Houston is a large metropolis with lots of traffic. Not only does the city have tons of local traffic, but it also sees a lot of tourist traffic throughout the year. Tourists visit the Space Center, come for the nightlife, visit museums, and enjoy a day at the Houston Zoo or the Downtown Aquarium. Since the average temperatures are warm throughout the year, the city does not get a break from tourists during the winter.
Texas Accident Statistics
In 2020, Texas saw a fatality rate of 1.33 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. This translates to 3,896 deaths, up 7.54 percent from 2019. Just over one-third of the fatal deaths—34.75 percent—were single-vehicle crashes where people ran off the road. Eight-hundred sixty-five people died in accidents at intersections.
In 2020, Texas did not have any deathless days. October was the deadliest month with 382 deaths, but single-day deaths were high on Sunday, June 21st; Friday, August 14th; and Monday, December 28th. Twenty-two people died in traffic wrecks on those days.
Broken down, Texas saw one person killed every 2 hours and 15 minutes, and one person sustained injuries in accidents on Texas roads every 2 minutes and 34 seconds.
Types of Vehicle Accidents
Accidents involved all types of vehicles and pedestrians. Those between pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and between large commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles have a higher risk of catastrophic or fatal injuries.
Types of accidents include:
- Head-on wrecks.
- T-bone wrecks, where someone hits the side of your vehicle with the front of their vehicle.
- Rear-end wrecks.
- Sideswipe accidents, which usually involve one vehicle merging into another vehicle’s lane and into the other vehicle.
- Single-vehicle accidents that might be caused by debris in the road, poor road maintenance, or inclement weather in addition to driver error.
Causes of Vehicle Accidents
A driver could cause an accident for many reasons, including:
- Distracted driving.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Speeding and excessive speeding.
- Reckless driving.
- Inclement weather where the driver does not adjust his or her speed for the weather.
- Debris in the road.
- Fatigue and tiredness.
- Evading arrest.
In some cases, the person who caused the accident might not be at fault. Even if the other driver slows down significantly for the weather, he or she could still lose control on ice or in high winds.
Unexpected medical emergencies such as a sudden heart attack could also cause a driver to wreck, as could defective and/or malfunctioning parts, such as the brakes.
Commercial drivers could cause wrecks and share liability with their companies, the auto techs who repaired the trucks, inspectors, dispatchers, and others. Because more than one person could share responsibility for your injuries when a commercial vehicle causes a wreck, you should always retain a truck accident lawyer after a wreck with a big truck.
The injuries you might sustain in a Houston motor vehicle accident could range from minor to catastrophic, depending on several factors. Speed, the size of the vehicle that hit you, the size of your vehicle, location, and other factors can determine whether you suffer minor injuries, severe injuries, catastrophic injuries, or death.
Even the way another vehicle hits you can determine the severity of your injuries. For example, a head-on hit at a moderate to low speed could cause more injuries than getting your rear bumper clipped by a tractor-trailer truck. The first incident could push you into vehicles behind you, or the vehicle that hit you could end up on top of your vehicle. In the second incident, even though the truck is much larger than a passenger vehicle, if it hits the bumper just right, it might just spin you out but not flip the vehicle.
Accident injuries you could sustain on Houston streets include:
- Bumps, scrapes, bruises, cuts, and scratches.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Crushed bones.
- Traumatic brain injuries, which include mild concussions.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Strains and sprains.
- Pulled and torn muscles, and other soft-tissue injuries.
- Road rash.
- Chemical and/or thermal burns.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
You could also sustain secondary injuries, such as infections. Infections can develop in open wounds, whether from the accident or surgery for accident injuries, especially if diabetes or other immunodeficiencies compromise your immune system. Additionally, certain medications could lower your white blood count, thus compromising your immune system and causing open wounds to become infected.
Additionally, your accident injuries could exacerbate a condition you already have, causing you to seek additional medical attention for that condition. You can hold the defendant responsible for these types of injuries because you would not have the medical expenses and additional pain and suffering if not for the defendant’s actions or inactions.
After sustaining injuries in a Houston motor vehicle accident, you have the right to recover the compensation you deserve. Courts order compensatory damages—economic and non-economic damages—in an attempt to make you whole again. While the money does not make you heal faster, remove disabilities caused by severe or catastrophic injuries, nor bring back a loved one who died in a car wreck, it does reduce the financial stress you undoubtedly find yourself fighting after an accident.
