions regarding what caused your injuries and your long-term prognosis for recovery. If your claim eventually finds its way into the courtroom, your medical records could be the key to winning your case.

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New Braunfels personal injury lawyerWhen you are involved in a car accident, your first concerns are most likely whether or not you or any passengers are injured and the extent of damage that has been done to your vehicle. Filing a personal injury claim may be the last thing on your mind. However, it is very important for anyone involved in an auto accident to take certain steps to preserve their right to collect compensation. The insurance company may be quick to offer a settlement that does not fully cover the present and future costs incurred by the accident, and sometimes, filing a personal injury lawsuit is the only way you will be able to be fully reimbursed for the losses caused in a car accident. If you are ever involved in a serious traffic accident, make sure to take the following steps so that if you do need to file a lawsuit, the odds of success will be in your favor.

Always Call the Police and Do Not Admit Fault

Calling the police is always a good idea after being involved in a car accident. A police report is an important formal record of the details of an accident. Bringing a successful personal injury lawsuit without a police report can be nearly impossible.

In addition, many polite individuals are in the habit of apologizing for unfortunate situations even if the situation is not their fault. If you are in an accident, do not admit fault, even just by saying “sorry” to the other driver, witnesses, or the police.

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New Braunfels personal injury lawyerHead injuries are unlike other types of personal injury in that even a seemingly minor accident can have life-altering consequences. When a victim’s head is struck or moved in a violent or sudden manner, the brain may bump against the skull, causing severe injury. Brain injuries are often caused by car, truck, and motorcycle accidents, but they can also be caused by falls, workplace accidents, and more.

Regardless of how a brain injury occurs, the effects can be dramatic. Some who suffer brain injuries are unable to work or enjoy their lives in the way they did before the injury. In many cases, brain injuries incur substantial medical costs, including emergency room visits and ongoing doctor visits and tests. If you were injured as a result of another party’s negligence or carelessness, you might be able to receive compensation for your damages.

Brain Injury Caused by a Motor Vehicle Accident

Many victims suffer brain injuries after being involved in a car accident. If the accident was caused by a party who was driving recklessly or negligently, it is very likely that he or she will be liable for the accident. Distracted driving, including texting while driving, is often considered a negligent act, but proving that the other party was distracted can be challenging.

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New Braunfels car accident lawyerEveryone knows that the right thing to do in the event of a car accident is to stop and share contact information with the other driver. Not only is this the ethical thing to do, but it is also required by law. When a motorist is involved in a collision, he or she must stop his or her vehicle. Failure to stop is considered a “hit-and-run,” and leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in the state of Texas.

If you were involved in a hit-and-run, you may have suffered severe injuries that incurred significant medical costs in addition to your property damage. You may also be unable to work due to your injuries. You may wonder whether or not you can pursue compensation for these losses through a personal injury lawsuit. Successfully obtaining compensation for a hit-and-run accident can be a challenging process, but it is possible.

Next Steps

One of the most crucial steps to take after being involved in a hit-and-run accident is to call the police and get a police report. A police report that describes the details of the accident is an essential element in a personal injury claim and an insurance claim. Furthermore, the sooner you contact the police, the more likely it is that the police will be able to catch the person who hit you. Next, gather information about the accident.

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New Braunfels personal injury lawyerIn 1984, federal lawmakers passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which required every state to establish the age 21 as the legal drinking age. Technically, the law did not force states to make such a change, but it did “encourage” compliance by promising to reduce federal highway funds for states that did not do so. In 2000, Congress acted again, this time establishing a nationwide legal blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.08—and again, promising to withhold federal funds from states that refused to comply. While political experts and others have continued to debate the constitutionality and appropriateness of such federal measures, both of these were passed with the same stated goal: reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by drunk drivers on American roadways.

A Successful Venture

While it took several years, all 50 states in the U.S. eventually adopted the lower BAC standard of 0.08. Texas made the change from 0.10 to 0.08 by a legislative measure that was enacted on September 1, 1999—well in advance of the coming federal directive. Despite the reluctance in certain areas of the country, the new requirements began to have a noticeable effect on roadway safety. Federal safety reports show that in 1999, nearly 16,000 American motorists lost their lives in alcohol-related accidents. By 2015, nationwide fatalities had fallen to around 10,000 per year.

Considering that the legal BAC limit had been lowered by only 20 percent in most states—from 0.10 to 0.08—the 37 percent drop in alcohol-related fatalities was a major accomplishment. Improvement, however, seems to have slowed, and the number of annual drunk driving deaths has remained fairly consistent for the last several years. The results of a new, federally commissioned study now have safety officials pushing for lowering the legal limit once again, so as to drop the number of deaths even further.

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