Settle or Litigate?
After an accident, you should contact a Houston car accident lawyer as soon as possible. In most cases, you have very little time to file a claim with the insurance company. If the insurance company refuses to give you a fair and reasonable settlement, you can stop negotiations and move to litigation.
Because litigation costs the insurance company a lot of money, they would prefer to settle. However, that knowledge does not stop them from offering you a pittance when you do not have an attorney helping you. Some insurance companies will go all the way through a trial, while others will attempt to restart settlement negotiations when they find that you and your attorney are not going to fall for their tricks and low settlement offers.
Whether via a settlement or litigation, a Houston car accident attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve, especially if you sustained catastrophic injuries that will affect you for the rest of your life.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
The value of your case mostly depends on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances of the accident. Texas allows you to collect compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Economic Damages. Special damages, or economic damages, have a monetary value and include:
- Past medical expenses are those you incur because of the accident and before a settlement or trial award. These and future medical expenses can include surgeries, follow-up appointments, and therapy appointments. Therapies include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive and other psychological therapies.
- Future medical expenses are those you incur because of an accident but after a settlement or a trial award.
- Past lost wages are those you lost because of accident injuries before a settlement or a trial award.
- Future lost wages are those you expect to lose because of accident injuries but after a settlement or trial award. Future lost wages also include partial future lost wages if you return to work but cannot earn what you did before the wreck.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property, including a vehicle, bicycle, and items in your vehicle such as cell phones, computers, and clothing.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses if you lost a loved one in the accident.
Non-Economic Damages. General damages, or non-economic damages, are also compensatory damages, but they do not have a monetary value.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to use ambulatory devices or take medications for the rest of your life for accident injuries.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy or participate in family events, activities, and outings.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Loss of use of a body part such as your hands or feet.
- Loss of use of a bodily function such as your eyesight or bladder.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, including but not limited to house cleaning, grocery shopping, lawn maintenance, and home repair and maintenance.
- Amputation of a digit or limb, whether as a direct result of the accident or because of infection of an accident wound.
- Excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.
If you lost a loved one in an accident, you could also recover non-economic damages.
Punitive Damages. The court will order the defendant to pay punitive damages if you can prove that the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent. Gross negligence is not the same as negligence. For example, a court might order the defendant to pay punitive damages if the defendant caused an accident because he or she was texting while driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you believe you should recover punitive damages, the trial is in two parts—bifurcated. You can only collect punitive damages if the court orders the defendant to pay compensatory damages. The first part of the trial is to determine if you should recover compensatory damages and whether the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent. During the second part of the trial, you do not have to provide the evidence that the defendant was guilty—it is only to determine how much the jury believes the defendant should pay in punitive damages.
Retaining a Houston Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney
We understand that you can barely afford to feed your family after an accident. When you come to us for help with a car accident case, your initial case evaluation is free. You do not pay attorneys’ fees unless we win your case.
What if I am Still in the Hospital?
While you have two years to bring a personal injury car accident lawsuit against the defendant, insurance companies do not give you that long to file a claim. You should contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to get the ball rolling. Even if you are still in the hospital, you or a loved one can contact us for a free case evaluation.
We can come to you or set up a video call for your initial case evaluation. If you wait until you get out of the hospital, you could miss the window for filing a claim.
Speaking With the Insurance Company
We do not recommend that you speak with the insurance company at all. Insurance companies are in business to make money. Paying out claims can significantly reduce their profits, especially claims for long-term or permanent disabilities caused by accident injuries.
Insurance companies will do anything, including twisting what you say to deny your claim or to offer you just enough money to make you go away. Our car accident attorneys know all of the tricks the insurance companies use, so we can file your claim for you.
If you do want to call the insurance company, we recommend that you give it your name, date, and location of the accident, your contact information, and your attorney’s contact information. The representative might pressure you to discuss the accident. If he or she does, simply continue referring the representative to your attorney.
If the insurance company asks you to sign a medical release or any other documents, bring the documents to your attorney. If you sign a medical release, you could sign away your rights to further pursue the case.
If you were in a motor vehicle accident, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible for your free case evaluation and preserve your right to recover the most compensation possible under the law.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.